Currently reading Notes on How to Live in the World and Still be Happy by Hugh Prather, I read about his suggestions for rumination.

Rumination is constantly dwelling on a situation or a feeling, replaying the situation over and over in our minds. Normally, the concept contains a negative stigma; however, rumination, like other concepts, can be used in a positive sense. One can ruminate over a joyful event.

We won’t be discussing the joyful thoughts. Hopefully no one has an issue with ruminating over their winning pitch thrown at the championship game in 5th grade. I’m just saying, I couldn’t have thrown a better change-up.

What we will focus on is the negative spirals that infect our daily routine. We’re familiar with it, are we not? Something happens, an argument sparks, maybe regrettable words are exchanged, and we ruminate on the past. Or maybe you’re stuck ruminating about past loved ones, past jobs, missed friendships. The downward, depressive spiral is the shared among all walks on misery lane.

The mind is a muscle, and in order to get the mind into shape, it takes practice and exercise.

Exercise A: 7 Minute Negative Sprint

Research suggests we take a couple minutes designated for negativity and rumination when needed. We set this time aside to release our negative thoughts. Here’s the key. After that, we let them go. The exercise is a waste if you return to those negative thoughts.

STOP Exercise A

Exercise B: 5 Reps of “Will Do”s

“Could have”s are never helpful.

After replaying or ruminating your heart’s desire for 7 minutes, try thinking a few “will do”s.

Instead of:

I could have been less angry.

Try:

I will remain calm and collected in order to keep an open mind.

Continue Exercise B in any situation you face. Keep the future in mind. Dwelling on the past doesn’t help to learn; reflecting helps to process everyone’s behavior in a productive manner.

Exercise C: Friends Don’t Let Friends Ruminate Alone

Sometimes we can’t shake ourselves out of the funk. It’s difficult to break that perpetual thinking alone.

Recruit the help of a friend or confidant to distract you for a bit until your emotions can be more manageable.

Catch a movie, listen to music, take a quick jog or walk. Physical activities can lower your mental arousal, and outdoor activities help boost Vitamin D with sunshine intake, which increases brain activity.

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