Thinking Yourself Healthy: How You Think So Shall You Feel

Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus

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Gina complained that she felt down or upset a lot of the time. “I have no control over the way I feel,” she said.  When she learned that her thoughts were largely responsible for her feelings, she was able to gain much more control over her disturbing emotions.  She found that, with a bit of effort and application, it became possible to control and alter many of her negative thoughts.

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Almost everyone has heard the saying “mind over matter.”  While it’s doubtful that the human mind can control objects with pure mind power, what is becoming increasingly clear is that thoughts and perceptions can dramatically influence moods, feelings, and emotions.

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How many times have you heard someone say, “That really made me mad,” or “He upset me,” or “It bothered me,” as if external events had a direct control over our moods?  The fact is

  • it’s not events that trigger our emotions, rather it’s how we think about events that determine our feelings.

Our knee-jerk emotional reactions to external stimuli are really the combined effects of the external event and our interpretation of that event.  That’s the cognitive connection, the link that joins together events and emotions in the chain of our experiences.

This concept is at least two thousand years old and is often attributed to the philosopher Epictetus, who said “Men [and women] feel disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.”  Many centuries later, William Shakespeare rephrased this thought in Hamlet when he wrote: “There (is) nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

The fact is, we have tremendous control over our emotions and are not helpless stimulus-response creatures who are powerless over our moods.

  • Simply recognizing that thinking influences emotions is a very important step on the road leading to a happier and healthier life.

Negative thoughts can be challenged and changed.  This, in turn, leads to more positive feelings and emotions.

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Dr. Clifford N. Lazarus is a licensed psychologist, Co-founder and Clinical Director of The Lazarus Institute. In addition to his general psychotherapy practice, Dr. Clifford Lazarus specializes in health and neuropsychology.

Dr. Clifford Lazarus received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University where he was a Henry Rutgers Research Scholar.  Seen here are excerpts from one of his books, The 60-Second Shrink – 101 Strategies For Staying Sane In a Crazy World, a book, he co-authored with his father “One of the ten most influential psychotherapists in America”  Arnold A. Lazarus, Ph.D.  For more details on Dr. Clifford Lazarus visit this link to The Lazarus Institute.  Or visit his page here on friendlysuggestions.com.

Books available at Amazon by Arnold and Clifford Lazarus

Direct links to two highly recommended books by Dr. Clifford Lazarus & Dr. Arnold A. Lazarus:

The 60-Second Shrink: 101 Strategies for Staying Sane in a Crazy World 

Don’t Believe It for a Minute!: Forty Toxic Ideas That Are Driving You Crazy

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