We often come across statements such as, ‘You are what you think’, ‘Attitude determines altitude’, ‘I think, therefore I am,’ etc. Certainly, the emphasis here is on the mind and its ability to think, as thoughts shape our personality by influencing our emotions, actions and habits. But the question stands–what are thoughts and how do they affect our personality?
Thoughts are ideas, perspectives, opinions, and beliefs about ourselves and our external environment. They are of two types. “When we have a thought and harbour it, it can be negative or positive. Depending on how much we focus on a thought, its mental energy gets multiplied or divided,” says clinical psychologist Dr Joy Banerjee. For instance, when we think of going on a vacation, it is a positive thought. The more we focus on it, the more mental energy we expend on it, thereby triggering more positive thoughts. This makes us feel relaxed and happy.
So, it is safe to say that thoughts influence our emotions and affect our present state of mind. Is it thoughts alone that affect our state of mind or do external factors have a role too? Dr Banerjee clarifies, “Many a time, external incidents themselves do not affect our state of mind. Instead, it is how we perceive them or think about them that affects our emotions.”
“People differ considerably from each other in their habitual patterns of thought, feeling and action. Not surprisingly, these differences are reflected not only in what people think, feel, and do, but also in what they say about what they think, feel, or do.”
We can choose to view everything in a positive light and harbour optimism, or view things in a negative light and nurture pessimism. Ultimately, the choice is ours.