What's in a Thought?

Jun 11, 2020

Or, listen on Spotify

We spend our entire lives having thoughts, but because no one else can hear them we can fool ourselves into thinking they don't matter unless we act on them. But the tone and word choices of our inner dialogue are incredibly important. Today's episode offers Commune course excerpts from three teachers – Lauren Zander, Danielle LaPorte, and Brendon Burchard – on how to cultivate thought patterns that uplift your life.

If you like hearing from multiple teachers like this, check out the Commune Wellness Summit. Sign up for free here: onecommune.com/summit.

Jeff: Hi, I’m Jeff Krasno and welcome to Commune, a global wellness community and online course platform featuring some of the world’s greatest teachers. We’re on a mission to inspire, heal, pass down wisdom, and bring the world closer together.

This is the Commune podcast, where each week we explore the ideas and practices that help us live healthy, connected and purpose-filled lives.

Today we bring you another sampling of lessons from courses we released this past year. If you like hearing from multiple teachers like this, head over to onecommune.com/summit to sign up to the Commune Wellness Summit. It’s a free, 10-day program containing full lessons from 25 top teachers. That’s onecommune.com/summit.

Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts profoundly impact us. We spend our entire lives having thoughts and because no one else can hear them or sense them, we think they are fairly inconsequential unless we act upon them.

Think of the last time you had a thought, whether that was blaming yourself for a previous breakup or feeling accomplished in your career. How did the thought make you feel? Did it impact the rest of your day?

Today’s podcast is about the power of our thoughts: what are thoughts and what is our relationship to them. We’ve pulled excerpts from three Commune courses: Learn to Human Better with Lauren Zander, Free + Clear with Danielle LaPorte, and The Wellness Master Class with Brendon Burchard.

First is Lauren Handel Zander, an executive life coach, spiritual surgeon, and creator of Inner.U and The Handel Method.

In this short segment, Lauren likens our inner dialogue to a club where the bouncer has been asleep on the job. As Lauren points out, “There’s an illusion that nothing important is really going on in our heads. But the truth is, there’s a party going on in there where all our thoughts, theories, and inner dialogues dance.” Who you choose to let in is important.

Here’s Lauren to explain.

SEGMENT 1: Thoughts Gone Wild with Lauren Handel Zander

Whether we realize it or not, our thoughts profoundly impact us. We spend our entire lives having thoughts and because no one else can hear them or sense them, we think they are fairly inconsequential unless we act upon them.

But is that true?

Sure, there’s a level we’ll admit to knowing that we live in our heads a bunch, but are we really that attuned to the dark, shallow, and mean things we say to ourselves when we look in the mirror? When we’re in that meeting hating our boss? When we’re commuting to work? When we are lying next to our partner?

No way.

There’s an illusion that nothing important is really going on in our heads. But the truth is, there’s a party going on in there where all our thoughts, theories, and inner dialogues dance. But, we don’t even know everybody there. We’ve all done such a lousy job as bouncer of that club, it’s kind of amazing.

How could it not matter? We’re listening to it all the time. There’s a whole level of consciousness that we are not tapped into, and worse — we’re not tapped in on purpose.

Much of whatever is plaguing a person is located in their inner-dialogue.

Mastery over your mind comes from the learned ability to choose what is best for you to think and feel. To get your own hands back on your life’s remote control and press mute when your mind messes with what matters most to you.

Heading in IS your way out.

Truth is, in areas where you ARE succeeding, you’ve harnessed your mind. If you have a great career, an awesome family, an impressive community, and a hot and healthy body you HAVE figured out how to put a muffler on your mind. You have figured out how to have a great meeting, keep your sales goals, AND tell the waiter to take the breadbasket that’s tempting you far, far, away.

You’ve even figured out that if you don’t listen to that inner voice, it (eventually) shuts up.

But, in every other area of your life where you’re not winning (YET!), you haven’t dealt with it.

You haven’t separated yourself from your inner dialogue, your thoughts, and your theories.

Except, now you are going to start detaching yourself from them. You are going to stop and giggle as you notice what nasty things your head says about the project you are working on, or what the idiot on your team just said, or about the driver next to you. Your higher self is going to ask your lower self, “Is that really me? What am I really like?”

And you will see that the very moment YOU start to ask yourself what you’re really like, YOU have a say over it.

Jeff: Mastery over your mind comes from the learned ability to cultivate what is most beneficial for you to think and feel. As we just heard, much of whatever is plaguing you is located in your inner-dialogue.

Your thoughts are powerful.

For many people, the root cause of stressful thoughts is “being busy.” Maybe you have a demanding career. Maybe you’re a full-time college student. Maybe you’re a new parent dealing with that particular chaos. And then the car breaks down. Or you get sick on top of it all.

