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Thoughts get in the way

June 22, 2011

A Great Idea …


“Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.” (Psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman in his book, Authentic Happiness, p. 76)


In Other Words …


Rumination is a name for reprocessing our pains. Rumination is similar to what some mammals such as cattle and sheep do to digest their food. They swallow food, soften it in the first stomach and then regurgitate it to chew it some more. We humans occasionally do something similar psychologically. We process a painful experience and send it on to memory. Sometime later—probably when we’re feeling distressed–we bring the memory back to mull over. Often we start stacking our complaints. This destroys relationships and personal peace. Dwelling on the problems of the past can rob us of our futures.


How This Applies to You …


The next time you find yourself caught up in a negative thought, stop the thought. Find a new way of looking at the situation. Consider the other person’s point of view. Check your expectations. Ponder how you may have contributed to the misunderstanding. When we process painful experiences with understanding and compassion they lead to wisdom. Try reprocessing one of your painful experiences. By finding more positive ways to look at our past we will find it easier to experience peace and satisfaction in our present.


To Find Out More…


For an excellent (and free!) program on improving your personal well-being, check out The Personal Journey or Managing Stress at


For more in-depth reading we recommend Authentic Happiness by Martin E.P. Seligman or What Happy People Know by Dan Baker and Cameron Stauth.


One Comment
  1. June 22, 2011 1:47 pm

    I loved your Blog about personal well-being. I am going through a bad patch right now and your info was what I needed. Thanks.

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