I’ve been thinking about thoughts for quite a while…not days…not months…a few years now.
Last December at our ward Relief Society Christmas dinner the guest speaker said that on average people think 300 negative thougths a day.
Is that true? I had to find out for myself. I bought a clicker. You know, one of those hand-held counters they use at ball games and carnivals. I went online and bought the happiest color I could find…yellow. (If one is going to focus on the negative, it should be as pleasant as possible.) And…I started counting.
I announced the experiment to my family informing them why I had a “clicker” fastened to my arm/wrist, in my pocket, in my purse or sitting on the counter next to me. That morning, while driving the kids to school, I set the clicker on the panel in between the two front seats. Meg (9) picked it up and looked at how many clicks I had.
“Eight!!??” She gasped. “Whoa! That is a lot! You have eight already!?”
I picked up the clicker…(Click.)
I decided to cover the numbers with masking tape so I couldn’t see how many I was accumulating throughout the day. They said 300 negative thoughts per day…I didn’t want to fall behind! I’m no slacker. So, in order to prevent myself from peeking and interferring with the accuracy (ha ha) of the test, I covered it up.
By the end of the day…I had racked up 124 clicks. A good portion of the clicks can be attributed to our puppy (9 months), Emmie. (Click.) I still don’t want a dog. (Click.) Occasionally, I found it annoying to have the clicker on my wrist. (Click.) There was a variety of “clicking” reasons.
Today’s clicking surprised me. 145 total…that I recognized and “gave myself credit for.” I’m certain that there were many negative thoughts that didn’t get clicked each day. (I didn’t say it was scientific…I just said it was an experiment.)
The thing that surprised me about the negative thoughts today was that most of them happened while Tim and I were on date night. Weird? Kind of…but kind of not…here’s what I realized. When I go on that much needed date night – that break during the week from the kids and cares of homemaking – I let down. I complain. I whine. I tell Tim everything that’s wrong. “The kids drove me nuts today.” (Click) “I’m having a bad hair day.” (Click) “The house is a mess.” (Click) “I didn’t get a minute to myself.” (Click) “I stubbed my toe on the kitchen table.” (Click, click) “My visiting teachers didn’t show up.” (Click.) Emmie chewed up a sock. (Click, click, clickety, click.)
Is that fun for a husband to hear? Wouldn’t he rather spend date night with a positive thinker? I had no idea I was doing that. It had never even occurred to me. It was a good eye opener.
Then, we went to a movie. It was PG-13, but I guess that isn’t saying much these days. I clicked. A. Lot.
DAY THREE – 98 clicks
DAY FOUR – 92 clicks
DAY FIVE – 57 clicks (I don’t remember why the number was so low…maybe I took a nap or ate ice cream. Either will cut down on negativity.)
DAY SIX – 141 clicks
Why a spike in the clicks? I watched myself on a video I had filmed for my children’s charter school. I had filmed a short question and answer interview and at the Jr. High orientation I saw it. I was so embarrassed about how I looked. Everything that I don’t like about my face seemed magnified a hundred and seven times on that screen. I couldn’t quit clicking. It was a click-fest. If I don’t ever see myself on video again for the rest of my life…it will be too soon.
After almost a week of clicking, I woke up one morning and felt really, really down. I was outright depressed. I felt sad and discouraged – and I had absolutely no reason to feel that way. Then it dawned on me… It was the experiment. By simply “clicking” the negative thoughts I was giving them enough attention and consequently enough power to effect my mood. John Kehoe, author of Mind Power said, “Although a single unaided thought hasn’t much power, through repetition the thought can become concentrated and directed, and its force can be magnified many times. The more the thought is repeated the more energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.”
Unexpected. Truly. I had no idea that paying even the slightest bit of attention to those negative thoughts could have that kind of effect on me. It wasn’t as if I dwelled on them once they came into my mind – NO, not at all. I actually tried to chase them away. But the click. The click acknowledged them enough to give the negative thoughts the ability to change my mood and outlook.
So…I decided to go a new direction with my experiment. And that will be part II.
Blog to you soon,