Have you ever reflected on how important your thoughts and feelings are? We are thinking and feeling all the time, and so often we treat these feelings and thoughts as if they are the Whole Truth. In fact, our thoughts and feelings change all the time, are influenced by so many factors, and more crucially, they influence the way we experience the world and the decisions we make. Rather than being the Whole Truth they are more like a lens we live our lives through. We create our experiences of life by our thinking and feeling patterns. How we perceive the things we encounter in life is shaped by what we believe about ourselves and about the world. Let me share some of my own experiences…
I start my day with the thought that I am worthy of self-care. As a result, I start my day sitting in my garden eating my breakfast. I am present to the feel of the breeze on my skin, the sounds of the birds singing, cars driving past and children chattering, and the taste and texture of my food, all of it connecting me with my inner and outer environment. From this place, I can access my immense gratitude for the many blessings in my life – for having a garden, for my health, for the luxury of time to sit and be. What a way to set myself up for the day! When I encounter my day from a rested, embodied, grateful, curious, present place, I am resilient, able to face what the day brings. I am not surviving, I am thriving. When I am thriving, the world seems full of opportunity and adventure. My curiosity and openness facilitates a noticing of the beautiful details of life – the smell of the lavender at the front my house as I walk through my front door, the sound of the bees buzzing around the flowers, the wag of a dog’s tail as it is taken for a walk, seen as I drive past on my way to the supermarket.
It works both ways. When I am tired, stressed or ill, the things I think and feel reflect this. The world seems an anxiety-provoking place. I feel unsafe, unrooted and fragile, buffeted by the challenges that life brings. My thoughts and actions become centred around keeping me safe. I say no to things that are outside of my comfort zone. I say yes to things that I don’t want to do or that will drain my energy, simply to avoid conflict. I do things that enable me to numb out – eating rubbish, overworking, watching a lot of TV. I am not present to the moment. I am disembodied and absent.
How can one person experience life in such different ways? What is the difference between operating from a fearful, fragile space and an abundant, hopeful space?
I have learnt that for me, it is a question of capacity… and that doesn’t happen on its own. I need enough sleep, a good diet, exercise, downtime, a healthy environment – things that can feel impossible when I am struggling. In reality, it only takes one small action to make a difference. By going to bed earlier I get enough sleep and wake more rested. I can then think more clearly. This clarity enables me to see the value in starting my day right, regardless of how much there is to do. If I can start my day with some gentle stretching, eating my breakfast in the garden and writing in my journal, I’m already on a more abundant path. Conversely, if I drag myself from bed to study and shovel my breakfast in my mouth while checking my emails, barely aware of the act of eating because I am caught in anxious thoughts about Getting Stuff Done, I am already on a less healthy path. Two different starts, leading to two very different experiences of the same day. Wow – turns out, I really can use my thoughts and actions as tools to shape my experiences.
What about you? Everyone’s circumstances are different, and finding the right way to start your day will be unique to you. What small action could you take to shift your trajectory, even by a few degrees? How different might your day look? Don’t just dream it, take those small actions and try it out. And if you do? I’d love to hear how you got on.