The point is we are all busy, right?

Well, let’s delve into this concept of “busyness.” If you re-frame obligations into conscious choices, your obligations become a more powerful form of service and self respect.

Our next guest is Danielle LaPorte, a speaker, poet, painter, former business strategist and Washington think tank exec. As Danielle says, “By nature, the concept of obligation is restraining. It binds us. It requires obedience.”

Here’s Danielle to explain how our language shapes our reality.

SEGMENT 2: Busyness + Reframing Obligations with Danielle LaPorte

I want to talk about busyness.

I'm bringing this up because, when you review your year, as you recapitulate your past timeframe, listen for what was your busyness, and what was just a beautiful fullness. Start thinking about how you make the choice between the two.

Let's talk about how busy we say that we are. Also, I'm bringing this up because our language shapes our reality. “Sorry, I've been busy. I'm just so busy with. I've been too busy, too busy, too busy, busy. It's so busy right now. Busy.” We're all busy. Just get in line. We're busy. That's life. That's my life. That's probably your life. That's most people's lives. Grown-up humans tend to be busy. Then you add in kids and business start-ups and setbacks into the mix, and you have so much more of life to be busy about. Now, of course, there's a caveat to this. There's always an exception to every theory. Tragedies happen. Setbacks happen, and we're more than busy when we're flattened. We have to go flat-out. Sometimes life is just about staying afloat. What I'm talking about here is how, as a culture, we normalize our addiction to busy lifestyles, and then we frame that. We support that with our language around being busy. "I'm just so busy," is typically this kind of gasping, rushed, sometimes kind of whiny refrain. It's become this contemporary anthem, and it doesn't make us look more important. It actually makes us look just this side of frazzled and burned out, and it's typically, well, it's often used as an apology, as an excuse or a duck-out. It's as if something else that's life master, that's in control of you is making you do stuff that you do not want to do. You know, even as a well-intended social pleasantry, "Sorry, I've been busy," you know? It just has this slight kind of frantic worry flavor to it. Whatever is on your plate is there because you said yes to it. You said yes consciously, intentionally, or it was unconscious. You said yes out of love. You said yes out of joy. You said yes out of service, out of fullness. Or you said yes out of obligation. I'll talk about obligation in a minute.

Now, sometimes, we take on to-dos, things that get on our plate, and we commit to climb mountains because our heart is calling us to do that, because our soul is almost demanding it of us. Sometimes, life throttles us with unforeseen circumstances, with unrelenting demands. Like, I get it. And sometimes, busyness is just a result of keeping up with the Joneses, you know? The point here is that busy can be healthy, and busy can also be sickness, but busy is always a choice.

You know, I've noticed that the refrain, "Sorry, I've been busy," sometimes we use this to please people who are busy-body types. They're the kind of people who text you to see if you got their email, you know? So we're just, we're trying to use this mutual busyness as a way of meeting each other, as a way of connecting. You know, it's not entirely about saying the impulse to connect is healthy. It's a healthy and gorgeous impulse, but we just need to do busy and connection in a healthier way.

Alright, so new language around busy. What do we say to each other when we really can't fit in another meeting or another event into our calendar? And we have to send regrets. And we, you know, we just have to pass on the opportunity. Just tell people the truth, give or take. Just report on life. Report on life rather than, you know, being in victim or frantic mode about it. Deliver your truth with ease. You don't have to pass on any of that frantic, bravado energy, and you can just report. Say it with pride, if you're inclined. I've been traveling a lot for work. It's tax season. The start-up is all-consuming right now. I carved out a lot of time to be with my guy, my woman, my family. I'm really committed to my higher self right now, my imaginary friend, or to Netflix, whatever it is. Let people meet you in your clear truth, rather than your apologetic panic. You set the stress level when you set the tone, and you know what? A lot of times, you don't need to excuse yourself at all. Just show up in your fullness. No explanations or apologies are required for having a full life or being in demand. Just be present and be accountable because you know what? We all understand.

