Change your feelings by changing your thoughts

We’ve all had those days. Those days when we don’t want to get out of bed. Those days when we avoid other people. Those days when we want to cry. Those days when we do cry.

It could be the weather, an argument with a significant other, or even a mean case of PMS. Sometimes, we just feel depressed.

Last week, that was me. I was in a funk. Overwhelmed by school and life and homesickness, all I wanted to do was sit in my room and eat chocolate. And so I did just that.

Last Thursday, I was reaching into my drawer for another Hershey’s Kiss when I saw it: “Victory Over Depression,” Bob George’s bestselling book about how to live above your circumstances. Now, I’m not one for self-help books, and I wouldn’t label myself as a depressed person; but I was upset and in need of a little encouragement.

What I found was most certainly uplifting.

“Our emotions have no intellect,” George writes. “They do not analyze whether or not the scene in our mind reflects something that is actually happening or if it is something we conjured up in our imagination. Our emotions simply respond.”

And then, the kicker: “If you want to change how you feel, you have to change your thinking.”

The phrase “feelings follow thought” is one that has often been tossed around in psychology. Essentially, it means that our emotions are a result of whatever we are thinking about.

A recent article in Psychology Today included a quote from biomedical scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn.

“Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall,” he once wrote. This powerful paradox packs a punch: we allow our thoughts to control us.

Aaron T. Beck, an American psychiatrist in the 1960s, was all too familiar with this distorted thinking. He developed cognitive therapy in an attempt to help his patients learn to repair their thinking processes.

Some people turn to psychotherapy as a last resort. But what if there was a way we could make ourselves feel better without expensive treatment?

There is. It’s called positive thinking.

In order to experience true contentment, we must renew our minds. Sad thoughts produce sadness; happy thoughts produce happiness. It’s as simple as that.

Personally, I believe Paul phrases it best in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

True, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy thoughts. I can do that. Can you?

Melanie is a freshman in Media.