You have about 7 – 10 seconds before a thought gets stuck in your mind. When a negative or unhealthy thought arises, redirect your mind immediately before the thought gets stuck in a tape loop in your mind.
If you’re having a difficult time redirecting your thoughts, you can immerse your mind in a magazine, newspaper or book; you can listen to audio books or podcasts, or work on a project or hobby that completely absorbs you—whatever it takes to substitute the negative or stressful thought with something higher. (Music alone is usually not effective as an aid in mindfulness because your mind can still easily wander while listening to music.) For those who have a spiritual teacher they love, the most powerful and effective way to still the mind is to move your mind to an image of him or her.
Using this technique of switching your mind away from a negative or stressful thought before it takes hold isn’t meant to imply that you shouldn’t address the issue that is causing the troublesome thought. Instead the technique is useful when there is no action that can be taken at the time and the best thing to do is push the thought out of your mind. For example, if you are unemployed and looking for a job, you should of course do everything you can to find a job. However, once you’ve done all you can for the day, it doesn’t help your search to worry about it at night since worrying drains your energy. So as worry starts to seep in, employ the 7-second rule to keep it at bay. Another example is, suppose you and your partner broke up after many years together and when you think of him or her, it makes you feel really sad. In this case, employ this technique when you notice the thought of your ex creeping into your mind, so you can prevent the thought of him or her from getting stuck in your mind.
Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UK, CA, FR , IT, ES and DE. © 2013 Sara Weston. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.