Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking - S.J. Scott, Barrie Davenport (2016)

CONCLUSION

Final Thoughts on Decluttering Your Mind

“Your mind is the basis of everything you experience and of every contribution you make to the lives of others. Given this fact, it makes sense to train it.”

– Sam Harris

Training your mind is the mental equivalent of tidying your house. It’s a habit you must repeat daily in order to stay on top of it. But training your mind is not as straightforward or simple as housekeeping.

Managing your thoughts takes commitment and practice. It also requires daily—even moment-by-moment—awareness of your mental state and the shenanigans of your monkey mind.

Left to its own devices, your mind will swing from branch to branch, following an old memory, chasing a distraction, or stewing in the bitter juice of resentment or anger. Or it can languish in daydreaming and fantasy, much more positive but still unruly states of mind. When you neglect to take stock of your mental clutter, your thoughts and emotions remain freewheeling and capricious. As a result, your experience of life becomes unpredictable and entirely dependent on the random nature of thought.

The intrusive thoughts you experience throughout the day illustrate the maddening reality that many of the functions of the mind seem outside of conscious control. To add insult to injury, our thoughts feel very real and powerful and have a profound impact on our perceptions of the world.

For a moment, let go of the notion that your spontaneous thoughts have any meaning. What if those intrusive thoughts have no more truth or substance than random graffiti on a wall? There may be some connection to a memory or emotion, but in the present moment they don’t reflect reality. For the most part, this is the truth about thoughts.

Although your subconscious mind will never allow you to have complete control of your thoughts, you do have the ability to control some of them. And you can change your reactions and habits in order to better manage them and the emotions they foster.

Throughout this book, we have offered a wide-range selection of ideas and tools for decluttering your mind so you can quiet the negative voice in your head, experience less stress, and enjoy more peace of mind.

With focused breathing and mindfulness meditation, you trigger the relaxation response and learn to detach from intrusive thoughts and emotions.

By interrupting, reframing, and challenging thoughts, you learn to take charge of your thinking and diminish the power thoughts have over you.

When you identify your core values, you create boundaries for your choices and actions so you don’t give yourself more reason to ruminate and worry.

Once you clarify your life priorities, you don’t waste your time on things that will later cause you regret or mental suffering.

When you set goals based on your values and priorities, you set the stage for focused action and self-esteem that keeps you feeling energized.

When you seek out and live your passion, you infuse your goals with authenticity, purpose, and joy, leaving little room for negative thinking.

By being more present and mindful in your relationships, you prevent many of the conflicts that come with human interaction, minimizing the resulting mental distress and increasing fulfillment with the relationship.

When you keep your home and your digital world clean, organized, and streamlined , you remove distractions that pull you away from your values, priorities, and goals.

By making the decision to cut back on tasks and obligations, you reduce stress, allowing more “space” to be present and attentive to life.

As you focus on the task at hand and involve yourself in “flow” activities, you transcend the mental chatter in your head to become one with the activity, fostering feelings of joy and deep satisfaction.

When you tackle procrastination and learn to quickly take the first step, you circumvent the anxiety that comes with putting things off.

By applying mindfulness to all of the daily activities of life , from dishwashing to exercise, you clear your mind of all but the only true reality in life—the present moment. American psychologist Abraham Maslow says, “The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”

So how do you decide where to begin your mental declutter practice?

We suggest you begin by first defining your core values, life priorities, and goals . Once you have these personal boundaries and directives established, you’ll find it much easier to determine where you have the most disruptive mental clutter and how you want to deal with it.

For example, if you have a core value of building strong relationships, but you find yourself in regular conflict with someone or constantly brooding over a relationship encounter, then the relationship exercises we outlined are a great place to begin your mental declutter.

Or you may find yourself constantly disparaging your abilities or appearance, and these negative thoughts prevent you from enjoying life. If this is the case, working on self-acceptance, ending comparisons, and forgiveness might be the place to begin.

Some of the practices we outlined, like breathing, meditation, simplifying, and daily mindfulness, can be applied or practiced for short periods of time every day . The results from these practices will help you with the more complex endeavors, such as improving relationships, overcoming the past, or finding your passion.

We also suggest you keep a journal to document the mental declutter practices you undertake, and how your life and emotions improve as a result . By tracking your actions and the resulting changes that occur, you’ll feel inspired and motivated to continue with your mental decluttering efforts.

Decluttering your mind is a lifelong endeavor, but one that pays off with profound rewards that can significantly impact your quality of life. The less time you spend “in your head” with intrusive, negative thoughts, the more time you have to enjoy the present moment—and every present moment for the rest of your life.

You understand what it takes to feel less anxious about all the “stuff” that goes on inside your head. Now, we urge you to take action. Start today with the biggest challenge in your life and commit to fixing in the next week. If you get stuck, use the eight-step process that Steve recommends for building a new habit . Simply, identify the exercise that will help overcome this challenge and then create a routine for doing it on a daily basis.

We wish you the best of luck!

Barrie Davenport

Steve Scott

400 Words That Identify Your Values (Bonus Section)

Your core values are the guiding principles of your life that help you determine your behavior, words, and actions. It’s essential to your personal evolution to take stock of your values on a regular basis, and then make the necessary changes to align your life with these most critical values.

Living in harmony with your values creates a fertile environment for happiness, peace of mind, and success, because you are living authentically without confusion, guilt, or shame. Even small, incremental changes to align your life with your values will create a positive shift in your feelings and attitude.

