There are few things in life that makes less sense than saying bad things about yourself to yourself. As we go through life, it’s annoying enough when others do it, especially when they are off-point and off-base, but that’s out of your control. It’s the voices inside our heads that we can gain control over, and learn to redirect, and eventually tame.

We live in a world where difficulties arise, and challenges must be overcome. It’s a part of growing up, and it’s how we face the world as an adult. As kids, we have to learn how to stand up for ourselves and stand our ground. One of the first lessons children learn is that life isn’t always fair. As adults, we learn how to even the playing field of the social and business world we inhabit by being more effective communicators, and knowing how to better read people.

When we get stuck in patterns that hold us back, the root cause is often the absurd negative voices nattering in the background of our minds. The ones that seems to be stuck in a loop of repeating negative ideas that we’ve long outgrown. We know better, but time and distance hasn’t taken us far away enough to outrun habits learned long ago.

Along with living longer lives, we’re able to see how we have lived many lives within one body. As Shakespeare put it, we’ve played multiple parts in our lifetimes. And, for many, this includes having more than one life partner and career. Within all these parts of being human, what’s constant are the voices inside our heads, for better and for worse. The trick is to always aim for the better.

Over time, when we listen to the socially relevant optimistic voice in our head, we can talk ourselves into moving ahead in the world with a calmness and centeredness that feels natural. Buffeted sideways, and saturated by daily stresses, it has become necessary to find moments during the day when we stop and reflect. If we watch cable news shows, we’re bombarded with messages and images that stimulate the fear centers of our brains, but when we linger by a downtown fountain or sit under a tall tree in a park, we can catch our breath and no longer have to believe the world is ending next week.

So how do we feel more at peace with ourselves in the digital information-driven world? Our brains have evolved into highly sophisticated machines that quickly chunk together complex information. Pausing to listen, and moving beyond the voices rattling around inside our heads and attempting to tame them has become an established practice in the West, as it has been in the East for thousands of years. We each have the ability to give ourselves permission to think for ourselves, and take meaningful thoughtful reflection.

Most of us in the modern world are far from enlightened, but heading toward the smarter happier voices inside our heads is beginning to be proven as a way to live longer, stronger, and well, have more fun lives. The Internet and popular culture craves our attention, but in the end we get to decide how we use our brains, and the older we get the more our minds should be on our side, not still battling against us and undermining us.