Your thoughts are not neutral and unimportant, they matter

When I spoke to people about their one-word intentions for the New Year, one of the responses that struck me the most was “discipline.”

Discipline gets a bad rap. It sounds nagging and annoying, but it doesn’t have to be a thrill or a bummer. Applied correctly, discipline can help maximize happiness and success. I love it as an intention.


Discipline is one of the main pillars of the virtual program I run, Mindset Workouts. Just as physical workouts help us train our bodies to become stronger and healthier, a healthy mindset takes some work. Our whimsical monkey mind needs training, a little discipline, to feel strong and good.
What does that look like?
For starters, it’s not happy, happy, joy, joy. It doesn’t push everything out except positivity and stamping smiley faces everywhere. Mental discipline means that we become more aware of what is going on in our heads.

MORE FROM MARCI SHARIF: How to Right Your Mistakes in 5 Steps and Start the New Year Strong
We tend to believe that thoughts happen in the privacy of our own heads, so they don’t really matter; they don’t have much influence. But I see it this way: our thoughts set the tone in our mind. They determine how our minds are set, and our mindset influences everything from how we see and interpret the world to how we behave and interact with each other.

Marci Sharif will be teaching a workshop on three ways to improve your mindset at YogaTres in Bellaire on February 4; YogaTres.com/workshops.

Workshop Mindset training
04 February 2023
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Location: Yoga Tres 5427 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, TX 77401

You can also sign up to participate in the weekly virtual Mindset Workout program at marcisharif.com.


A healthy mindset is one that is resilient and more positively oriented. We are better able to deal with life’s ups and downs and recover from blows. We are more inclined to see the bright side of things and find fun. We can all benefit from moving more and more in this way.
And that brings us back to discipline.
Disciplining our minds and fine-tuning our mindsets starts with awareness: Awareness of what goes on in our heads and of the principle that our thoughts do matter.

Enter the exercise we are doing this week as Mindset Workout. It only takes a minute and it comes straight from a spiritual text called “A Course in Miracles” – you can play with it too.
The practice involves closing your eyes, locating each thought as it arises, and, essentially, teaching yourself that thoughts matter. For example, you could say, “This thought of ____ is not a neutral thought. This thought of ____ is not a neutral thought,” and so on. This should only take a minute, but ideally do it for at least a few days to allow the concept to sink in.

This short meditative exercise helps us to a.) become more aware of our thoughts and b.) absorb the idea that our thoughts are not meaningless or neutral, that they do have effects. It has helped me see how my thoughts affect my behavior, and everyone around me is affected by even a seemingly benign thought such as “the house is a mess.”
I hope you’ll give this exercise a try. Keep in mind that everyone’s thoughts can go wild and in all directions. The thoughts you notice say nothing about you, and learning which thoughts to listen to and which to ignore is another important part of building a healthy mindset.
So don’t think too long about this (that never helps anything), but see how it feels. If it opens or loosens your mind, you’re on to something good – and that’s what it’s all about.

Marci Izard Sharif is an author, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator and mother. In Feeling Matters she writes about self-love, sharing self-care tools, stories and resources to get to know yourself and be kind to yourself.

Your thoughts are not neutral and unimportant, they matter

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