Three Thousand and Some Change

Kara Swanson, Brain Injury Blog
Three Thousand and Some Change

I saw a commercial the other day that stated the average person has 3,000 thoughts every day. That really got my attention. I decided to noodle on this for a bit.

OK, for me…I know right off the top that 27 of those thoughts are going to be about perfect brownies hot out of the oven. That’s a given. That leaves me with 2, 973 for the day. I figure four, maybe five, will be spent wondering if Michigan’s football team is going to be able to fix their defense and find a kicker before next season. An easy two will be devoted to what I am going to do with this bloody hair today. Half a dozen may be contemplating meals when all I see in the fridge are natural peanut butter and coleslaw. I’ll throw out an easy ten deciding on who should be kicked off of American Idol, on why male news and sports anchors dye their hair impossibly dark and on whether I picked Butler in any of my March Madness brackets.

Now I’m down to 2,950.

What the heck are any of us thinking?

In this world of crazy technology, I wish there was an app that logged our thoughts. I’d be interested to see how many of mine begin with, “I forgive…” and “I am grateful for….” and “I am capable of….”

Is it half? Are half of my thoughts on any given day positive and healthy and helping and progressive and appreciative?

How about yours?

If I believe that thoughts are things (I do), then maybe I don’t need an app to log my thoughts. I need only then look at the results of my life to find out how I’m spending my 3,000 thoughts each day.

Apparently, I need to start paying better attention to what my mind is telling my life to do.

Three thousand thoughts. Three thousand. Think about that.

Now 2,999. Gotcha.

A couple of years ago I began to start each day writing affirmations about my life. I had combined elements of The Secret and a book my friend Christine had sent me called The Artist’s Way. Before I even had coffee in the morning, I would sit down and write two full pages of statements. I would take what I wanted and phrase them as if they already were happening and had happened.

I would say, “I am healthy. I can’t wait to get to the gym. I love working out. I am losing weight because I am eating well and going to the gym every day. My heart is healthy. My body is trim and fit.”

On and on I would write. Statement after statement. And damned if I didn’t find myself going to the gym every day and enjoying my workouts. It worked.

Right up until I stopped writing the pages. Stopped spending my thoughts on the things I needed to send my life in the direction I wanted.

At the beginning of this year, I started writing them again. Part of them had to do with my financial status and I wrote several versions of the same theme: Jobs keep coming in. Money is pouring in. I have more than enough money to take care of x, y and z…

I’ve had three new jobs this year already.

What are we spending our 3,000 thoughts each day thinking?

If I spend twenty thoughts telling my brain that I am fit and slim and healthy and I love working out and I can’t wait to get to the gym, but I spend a hundred later on throughout the day lamenting my double chin and my side view in the mirror and how pitifully-few pushups I can only do now, what do you think wins?

If I get up in the morning and tell myself once that my brain injury does not impede my success but then I spend the rest of the day cursing my limitations, that poor little lonely happy thought in the morning doesn’t stand a chance.

In such a tight economy, maybe we all need to put our thoughts on a budget as well. Find out where we’re spending our 3,000 thoughts each day…

I’ve decided I’m going to make a list, print it off and put it in front of my keyboard each morning where I’ll see it before I race to my morning emails.

I’m going to write five separate statements that each morning I will complete in my head:

Five beginning with, “I am grateful for…..”

Five beginning with, “I forgive….”

Five beginning with, “Today I’m going to improve my health by…”

And five beginning with, “I love my life because….”

Wanna join?

Our thoughts sit behind the wheel. They choose the turns in the ride of our lives. They drive the car.

When you read the news or watch what’s going on in the world, there’s no mystery about how many people spend so many of their 3,000 thoughts on hate, jealousy, prejudice, anger, regret, and mean-spiritedness. Their results don’t require any special app either.

Maybe one single absent-minded “Love ya” as we’re rushing in opposite directions requires more of our 3,000. Maybe we spend one thought telling those we love that we love them but we spend five or ten or a dozen showing them different.

If we have 3,000 thoughts in a day, how many do you think we should spend on the past? In the present? On the future? If we cut them evenly, do you think we should spend a thousand thoughts each day on our past? How many of us even have the time to spend a thousand thinking of the future?

And how many of us spend so much time regretting or preferring our past and wishing or hoping for a better future that we don’t spend enough of those 3,000 improving today?

I’m going to start paying better attention to the directions I’m giving my brain on where to turn and what exits to take in my life. I’m going to start listening more closely to the voice inside my head that creates the results of my everyday.

Seems we have a lot to blame right now for everything. We blame the economy, the government, the natural disasters, the this and the that. We blame spouses for not talking and children for not listening. Sitting presidents for not standing, standing protesters for not sitting. We blame our issues and our failures and our physical conditions on our parents, exes and a hundred outcomes that we feel comfortable saying “weren’t our fault”. Unsympathetic employers, lousy neighbors, rotten in-laws…

Makes me think that a lot of the 3,000 thoughts a day could be better spent.

I’m going to see if I can’t turn my thinking economy around. Bring it out of the red and into the black. Deposit more of it into what I want to have happen instead of what I actually see happening.

And then we’ll see where the ride takes me. Need a lift?

From Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog. Used with permission.

Posted on BrainLine April 12, 2011.