Any professional athlete will tell you that regardless of your strength, speed, or endurance, if your head isn’tin the game, you’ve already lost.
The same can be said forthose of us trying to improve the quality and length of our lives, now and into our golden years. We’ve capitalized on the technological advances in health care and biological research. This has led to improved understanding of the
impact that nutrition, exercise, diet, and supplements have on our biological machines – our bodies.
All of these advances, while greatly beneficial, don’t get our head in the game. They address the mechanics but barely touch the software that’s running the system – our thought process.
It’s like optimizing a computer but ignoring the old bug ridden operating system. No matter how big the hard drive, how fast the connection, or how new the apps, the improvement is limited to the best a bad operating system can deliver.
To get your head in the game, you need a system that supports the other improvements and brings a new, revitalized, and bug free operating system that continues to self-improve over time. Thought management is the missing piece to a holistic improvement that works from the inside out – not just the outside in.
There are 3 key thought processes that can get us there. I call them Mind Zones.
The Attendance Mind Zone:
There are 3 states of attendance: Past, Future, and Present. Are your thoughts attending to your past, causing you to look at your
regrets? Are your thoughts about the future, causing you to feel worried or anxious? Or are your thoughts focused on the present and what’s going on around you right now?
The Attitude Mind Zone:
Attitude is the perspective through which you choose to see events, circumstances, and the world. Your attitude alters your perspective, your behavior, how others respond to you, and ultimately your future.
The Attention Mind Zone:
Attention is the conscious recognition of the kind of thoughts you’re having. There are attentive thoughts and wandering thoughts.
Attentive thoughts are focused, purposeful, and directed. Wandering thoughts are sometimes spontaneous, often random, and can easily spiral out of control.
Effectively managing your Mind Zones allows you to get your head in the game and keep it there.
In order to manage our Mind Zones we need to train ourselves to be actively aware of our thoughts.
Training is necessary because we aren’t used to being attentive to our thoughts as they occur or when it’s most important to do so (when we are having negative or wandering thoughts). Often our emotions are high and tend to fill our minds. This leaves little room for introspection or thought awareness.
The way to get past this is to create a habit of self-checking. Self-checking requires us to STOP and CHECK our Mind Zones. To do this we need a reminder, or a signal, that is outside of our internal thought process. This outside signal is what trains us to be more
aware. The outside signal can be anything you choose: a watch alarm, a calendar alert, or a microwave timer. Set your alarm signal for every 4 hours.
When the alarm goes off, quickly go through the 3 Zone checklist:
• ATTENTION CHECK: Am I wandering or attentive?
• ATTITUDE CHECK: Am I positive or negative?
• ATTENDANCE CHECK: Am I past-future or present?
Try this for a day to get your brain used to paying attention to your thoughts. It will train you to periodically STOP & CHECK.
Tracking our Mind Zones over time helps us:
1. Figure out where you are now
2. Track your progress moving forward
3. Identify and focus on problem areas
The Mind Zones Tracking Tool is a free spreadsheet (download at YourMindZones.com) that will help you track your Mind Zones over time.
How we manage our thoughts means the difference between success and failure, and between joy and misery. When our thoughts control us, we are at the mercy of madness. When we control our thoughts, we control our world.
Effectively managing our Mind Zones provides us with a method of understanding how our underlying thoughts impact our every action AND a simple, effective, and straightforward means to manage them so that you, as Henry David Thoreau said, “can create the person you want to be.”
Timothy Shepp is an author with an intense thirst for knowledge that is only surpassed by his desire to help others understand how and why we do what we do, how to do it better, how to appreciate it for what it is, and with this knowledge
create a path to help enlighten and improve the lives of his readers. He is a psychological scientist who seeks to understand and explain human behavior within evolutionary, biological, inter/intra-personal, religious, cultural, spiritual, and social constructs. Tim’s latest book is Mind Zones of Thought Awareness: How Attendance, Attention and Attitude Can Restore the Missing Pillar of Health and Longevity. You can read more of Tim’s writing on his blog: ThePsychologicalist.com