Over two thousand years ago, the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, "We are not disturbed by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens to us."
This is as true now as it was then. Knowing this can help us diminish disturbance and increase peacefulness in our lives.
Here's how: If, for example, the tendency of our habitual mental self-talk is to make a tragedy out of every little inconvenience, then we will live in constant emotional disturbance because life is full of inconveniences.
If, however, we become aware of this unfortunate mental habit, we can change it.
To make the change, we watch our self-talk very carefully and note exactly how our thoughts create emotional disturbance. We want to catch them in the act. Yoga provides processes and skills that enable us to observe our self-talk. Once we observe the exact process by which our mental chatter turns a spark into an explosion, then we will be able to gently modify our self-talk to change the emotional reaction.
For example, if we observe that, when some small thing goes wrong, we habitually tell ourselves that "this is horrible and terrible things are going to happen because of it," we can begin telling ourselves, instead, something more accurate, such as "this is inconvenient (if it is), and I can deal with it." We first notice the old destructive pattern, then substitute in the new self-talk.
Over time, this and similar methods taught in Yoga can lead to large changes.
Doing this takes focused awareness and some effort. Isn't it worth some sweat to have a more peaceful mind?