Thoughts are tricky things.

Persistent, plentiful, sometimes illuminating and frequently haunting— at all times, in all moments our thoughts seem to be doing one of two things: setting us free or holding us hostage.

No matter where we go or what we do, we are incessantly interrupted by the nonstop background chatter of our thoughts. Big thoughts. Little thoughts. Ideas. Fears. Doubts. Memories. Worries. Joys— we can’t escape them. They completely permeate our consciousness.

The problem is that we are often so preoccupied with the sheer number of thoughts that need considering, contemplating and rationalizing, it becomes difficult to find the space to actually explore them objectively. We have no reliable, built-in method for evaluating how true our thoughts are or how much weight they deserve, so by default, every thought gets equal merit. And to make matters even more complicated, our brains are biased to believe that the more we entertain a particular notion, the more “real” or “true” it must be.

Of course this deeply ingrained, unconscious mental “shortcut” can either work for us or against us.

Because it is the kind of thoughts we entertain that have been shown to dramatically affect the quality of our health, our happiness levels and our general way of being in the world. Which is to say, the more time we spend thinking about negative things, the more negative our approach to life tends to be. And when our approach to life is negative, our experiences tend to reflect that negativity right back to us.

But what if we could start choosing our thoughts, instead of allowing our thoughts to choose us?

What if we could train our minds to release the disturbing notions that don’t serve us instead of entertaining every fear and worry by default? What if we had the power to separate the truth from the nonsense? To engage only the thoughts, ideas and perspectives that helped us forge a deeply fulfilling mental path? To disregard the circular reasoning, the what ifs, the worst case scenarios that keep us up at night? What might happen then?

And don’t we owe it to ourselves to find out?

Because the truth is, even more powerful than our thoughts is our ability to hone them. Our capacity to choose how far we are willing to allow our minds to wander without the presence of a responsible adult. And, of course, our understanding that happiness isn’t simply a virtue bestowed only upon the lucky few, but a hard fought mental victory, achieved through the dutiful practice of mindful repetition.