I certainly don’t want to sound Pollyannaish and/or unrealistic. In fact, I’ve always hated the “rah-rah folks who seem to have blinders on and simply opt to ignore the negatives. I also know how hard it is to find the motivation to focus on the positive when positivity seems like nothing more than wishful thinking. Not only has our whole damn ag world been upside down for months but now we have to battle the craziness associated with coronavirus.  

Perhaps even more difficult is the way many of our brains are wired, especially those of us who own businesses, own farms, invest, trade, lead people, etc.. Many of us have actually hard-wired our brains to focus on and look for threats. This survival mechanism has probably served many of us well, especially on the farms or in the investment and business building worlds. 

Now all of a sudden our brains are being overwhelmed by a million “what if’s” that could completely derail our lives and everything we’ve worked so hard to build for our families. Maintaining positivity and sanity in this environment is going to be a daily challenge that requires focus and attention. In other words, you are going to have to be intentional about staying positive if you’re going to overcome your brain’s tendency to focus on threats and problems. 

Remember, your overall “health” is going to be critically important in getting past this virus and all the challenges it brings our way. Unfortunately, science has proven that pessimism, negativity, worry, and depression takes a massive toll on the body’s immune system and overall health. I am challenging all of my friends and readers to take time daily to be intentional about your thoughts and perspective. Your family is deeply depending on it!

As my grandfather always told me, life’s never about how you play the winning hands, rather always about how you play the losing hands. Below are a few hacks I’ve been given throughout my life to help deal with stress and to help overcome negative thoughts running wild in my mind. 

It’s the “Thoughts About Thoughts” that Get Us in Trouble: Remember, humans are really the only species that are believed to have thoughts about their thoughts. A dog sees a cat and goes after it. The dog doesn’t see the cat then think about the possibility that a car could be coming down the road or that the cat might run into another yard with a real badass dog. So the dog simply reacts and chases the cat. Wouldn’t life be simple if we didn’t have thoughts about thoughts:) Try and pause each day and think about how your dog would react? It’s all these damn thoughts about thoughts we are stringing together about corona that is keeping us up at night and stressing us out during the day.  Pausing and simply identifying and labeling your thoughts as thoughts about thoughts does help. 

Trick the Brain and Switch Gears: 
Once you snap yourself out of self-defeating, negative thoughts about thoughts pattern, it’s time to help your brain refocus on the good stuff. This is where “gratitude” becomes extremely important. Take a few moments and breaks throughout the day to write down the things you are grateful for. The key is you have to take the time and pause to give the mind a break and reverse its flow. Your simple gratitude list can include the big-ticket items each time or you can include the simple stuff from time to time. It really doesn’t matter and might actually sound foolish to think you are writing down that you are thankful for having one more trip around the farm, or one more sunset, etc… but I’m telling you it makes the brain stop racing and changes the flow of negativity. For me, it’s like getting the old pickup truck unstuck. The more negative thoughts I have during the day the more I have to stop and shift gears back and forth between gratitude and worry, it’s the only way to get unstuck. 

Focus on Helping Other People: I’ve found deflecting my time and attention towards helping others brings serious peace and calmness to my mind. This is difficult when you are thinking everything around you is crumbling but you have to again stop and make yourself commit. Go volunteer, go help the church, help the children, help the elderly, help the neighbors. Whatever it might be, you need to stop and go do things that help others who are in need. This requires commitment and getting out and doing, this is not simply writing a check to your favorite charity. It’s the act of doing that works to soothe and bring peace to the mind.

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