Many of my meditation students ask me how to have a good state of mind. And when they ask me, I am reminded of a famous Lao Tzu quote: “If you correct your mind the rest of your life will fall into place.” Because with a good state of mind, anything is possible.
When we talk about a good state of mind, we obviously mean a happy mindset. But it also goes further than that. A good state of mind is one that is positive, productive, motivated, happy, and compassionate.
According to  researcher Suzanne Oosterwij and her team, our state of mind is the combination of our emotions, body feelings, and thoughts. If you want to have a good state of mind, you need to work on those different factors. Let me show you how.
Here are some simple ways to have a good state of mind:
- Practise positive thinking exercises
- Have fun
- Take time to relax
- Change negative thoughts and beliefs
- Do yoga, tai chi, and other forms of Integrated Body Mind Training
- Keep a journal
- Look at the big picture
- Spend time with family and friends
- Spend time in nature
- Go somewhere different
- Drink enough water
- Set realistic goals
- Start a healthy hobby that makes you happy
Correct Your Mind and The Rest of your Life Will Fall Into Place, Here’s How
As I mentioned earlier, I love the Lao Tzu quote, “Correct your mind and the rest of your life will fall into place.” I love it because it is true. If you have a good state of mind, you will have a happy life. Because ultimately, it is your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that create your reality.
As Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D. says, “. Your thoughts, if you think them over and over, and assign truth to them, become beliefs. Beliefs create a cognitive lens through which you interpret the events of your world.” This is why Lao Tzu, the father of philosophical Daoism, was right. If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.
Sounds great. But you need to now how to have a good state of mind. So let me show you how.
Meditate so you are aware of your thoughts (which create your mindset)
Your thoughts create your reality. So if you want to change your life you need to change your thoughts. To do that, however, you first have to be aware of your thoughts. Then you can change them.
The process works like this:
- Clear your mind
- Become aware of your thoughts
- Observe recurring thoughts
- Change recurring negative thoughts
You need to clear your mind first so you are aware of your thoughts. And the best way to do that is to practise meditation. Read my beginners meditation guide to get started.
Now procede to step 2, below.
Observe negative thoughts
Now that you have cleared your mind, you will find it much easier to observe your thoughts. You want to pay attention to specific types of thoughts. Namely, you want to look for recurring thoughts. These are thoughts that you experience over and over. They form the basis of your beliefs, and they are a core part of your state of mind.
You want to look for thoughts you experience repeatedly. And you also want to notice specific themes of thoughts.
For instance, let’s say that you notice that a lot of your thoughts are judgmental thoughts about yourself. You are self critical. This is an area of your mindset that you will want to change. For now, just make note of it.
Or you might notice that you experience fatalistic thinking. This is the idea that if something goes wrong it will be the end of the world.
Make notes of recurring thoughts and recurring themes in your thoughts. These are the thoughts you will work on in the next step.
Change your state of mind by changing your thoughts
If you have read this up to here, you will now be aware of the different types of recurring thoughts you experience. For example, I personally often experience negative thoughts about the idea that I am running out of time to do things in my life. This is stupid because I’m only 39. But negative thoughts indeed often are stupid.
Now we want to change those recurring negative thoughts. When you do this you will gradually change your beliefs, and this will change your state of mind.
To change these thoughts, we will use some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy exercises. This is a form of therapy devised by Dr. Aaron T. Beck. These exercises are excellent ways to change thoughts and beliefs, and thereby change your state of mind.
Here are some exercises you can use:
- Notice any negative and illogical thoughts. Change them to positive and realistic thoughts.
- Notice when you assign too much value to one idea. For instance, you might think that if you break up with your partner it will be the end of the world. When you notice such a thought, think more realistic about the consequences. Sure, a breakup would be hard, but our life would continue anyway.
- Always aim to think compassionately about yourself and other people.
- Practise gratitude
- Balance self criticism. If you think negative things about yourself, also think positive things about yourself
- If you are judgmental about other people for mistakes they made, consider the human flaws that led them to make that mistake. Remember that we are all human and all liable to make mistakes.
Your state of mind the result of your emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations. You can change your state of mind by practising the exercises we have looked at above. Plus, by using the cognitive behavioural therapy exercises (above) you will change your thoughts. In turn, this will change your beliefs and your state of mind.