Time for Change: Five Minutes A Day Will Change Your Life
The idea is happiness. It’s not complicated. But for some reason it’s the proverbial needle in the haystack, or was for me, until I made a very small but significant change in my life: the decision to THINK positive self-reinforcing thoughts everyday. Five minutes. Sit in a comfortable chair and visualize how you want to feel: what you want to feel like when you wake up in the morning, how you want to feel at work, at school, when you interact with your kids or friends or co-workers.
As an artist, I understood visualization as part of the creation process. If I couldn’t see the painting in my mind’s eye, I couldn’t create it on canvas. It had to be “there,” before mixing colors and applying paint. The thinking took days, weeks, even months of imagining compositions, colors, and outcomes before becoming a reality.
Why should life be any different? If you know the outcome you want to achieve, why not visualize it?
But is it as simple as painting? It is. (We just don’t think it is.) The problem, as I see it, isn’t the needle in the haystack, it’s all the hay covering its location. Remove the hay and you’ll find the needle. The hay covering your happiness is negative self-talk, limiting beliefs, it’s allowing yourself to remain in old patterns because you can’t imagine something new, something better…maybe you don’t believe you deserve better. It’s thinking that something huge has to happen before you can change, or that you don’t have time to focus on yourself now because so much is going on and anyway…it can’t be that easy to just make a decision and expect it to happen…change is hard…right?
Decisions are powerful. They have energy and carry their own weight in the world. The mind can compel the body to do things you wouldn’t think possible. In 2010 Psychology Today published an article about a man, Tom Boyle Jr., who lifted a car off of a boy stuck underneath with his bicycle. At the time, the world record for dead-lifting a barbell was 1,003 lbs. A Camaro weighs 3000 lbs. So what lifted that Camaro? Tom Boyle Jr.’s muscles? Not entirely. Science believes mind over matter made it possible, the brain reacting and signaling the body via chemicals: adrenaline, endocannabinoids and opioids (painkillers). The mind knew it was time to do something extraordinary and the body followed.
So if your brain can lift a car, what else can it do?
Actually, it can’t do ANYTHING, unless you visualize it first. The beauty of visualization is that it doesn’t require you to know “how.” You don’t have to know HOW you’re going to change, or what you’re going to DO to make a change or even WHAT you want to change. You only have to think about how you want to FEEL. Visualize yourself feeling content, buoyant, happy, healthy, (insert feeling you long for here). How do you want to feel?
Think about it.
Once you begin to imagine the life you’ve always wanted to live, the universe will start playing along. You want to learn French? You’ve had since you were a little girl. You love croissants and dream of visiting the Eiffel Tower but never thought it was possible, what with work and kids and life (negative self-talk). Begin to tell the universe today and I promise, in a matter of days you’ll discover ways to learn the language. You’ll either meet someone French or find a community class you didn’t know was offered or learn your new jogging partner lived in France and already speaks the language. No doubt you’ll find discount airfare flashing on the sidebar of your Yahoo page (including hotel accommodations), even the French baguettes at the grocery store will go on sale.
It’s weird, I’m telling you, weird in a really awesome random-but-not-so-random sort of way. I’ve had enough experiences now that I KNOW this works. Call it the “universe,” call it God (I do,) or call it a higher power, but something connects us all AND our HAPPINESS.
Today I was home with two sick kids. We don’t have a family doctor in Sweden and I’ve been nervous all morning thinking…what if they don’t get better…what if they get worse…then what? I’ve been to the doctor here and the waits are long and I’ve yet to get antibiotics when I needed them (see how this negative self-talk is building dread and worry?). Then suddenly I’m aware, I’m mindful of what I’m doing and I stop. Refocus. Breathe. Ahhh. Okay. It’s going to be fine. Kids are resilient. They’re going to get better. And if they don’t, I’ll find a doctor who will listen to my concerns and they’ll get medicine if they need it.
Not more than a few minutes later I was texting a friend, letting her know I wouldn’t make it to Church when she texts back, I’m home sick too and oh, by the way, I know a doctor who can see your kids and get you antibiotics if you need them.
Have a little faith. The universe is a good place to live in. Gravity, stars, green grass, oxygen…it’s all here for us to survive and thrive. Trust in a plan. We don’t have to know the “How.” We only need to visualize the life we want. There’s no limit. There’s enough for everyone. Five minutes a day. Think about what you have to be grateful for. Happiness exists and it doesn’t have to be hidden in a haystack. A little thread in that needle and imagine what we can create. Visualize it.
Many many thanks to Tanya DuVall for her lecture series “Find Your Path.” I credit her (and the universe) for bringing us together to teach me how to visualize my way toward a path of happiness. For more about Tanya at Find Your Path, click here.