Do you sometimes (or often) find yourself looking at your world through a pessimistic lens? You have mountains of work to get through that you tell yourself you’ll never get through in time, back-to-back meetings that you don’t see any value in, you have to be at the kids’ school by 5pm for their concert, today of all days! And you catch every darn red light you can, so you’ll never make it.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, many of us have a constant stream of thoughts racing through our minds at any given time. (‘I didn’t finish X today so I’ll have twice as much to do tomorrow! Why didn’t she ring me back today like she said she would? I didn’t go to the gym today, I’m just so fat and lazy!’) It seems there’s an epidemic of what meditation teacher Maree Hollebone refers to as “stinkin’ thinkin’”. And quite frankly, it’s doing us no favours.

You may not even realise you do it, or just how often you do. The good news though is that you have the power to change your thought pattern.

The power of the mind is strong – whether used for positive or negative thoughts. And that’s why Maree says to put a positive, grateful angle on all our inner thoughts.

“I’m about stepping out of that stinkin’ thinkin’,” says Maree of her meditation philosophy, which she teaches through her business Mind Massage – Creating Positive Minds.

Through meditation, you can become more self-aware. You can more readily recognise when you are having a negative thought and adjust your thinking.

This aligns with mindfulness, a form of meditation that relies on concentration and living in the moment, not the past or future.

“Mindfulness is such a big buzz word at the moment, but it’s just another type of meditation,” says Maree. “It’s the way we think about things, the way we look at things.

“For example, you can be standing at the kitchen sink thinking, ‘Argh, I’ve got to do these ALL these dishes!’ Or you can choose to enjoy the moment by thinking, ‘Oh the water feels so lovely and warm on my tired hands. I’m actually enjoying scrubbing this plate that I love, it’s one of my favourite plates.’

“Mindfulness is changing how you think about things.”

Maree says for people who are really stressed or anxious, the ideal time to start shutting down the overthinking is before it even begins.

“As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, before you jump out of bed, before the day starts and the stinkin thinkin’ begins, just lay in bed and take five minutes to think about how grateful you are. Think about your nice warm bed, and say to yourself that you are going to have a great day.

“Practice gratitude for what you have, not for what you wish you did have,” says Maree, emphasising the importance of this in today’s world of consumerism.

“We often forget what we actually need as opposed to what we think we want. Ask yourself, ‘is wanting these things damaging my mental health’?”

Is it easy to change your thinking? Not necessarily, but it’s like anything – the more you practice meditation, the easier it becomes. Consider it a regular workout for your mind. It’s a workout in positive thinking.

 This article is one in a four-part series. Read the rest.