Inside: Discover what neutral thinking is and how you can use it to live more intentionally each day.
A guest post by Cora Gold
You may have heard of positive and negative thinking, but have you heard of neutral thinking?
Neutral thinking creates a balance by not focusing on either end of emotional thinking and helps you to make focused decisions for the here and now.
Athletes utilize neutral thinking regularly during the fast pace of games, helping them remove their judgment and think quickly and logically about their next move.
This type of thinking doesn’t just benefit athletes. Practicing neutral thinking can help you have a clearer head when making decisions and allows you to live a more intentional life.
What Is Neutral Thinking?
It’s said that there are two types of people in the world: those who see the “glass half full” and those who see the “glass half empty”.
This categorizes humans into emotional boxes without recognizing that both good and bad things will happen in your life, and you will naturally feel accordingly. However, there’s a coping mechanism that can be more effective than thinking positively. It’s neutral thinking.
Neutral thinking involves accepting the outcome of an event or situation, regardless of whether that outcome is good or bad. It’s easy to dwell on things we wish turned out differently. But those feelings create regret and frustration and don’t change what happened.
Instead, take a breath, accept what happened, and move on. That’s the power of neutral thinking.
You’ve likely heard of the “power of positive thinking,” but it’s important to know that sometimes it can do more harm than good. Being overly positive can set you up for failure should things not work out as planned.
You’re not a robot and no one is naturally positive all the time, so give yourself some grace by thinking neutrally instead, giving you the power to accept when plans don’t pan out.
Neutral thinking encourages you not to overthink a situation, but rather accept it for what it is. This is particularly helpful when you can no longer affect the outcome. Do your best, but don’t stress if things don’t work out the way you want initially.
Neutral Thinking for Intentional Living
Living neutral is all about your perception of an action or event that takes place in your life. Your perception can affect the amount of stress or anxiety you feel about a situation.
By making yourself live in the moment, thinking neutrally can help you take a more logical approach as you deal with life’s uncertainties. Neutral thinking puts things into perspective by removing judgment and lessening emotions from the equation allowing you to see a situation more clearly.
Having a neutral mindset can help you focus on what’s happening at the moment and eliminates the need to stress over the past or future. This mindset helps you live intentionally by drawing your attention to your current actions.
Living intentionally means building your life around your values and beliefs, regardless of the ones your family or society may place on you.
Intentional living also involves focusing only on what really matters in life. If you adopt a neutral outlook on life, you can make it easier to live simply.
Rather than attaching meaning or sentimentality to everything, try leaning into minimalism by having a neutral perspective on your life. Let go of things that don’t serve a true purpose.
Living neutrally can be a great first step towards living more simply and minimally.
Think about when you want to declutter your home, but you associate all of your possessions with a memory. “I can’t get rid of my child’s old toys. Too many good memories.”
If you can view those items neutrally, it becomes easier to let go of sentimental items as you’re able to separate the thing from the memory and learn to move on with a simpler life.
Mindfulness and neutral thinking go hand in hand. Being mindful is all about living the life of “pura vida” or “stopping to smell the roses.” It’s about focusing on what really matters in life without getting swept up in all the menial tasks on the docket.
People who are mindful don’t get caught up in material possessions and think neutrally about their usefulness. They recognize that most physical objects don’t need to be kept around just because you have a past connection to them.
They also don’t think about a way the object could be used five years from now. Mindful people are grateful for the experiences they have right now.
Being mindful also means appreciating what you are doing at the moment without passing judgment on yourself. Neutral thinking allows you to do this since you are moving on from what previously happened and not worrying about what is going to happen.
While neutral thinking helps you achieve mindfulness, mindfulness can help you achieve neutral thinking. Neutral thinking is easier said than done and requires practice.
One way to work toward neutral thinking is by using mindful breathing techniques and meditation practices that ground you in what is happening now. Mindful journaling can be helpful too.
Decrease Your Anxiety
Neutral thinking can help you in anxious situations by bringing you “into the now” versus the various places your mind can go in a stressful situation.
When you’re doing something that makes you nervous, it’s easy to overthink it. You think about what could go wrong and how embarrassing or even hurtful that could be.
Maybe someone has failed in the past and you’re afraid of repeating that failure. These negative thoughts fill your head and distract you from doing the task you’re worried about not doing well. It’s a vicious cycle.
Living intentionally is about eliminating those intrusive thoughts and focusing on where you are and what you’re doing right now.
For example, right now, you are reading this article. Living intentionally means you are putting your focus on reading it, without letting yourself stress about what you did before or are doing after.
Chronic stress or anxiety can have a major impact on not just your mental health, but your physical health as well. It can cause everything from achiness and insomnia to high blood pressure and an increased heart attack risk.
By clearing your head and living intentionally, you reduce your stress and anxiety levels and help mitigate those risks.
Neutral thinking can help you get unstuck in your life by focusing on the things you can control and letting go of the rest.
Use Neutral Thinking Daily
Switching to a neutral mindset doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intentionality and ongoing practice. Using neutral thinking daily can help you to be more present as you live a calmer, more focused life.
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of Revivalist magazine. She loves writing about family and living life to the fullest. Follow Cora on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Do you practice neutral thinking? If so, share how it’s benefitted you in the comments section.
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This was an completely new thought to me! I never thought was thinking neutrally because I’m generally a very emotional and sensitive person but I do think very neutrally about material things and even problems. It reminds me of this novel I just read, “How To Stop Time” by Matt Haig. In it he learns that is he going to enjoy life at all he has to stop trying to get back the past and prevent the future. It’s a great read.
Reminds me of the chess player’s adage….play the board in front of you. (Don’t worry about the blunder you made)