This morning I had one of those magic moments when I remembered all I have to do today – is live today. Being reminded, filled me with a sense of peace.
I had been thinking about friends and family dealing with a variety of major issues; within a minute that morphed into thinking about other negative situations swirling around. Seconds later, crisis-level, cinematic images were streaming through my mind. I quickly became overwhelmed trying to figure out how I could help.
My mental panic lasted only a few seconds when I realized that I had created my panic – none of the scenes from my vivid, split-second, personal blockbuster of fear were real – I had made them up!
Instead of berating myself for thinking negatively – a pastime I employed way too often in the past – I knew it was time to switch gears. I fast-forwared to a beach scene in my mind and within seconds I was focused on the surf and how good the sand felt beneath my feet. I remembered standing in the water and thinking I could actually feel the earth move under my feet. (Cue Carol King.)
While reliving the beach scene, I relaxed and realized I only had to live today – I did not need to predict or solve anything. And, for me, the best way to be in tune with today was to do things I valued and enjoyed – exercise, meditation, talking to my husband, calling friends, reading or listening to something interesting or humorous, eating healthy and sipping coffee with frothy milk while I enjoyed my two-squares-day of rich, delicious dark chocolate. I immediately felt relaxed and renewed. Mental switch flipped.
My thoughts led me to a feeling of serenity that has not left me. Live today. The rest would take care of itself. Scary to think that way during tough times, it takes trust and courage, but I know it to be true.
Life has a way of working out, and since I truly have no control over anything other than my moment to moment choices, I have learned to trust those. Just like the surf, paths appear and fade. Friends, lovers, jobs, good health, and dreams ebb and flow.
I have also learned that solutions and creative options appear more readily when I am at ease and my emotional doors are wide open and my mental window curtains are pushed aside. And, since everything happens in its own time, I am much happier when I center my energy on my immediate choices and actions, rather than on any highly-charged disaster reels I create in my mind.
Serenity is one of our Top 10 Positive Emotions,” according to Barbara L. Fredrickson, Ph.D. In her research and her books Fredrickson shares that developing positive emotions in our lives undoes the lingering effects of negative emotions and helps us build resilience.
I know firsthand growing positive emotions works; my resiliency is what helped me realize and reroute my negative state of mind in a matter of minutes, and I am still reaping the benefits of the feelings of serenity that replaced it. (Our positive emotions can also increase our productivity; I don’t think I would be writing this post without them.)
Here’s to growing positive emotions, resetting our brains, and trusting ourselves to be strong enough during stressful times to simply live today.
Have a great Saturday.