Thinking/cognition and behavior – relationship and impact
Does our thinking affect our behavior or vice versa or both? This information may be useful in figuring out ways to motivate ourselves to take up new challenges
Saying that our thinking affects our behavior is an understatement. Actually, our thinking controls all the conscious and unconscious ways in which we behave. Our entire behavior is a result of our thought process.
There are two important ways of thinking which severely affects our behavior- positive thinking and negative thinking. It appears that positive and negative thinking are an effect of the situation. For example, a person who has lost a dear one or has had an accident will have a strong tendency for negative thinking. On the contrary, a person who has received a reward or a have won a lottery, normally should be very positive in his thinking. However, our situations are not the solitary cause of our thinking process.
In an average person, the thinking process is a result of constant unconscious practice. If a person is brought up to think positive, he might dig up some of the other reason to be happy. Even if he is sad, he might overcome the grief and regain his happiness. On the other hand, if a person is prone to negative thinking, he might find one or the other problem to grieve about.
The concept of the half full- half empty glass is very much applicable in the case of thinking and behavior. Cognition is the process of reception of the stimuli and forming a perception about the same. Now the glass is half full and half empty. The eyes will convey the same; however, the perception will be formed according to the thinking tendency of the person.
Taking the above-stated examples, a person who has lost a dear one might thank god for the beautiful time spent with the deceased loved one or might thank god that he is still alive or that the money on medical bills will now be saved!!! All these are examples of positive thinking.
Similarly, a person who has received a reward might be miserable that he did not receive a higher reward or a better amount on the winning lottery ticket. He might actually grieve about not betting more amounts on the same lottery ticket.
Effect of thinking on behavior:
The Law of Attraction holds true as the negativity attracts more negativity and positivity attracts more positivity.
Positive people naturally attract other qualities which help them to be more successful, like patience, hope, perseverance, and satisfaction. They are happy to take risks in life, which helps them to learn through failure or grow through success. They have a life full of friends, well-wishers and good people around them because they choose to trust the people in general. They are able to extract the full benefit of any opportunity because their positive attitude helps them to spot the opportunity in the first place and then to give a sincere attempt to gain some real advantage from it. They normally do not give up after failures, but improve on them. They can have a successful family life, job or business. Besides, they have the fortune of satisfaction which restores their energy to work harder.
Again, considering the above examples, the person with the negative thinking will waste his precious time and energy from unnecessary mopping, brooding, grief, lack of interest in work and serious psychological conditions like anxiety disorder, depression etc. The world looks like the way we want to see it. They have a tendency of not giving a sincere try because they are never hopeful of success. Sometimes negative people give up when just a little distance away from success.
Such people tend to be failures at their job, business, family life and other dimensions of life. Such people hate to take risks. They prefer to stick to safety and familiarity even if it is irrelevant. They are prone to early aging, and lifestyle disorders like hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorders, infertility etc. It is hard for them to get cured of diseases because of the effect of negative thinking on their body.
Therefore it is important to have positive thinking. And positive or negative thinking is not inborn. It can be developed consciously or unconsciously over a period of time. We should consciously try to nurture positive thinking in all the dimensions of our lives.
Now, on the other hand, our behavior also affects our thinking. This actually can be used to reinforce positive or negative thinking. Because thinking when converted to action, reinforces the parent-thought. On the other hand, opposite behavior diminishes the negative or positive thoughts.
For example, when we are angry with someone and we express our anger in words or action, the effect of anger is reinforced in our minds. In fact, sometimes it becomes a vicious cycle of “give and take” of anger and negativity between two people. However, if when angry, we try to sing a happy song, take deep breaths, chant some mantra or think of someone we love, the anger will diminish or disappear. Here the behavior can be used to induce a new thought process or reinforce the old one. The advantage with behavior is that it is under our conscious control and can be more easily manipulated then the thoughts.
Each one of us can identify our personal emotional weaknesses like depression, anxiety, anger, impatience etc. and can devise a personalized method to improve ourselves. The people with aural learning style and who like music can make a personal playlist for each occasion, for example, an inspirational playlist for moments of depression, a happiness playlist for moments of anger. A visual person can keep the happy pictures of loved ones to feel happy in the trying times and a kinesthetic person can try laughter therapy or clapping, dancing, singing etc. to remove negative feelings.
Not only applicable for negative emotions like anger, depression etc. , positive behavior can also help us to improve productivity, efficiency, memory and various other intangible factors. Breathing exercises are a good proof of how behavior may affect thinking.
Thought and behavior are related to the string and the ball of the pendulum. They go together and each one is directly affected by the other. Change the thought and the behavior will be transformed, change the behavior and the thoughts will be altered!