Let's talk about obligation, more specifically, re-framing obligation. Alright, let me riff off a list of so-called obligations. You have to feed your cat. You have to feed your kids. You have to feed any living creature who is dependent on you for food. You have to show up at your job, so you can earn a living. You are obligated to care for your elderly parents or your challenging aunts. You are obligated. You are obligated to be on time. You are suiting up and you are showing up for your team. You're obligated. You are morally obligated to help your brother stay off the streets. You are culturally obligated to show up at funerals, family holiday dinners. You're obligated to buy the wedding gift. You're obligated to say thank you for all the things in your life. You're obligated to say thank you for the wedding gift, even though you hate it. You're obligated to honor your word. You're obligated to the contract. You signed that contract. You made the promise. You're obligated. Even when it's incredibly inconvenient, you're obligated. Now, those all may sound like obvious obligations, right? This is a trick question by the way. We're obligated to those those things, aren't we? If we're moral, if we're ethical, if we're grown-up, those are obligations, right? If we don't do those things, we could be acting immoral. We could be heartless, irresponsible. We might be out of integrity. Obligation is a very heavy word, okay. You can hardly squeeze any vitality or joy out of the word obligation. By nature, the concept of obligation is restraining. You know, it binds us. It requires obedience. Energetically, obligation sucks. There's no mercy in it. So I think, universal proposal for a universal policy. I think we should strike obligation from our vocabulary, and insert choice, because you have free will. All of it. Everything I just listed. Anything that came to your mind that's obligation, all of that is a choice that you're making. Even if you have to drag yourself to do it. Even if you're counting the minutes or the dollars until it's over, you have decided. You are making a choice to rise to the occasion. You are choosing. You are choosing to be moral. You are choosing to be loving. You are choosing to be responsible. You are choosing to be in integrity, to show up. You are in a state of acceptance, not victimhood. No obedience, no torture, just free will. That is empowerment, that is the embodiment of self-agency.

So, reframe your obligations into conscious choices and then your obligations, so-called obligations, become a more powerful form of service and of self-respect. Show up with your free will. You choose.

Jeff: Thank you, Danielle. There is empowerment in knowing that what you thought of as an obligation is a conscious choice you are making. You choose to go to work. You choose to go to school. You choose to be responsible. Work, school, and being responsible aren’t obligations, they are choices you make. Doesn’t that feel freeing?

Now, let’s talk about cultivating thoughts of joy.

Our next segment is from Brendon Burchard, a #1 New York Times best-selling author and "the world's leading high performance coach.” Brendon shares with us three big ideas that have helped him, and many of his clients, consistently experience moments of great delight. Some of them are so simple, but I can attest, if you make them a part of your life—they work.

Here’s Brendon.

SEGMENT 3: Cultivating Joy with Brendon Burchard.

How do we create the conditions in our life where our wellness is really punctuated by lots of moments of joy? Here's three big ideas for you that have really helped me and a lot of my big clients. Okay, number one is you have to, at the beginning of each day, ask, “What can I do today that will bring me joy?”

I know that's so basic but it's got to be there. What can I do today that will bring me joy? I mean, what is it? Is it, okay, at two p.m., I'm going to stop working? I'm going to walk six blocks? I'm going to go to Starbucks and get the caramel macchiato latte pumpkin spice latte thing? Right, is that moment going to be a moment of pleasure that you bring into the day? Like you literally plan for it. Because you know what? Then all morning you're anticipating, and you're excited about that chocolate caramel macchiato pumpkin thingy thing, right? It's like, when you schedule and think about it, that generates anticipation.

And when it becomes something that happens, a different kind of pleasure, joy, and gratitude comes into your life. It can be that simple. Or maybe you say, “You know what? Today what's going to bring me joy in my life is I'm going to go to this person and I'm going to say thank you, or I'm going to reach out to an old friend, or I'm going to call that person who I haven't talked to, or I'm going to do this task that really has nothing to do with my job, but this particular task, I love doing it, so I'm going to give my hobby 10 minutes today.”

I want you to know, I mean literally, I want you to know by nine a.m. every day of your life from now on, what are you going to do today that's going to bring some joy? Like what is it? I want you to know that. If you don't know that by nine a.m. every day, it better be because you're sleeping in until 10, and that's okay. But I want you to know within that first hour of your day, what will you do today to bring joy into your life? I promise it will change your life forever.

The second big thing you can do is ask this type of question: Who could I surprise today? And I think this is such a powerful question. It's in my high performance planner, because it takes you outside of yourself. A lot of joy is actually socially created and cultivated, so I want you to set the conditions for that. I want you every day of your life to think of surprising somebody. And it can be a small thing. It can be a small gesture. You leave a box of chocolates on their table. You send them a note that praises them for a project they've been working on. They didn't expect to get that recognition from you. It could be a simple phone call, it can be a prank on somebody. I do a lot of pranks myself, personally. It brings me tons of joy. Not the joy from doing the prank, the joy from watching their dumb reaction to the dumb prank. I love that.

You’ve got to have something that creates a little bit of playfulness and silliness in your life, and surprise is a great way to access that. In fact, in a lot of psychological studies, joy is a result of the surprise. They get a surprise they didn't anticipate. They like it. That's joy. So you’ve got to create those conditions. Set up some surprises for some people in your life.

Number three, I want you to write two notes of appreciation every day. And when I say a note of appreciation, that note of appreciation could be to other people, or it can be to yourself. I don't care. But appreciation is the soil in which joy sprouts faster.

