One of two things happens. Either we’ve already failed at our traditional New Year’s resolutions and we’re happy to restart, or we’re a person who’s more rigid about our commitments and so it feels weird to start this coming Monday instead of on the 1st. But then, that was secretly my first lesson to you….
Who cares where the planet is in relation to the sun when you decide to make changes? Why is the 1st important? Or why target 365 days? You’re not a planet, you’re a person. Your life happens in moments and you can enact health in any moment of any day.
Someone you love may be dying and yet you can still feel grateful that their doctor is so good. So remember: we don’t succeed or fail all at once. Each moment is its own opportunity. Every new moment is a restart in the world of mental health.
I want to state that very clearly once more to make sure you’re going into this in a healthy, productive way: the people who are happier, more productive and more connected than you all still have death, disease, accidents, heartbreak, betrayals and trouble to deal with. Seriously. You don’t improve your life by making those things go away.
You need to take today and really dispel the idea that you can truly “succeed.” If a champion athlete hasn’t won their first championship yet, are they succeeding or failing at the gym? Or, if they never won a championship but they met their partner at an athletic event, was that succeeding or failing? Did you really want the trophy more than the spouse?
Also, anticipate that it would be very weird if you won 100% of the time. That would be so boring you wouldn’t even do that. Otherwise, why aren’t all of your games against people you know you could beat? Without challenge life has no flavour. We’re not here just to burn calories. We’re here to live, and that means overcoming challenges and growing in capability as a result.
We should anticipate days where we’ll struggle. Accept them as valid stones to step on as we cross the water. It’s true, they’re slipperier and more likely to cause us to go in, but there’s also no way to move around the ‘lake of life’ without stepping on some.
We do get better at balancing as we go. Again, everyone deals with slippery stones, even those people whose lives we think are fantastic. They just don’t use their slippery stones as an excuse for a bunch of fearful thinking. That just makes things worse.
So what do you do with the fearful thinking? If it’s fearful, generally our words are running away with our psyche in our head. We need to employ some detachment. We need to remember that our thoughts will lead to brain chemistry that will match those thoughts. The trick is, those reactions also appear to you to match the situation, so that’s where we can end confused.
Our brain chemistry and our emotional reaction are not coming from ‘the world,’ and they are not happening to ‘us.’ (Read that again.) Our emotions are from our thinking and they are generated by us.
Most people leap to thinking that should mean that if they’re our thoughts that we should be able to change them whenever we want. Except those thoughts aren’t ‘ours’ in the way we currently believe they are, but that’s too much to explain now. You’ll just understand that when you’re thinking dies down enough so don’t worry about it. That will happen naturally.
So here’s your assignment: all you need to do today is to find two or three short biographies of people you admire; people you consider successful. And then read through them and note how nicely all of the really hard, painful parts are written about.
“After overcoming that challenge so-and-so poured their heart into their new album…” Oh wait, you mean that rock star had to go through the pain of a divorce to write those great songs? Find their pain. Make them more like you, because you’re more like them than you realize.
Do it. Find the bios. Watch for the inevitable suffering. Read them on Wikipedia or in an article. Just take some down time that you would have used to shop or surf the internet and instead do this and start your route to better health.
Do the work to dispel the quiet lie you’ve always told yourself. The people we think we’d like to be don’t actually have better lives than us. But the healthiest among us do have more control over our thinking. That is a do-able task for all of us, so relax until Monday. We’ll start there and we’ll get you where you’re going one moment at a time. Have a wonderful weekend.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.