Something I do a lot of is visualisation, which can be an exceptionally productive, positive and uplifting form of practice. It is something I would advise and guide through when I worked as a counsellor. As mentioned in other articles, if you run a race in your mind, all the muscles involved with that run activate, even when you're not moving. If I described eating a lemon to you down to the last detail, it would probably invoke a certain physiological reaction. That very concept should inform us that our thoughts have such an impact on our physical states, which is why it is so important to feed ourselves with positive and objective thoughts instead of dwelling into the past or worrying about things that have yet to occur, if they ever do.
Many people do physical exercise, because it helps with their mental state. Personally, I feel that in most cases, it is more beneficial to train your mind before your body. If for some reason you are unable to train, your mental state will suffer because it is dependent on the physical act of training. Putting the mind first allows you to be able to adapt and deal with stressful situations more effectively. I regard my mind to be the driver and my body the car. Even if the car is a Ferrari, if the driver is compromised or drunk behind the wheel, it doesn't matter how good the car is; harm will surely come to the driver, passenger, bystander or all parties. This is why I feel that mental and spiritual practices are so important to a healthy well being; where your attention goes and how you think, your body will certainly follow.
I mentioned in another article that if we think 50,000 thoughts a day, 70% tends to be negative; if I had £50,000 a day but spent £35,000 on things that made me unhappy, you'd think me crazy. I therefore try to spend all that money on things that made me (and others!) happy; I try to do the same thing, where I spend my thoughts as wisely as I would like to spend my money. We can only think one thought at a time and it can be difficult to stop those intrusive train of thoughts, which is why it can be helpful to speak out loud and change the narrative so we don't spiral and descend.
Personally, I stopped thinking in words decades ago; I instead think in pictures (which certainly helps with working in the film!). It is entirely possible to do this and can be exceptionally freeing. We all do this because when we recall a memory, we are thinking in pictures. It takes some practice, but this can be applied to our current train of thought. So when it comes to visualisation, I try to visualise my future the same way I remember my past.
When it comes to visualisation, one of my favourite exercises is looking at Future Jon. I don't look at what he has achieved or what possessions he has, but rather who he is as a person. He is kind, hard working, patient, organised, good attention to detail, easy to work with and likeable. Those are attributes that I can apply to myself now and work towards becoming because I am designing who Future Jon is and how I can become him and then what I want to achieve is more likely to happen for me. Visualisation may cast your mind into the future; your physical body just needs the requisite time to get there. It's not fake it till you make it because you're working on those traits to become a better version of yourself. When we are faced with a situation, often we only think about the present way of dealing as opposed to how Future Us may want us to have dealt with it. Is how we deal with something now aligned with how we would have wanted our future selves to have dealt with it? That is certainly a question we should consider in order to progress.
If we can suffer from imagined troubles, then we also have the ability to enjoy imagined possibilities.
I might write more and tweak this article another time as this has been a bit of mind dump! Thank you for bearing with me =)