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How To Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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Problem Solving

Well-thinking is our term for a response-able and creative means of dealing with counterproductive thinking or worry. Well-thinking includes deciding on a course of action that will move us toward our desired outcome. It means using the mind to relax and/or substitute more intentional thinking about a problem or a condition in your body. Applied to worry, well-thinking might work like this:

Recognize it.the worry. As long as the worry or the counterproductive image remains as background noise or sensation, it will insidiously and unconsciously color everything in your life. The first step is acknowledging that this buzz or drone in your head, or that knot in your gut, is worry or negativity at work.

Ask whose problem it is. A lot of our worry is unnecessary. Many people take on the problems of others (or make problems of the actions of others) and simply ruminate about them, neither helping the situation nor the other person. Instead, they drain their own energies going around in circles in their minds. One way to short-circuit this pattern is to ask yourself the question, Is this mine, or does this worry, this problem, or this situation rightly belong to someone else?" For example, a college math instructor may certainly hope that her students will all pass their exams, and may do whatever she can to facilitate this. But it does neither her students nor herself any good to spend her nights worrying about the potential consequences of their failures.

Take one small step. If the "problem" is yours, pause a moment and determine if there's any action you could take right now that would improve the situation you are worrying about. Hours of procrastination mingled with worry can create a backlog of tension, which may be dissipated with simply making one "baby step" in a long-overdue task.

Maybe a phone call to make an appointment with your doctor is all it will take to get the ball rolling.

Maybe a moment of relaxation, or a deep breath, would break the ultra-serious nature of your approach.

Maybe a moment's prayer would serve to shift the context from complete self-absorption to an appreciation of the big picture. In some worldviews, people are encouraged to give up the problem to a higher power.

Maybe the heartful creation of an image or affirmation statement that incorporates the desired result is the best thing you can do. (continues)

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