When I notice things. When I notice how she did a good job, when I notice I did what I said I was going to do, when I notice I crossed that one finish line, and I share appreciation, and I specifically make it a note. I write it. That's like setting the foundation for greater joy, right? Like I said, appreciation is the soil for joy. And if I can deepen that bedrock of appreciation by every day writing down something that I appreciate about myself, or about the world, it's huge.

Now I know in this day and time everyone loves a gratitude journal, so I hope you have one. I hope you're doing it. That's really great. I think the issue with a lot of things for gratitude is people take gratitude for granted. Maybe they get to it once in a while. I'm asking you to do this every day. Every single day. And you write the note of appreciation to yourself, meaning like, if I was writing it, I'd say, “Brendon, good job finishing that project, man. I appreciate how hard you worked, how you said no to other things, how you stuck to your word, and you committed it. Good job, dude.”

And I literally write that down. Like, I have a box of cards at home of notes of appreciation throughout my life, literally to myself, which, if that sounds really egoic and strange, I am rather strange. But it also kind of marks the moments of my life that were big, you know. And I love sending notes of appreciation to my family, my friend, my team, the people around me, randomly. I think it is just a component that changes people's lives.

You know, one of the best things that I do in my marriage, is my wife and I both, we text each other all the time. “Hey, want you to know I appreciate you, I love you, I know you're working out there hard. Hey, I know that it's been challenging lately, I really appreciate this, or hey, honey, I love you.”

Just like those little notes. Those happen every day. And I feel like so many people go so many days without feeling appreciated, and that's why joy isn't in their life. Even when something good happens, so many days lacked appreciation that the joy couldn't sprout. I think that's really important.

Another huge, huge thing of joy you have to do, is you have to have a special event planned twice a year. This is strategic. This is something you can do. This is tactical. I want a special event planned twice a year. That might mean for you, say, okay, we're going to do a girls' trip, you know, down to Mexico in March. And that's planned. Because the brain loves long-term anticipation too. And then when you go there, and they've done studies and happiness studies, that anticipating it brings just as much joy and happiness as actually doing it. I love that.

So I'd love for you to think about what's something you could do, twice a year. It might be guys' trip, girls' trip. It might be date night. It might be something as simple as staycation. You and your spouse are going to that one Friday, you're going to get the house in order, but then you're going to like hand off the kids to the babysitter, and it's your house. That's your night. You're together. It's so important to have that.

Then my other little favorite secret: Because joy grows in appreciation, every day I go back through weeks, or months, sometimes years on my phone, and I swipe through all my memories. So all the photos that I've taken. One of the reasons people lack happiness, or gratitude, or joy in their life, is they're always doing and not reflecting. It's always about the next thing and they forgot where they came from.

They're unwell inside, because they feel unfulfilled, because they're always chasing the next mountain and they've forgotten all these beautiful moments that they've captured in the last six months, six years, decade. And so I want you to make it a practice every single day to do what I call a memory check. And a memory check, maybe that's your photo album. You flip back through that wedding album, or the kids' albums, or those times when you were growing up. I want you to every single day, as a practice, scroll back through life for a moment, and give a moment of appreciation. Like, because how many pictures do you have that make you laugh? I bet you have in your phone hundreds of them. You go back, “Oh my God, look at my kid, he's kissing the camel. Why's he kissing the camel?”

And you'll start laughing, right? Or you go back and you see that picture of that time you spilled something on yourself and they took the picture. You go back and you see that funny face you made with your friend in the picture. There's joy in your phone but you haven't seen it in weeks or months, or years, but it's there. It's available, and it gives you appreciation and joy. It's literally there in that device. Like I said earlier, that device can be a weapon of mass distraction, or you can use it to shape the person you want to be by those alarm reminders. And you can shape it, use it to shape the emotions you want to feel.

Jeff: Wake up and plan something joyful for your day. Perform small, surprising acts of kindness. Spend time reflecting on what your grateful for. So simple, yet so powerful.

I hope this episode has given you some practical tools for living with your thoughts. Your thoughts are powerful, and while you may not have complete control over them, you do have power over how they affect you. You may not be able to control a certain situation or an outcome, but you can control how you feel.

To hear a wide variety of lessons across physical, spiritual, and societal health, I highly encourage you to sign up for the Commune Wellness Summit, a 10-day sampling of some of the best lessons on our platform. Go to onecommune.com/summit to sign up for free.

And last but not least, I want to give a quick acknowledgement to DJ Sol Rising, the talented artist behind our podcast theme song. The music you heard today on the show is from his new album Serenity. Go to solrising.com (that’s S O L rising) or look him up on Spotify.

That’s it for today from the Commune. Please leave us a review or send me an email at [email protected]. I can’t respond to every email, but I do read them all.

I’m Jeff Krasno, and thanks for listening.

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