Look at this list of 400 value words below, and select your top 5 to 10 for your personal and professional life.

Write them down and evaluate how you might be living outside of your values right now. What do you need to change to support your values? What is the first step you can take today?

Ability

Abundance

Acceptance

Accomplishment

Achievement

Acknowledgement

Adaptability

Adequacy

Adroitness

Adventure

Affection

Affluence

Alertness

Aliveness

Ambition

Amusement

Anticipation

Appreciation

Approachability

Artfulness

Articulacy

Assertiveness

Assurance

Attentiveness

Attractiveness

Audacity

Availability

Awareness

Awe

Balance

Beauty

Being-ness

Belongingness

Benevolence

Blissfulness

Boldness

Bravery

Brilliance

Briskness

Buoyancy

Calmness

Camaraderie

Candor

Capability

Care

Carefulness

Certainty

Challenge

Charity

Charm

Chastity

Cheerfulness

Clarity

Classy

Cleanliness

Cleverness

Closeness

Cognizance

Comfort

Commitment

Compassion

Competence

Completion

Composure

Concentration

Confidence

Conformity

Congruency

Connection

Consciousness

Consistency

Contentment

Continuity

Contribution

Control

Conviction

Conviviality

Coolness

Cooperation

Copiousness

Cordiality

Correctness

Courage

Courtesy

Craftiness

Creativity

Credibility

Cunning

Curiosity

Daring

Decisiveness

Decorum

Deepness

Deference

Delicacy

Delight

Dependability

Depth

Desire

Determination

Devotion

Devoutness

Dexterity

Dignity

Diligence

Diplomacy

Direction

Directness

Discernment

Discretion

Discipline

Discovery

Diversity

Dreaming

Drive

Duty

Dynamism

Eagerness

Economy

Ecstasy

Education

Effectiveness

Efficiency

Elation

Elegance

Empathy

Encouragement

Endurance

Energy

Enjoyment

Enlightenment

Entertainment

Enthusiasm

Evolution

Exactness

Excellence

Excitement

Exhilaration

Expectancy

Expediency

Experience

Expertise

Exploration

Expressiveness

Extravagance

Extroversion

Exuberance

Facilitating

Fairness

Faith

Fame

Fascination

Fashion

Fearlessness

Fidelity

Fineness

Finesse

Firmness

Fitness

Flexibility

Flow

Fluency

Fluidity

Focus

Fortitude

Frankness

Freedom

Friendliness

Frugality

Fun

Gallantry

Generosity

Gentility

Genuineness

Giving

Grace

Gratefulness

Gratitude

Gregariousness

Growth

Guidance

Happiness

Harmony

Health

Heart

Helpfulness

Heroism

Holiness

Honesty

Honor

Hopefulness

Hospitality

Humility

Humor

Hygiene

Imagination

Impact

Impartiality

Impeccability

Independence

Industry

Ingenuity

Inquisitiveness

Insightfulness

Inspiration

Instinctiveness

Integrity

Intelligence

Intensity

Intimacy

Intrepidness

Introversion

Intuition

Intuitiveness

Inventiveness

Joy

Judiciousness

Justice

Keenness

Kindness

Knowledge

Lavishness

Leadership

Learning

Liberation

Liberty

Liveliness

Logic

Longevity

Love

Loyalty

Majesty

Mastery

Maturity

Meekness

Mellowness

Meticulousness

Mindfulness

Moderation

Modesty

Motivation

Mysteriousness

Neatness

Nerve

Obedience

Open-mindedness

Openness

Optimism

Opulence

Order

Organization

Originality

Outlandishness

Outrageousness

Passion

Peacefulness

Perceptiveness

Perfection

Perseverance

Persistence

Persuasiveness

Philanthropy

Piety

Playfulness

Pleasantness

Pleasure

Plentiful-ness

Poise

Polish

Popularity

Potency

Practicality

Pragmatism

Precision

Preeminence

Preparedness

Presence

Privacy

Proactivity

Proficiency

Professionalism

Prosperity

Prudence

Punctuality

Purity

Qualification

Quietness

Quickness

Realism

Readiness

Reason

Recognition

Recreation

Refinement

Reflection

Relaxation

Reliability

Resilience

Resolution

Resolve

Resourcefulness

Respect

Restfulness

Restraint

Reverence

Richness

Rigor

Sacredness

Sacrifice

Sagacity

Saintliness

Sanguinity

Satisfaction

Security

Self-control

Selflessness

Self-realization

Self-reliance

Sensitivity

Sensuality

Serenity

Service

Sexuality

Sharing

Shrewdness

Significance

Silence

Silliness

Simplicity

Sincerity

Skillfulness

Smartness

Sophistication

Solidarity

Solidity

Solitude

Soundness

Speed

Spirit

Spirituality

Spontaneity

Stability

Stillness

Strength

Structure

Substantiality

Success

Sufficiency

Support

Supremacy

Surprise

Superbness

Sympathy

Synergy

Tactfulness

Teamwork

Temperance

Thankfulness

Thoroughness

Thoughtfulness

Thrift

Tidiness

Timeliness

Traditionalism

Tranquility

Transcendence

Trust

Trustworthiness

Truth

Understanding

Uniqueness

Unity

Usefulness

Utility

Valor

Variety

Victory

Vigor

Virtue

Vision

Vitality

Vivacity

Warmth

Watchfulness

Wealth

Wholesomeness

Willfulness

Willingness

Winning

Wisdom

Wittiness

Wonder

Worthiness

Zeal

Zest

Zing