I will always remember the fall of 2011 as a turning point in my life. I was finally on the mend after being sick for over two years. I should have been ecstatic, but instead, my life seemed lackluster. My business was doing well, but my work was unfulfilling. I was dating a man who seemed to care for me, but he was noncommittal. I was existing, but I wasn’t thriving. Plus, I continued to feel there was some sort of change coming, but I had no idea how to make it happen.
One morning, as I was walking my dog, I stopped for a moment to search the sky. I remember looking around the wooded area before laying my palm flat against a tree, and from that spot, with the bark rough against my hand, I prayed. “God, I need your help. I feel so stuck.” I imagined the prayer going up the tree, out through the branches and into the universe. Later that same afternoon, Karen Carey, a woman I barely knew at the time, offered the answer to that prayer. Through our work together, I found that to change my life for the better, I first needed to change my thoughts. I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but I came to understand that by changing my negative thoughts positive, I was literally able to use my mind so that it would create new behavior patterns. From there, everything changed.
The change started with weekly assignments. For me, one of the most powerful exercises was something incredibly simple. I was tasked to write the words, “I LOVE MY LIFE,” on a 3” x 5” card. I resisted a bit because at the time I didn’t love my life. I was feeling unfulfilled, stuck, and barely hopeful. But putting aside my reservations, I laid one card on my nightstand, hung another on the bathroom mirror, and one more on my computer screen. Every morning for the next year, before getting out of bed, I picked up the card and repeated, “I love my life.” It wasn’t long before I realized that I was beginning to take stock in the little things in my life. For the first time in a very long time, I noticed things like a spider creating a web on a sunflower, the incredible sunrises over my back deck, and the sweet sound of my cat snoring in the other room. Noting these small experiences added simple joys to each day. By focusing on those simple joys, the hard stuff seemed less difficult.
I Love My Life!
These days, every time I say, “I love my life!” which quite honestly is at least every day, I am reminded that by changing the way I perceived the small but important moments in my life, I changed my life for the better.
As a result of the shifts I continue to make in my life, I became fascinated with neuroscience, which deals with the structure and function of the nervous system and brain. I have studied books, graphs, charts, and watched countless videos and TED talks. The fascination became so passionate that I have just finished up my certification in Neuro Linguistics Programming (NLP). I’ll talk more about that in future blogs, but today, I am sharing a powerful video featuring Dr. Christine Leaf, a noted neuroscientist. I feel she clearly explains how our mind affects our brain and how our thoughts are real things that impact us every single day. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to give it a listen/watch. I’d love to know what you think.
Gratitude: A Powerful Practice
So, how do you begin (or continue) to change your life for the better? Practicing gratitude is a beautiful way to start. I know from experience that it can feel like an impossible task to find a bright spot when you’re struggling. But I learned that when your intention is focused on uncovering that small joy that is probably right there, the joy reveals itself. It will likely be something small such as the examples above, but your focus on discovery will make it possible. This exercise is about you training your mind to look for the possibility in every moment.
With that thought, I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and a happy beginning of the Christmas season. I’m so excited for it this year!