Monday, April 23, 2018

Transitions: Occupy Life One Step At A Time

I realize that the conversation I am embarking on works for many phases of life.  My next phase is the 60+ years, while your next phase could be your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or 50’s.  Or, it could be leaving your parent’s home and striking out on your own, becoming half of a couple, changing careers, parenthood, entering the single life again – any possibility you can think of.  What we are talking about is change.  And the change I want to talk about is how we think and what we can do to turn that around – lifting our mood, protecting ourselves against stress, improving our emotional resilience, and eliminating the boxes we have drawn around ourselves.  The change we are embarking on is to take steps to Occupy Life more fully, with wisdom, love happiness, and joy.

Have you noticed the extreme negativity that is swirling around us – economics, politics, unemployment, natural disasters – need I go on?  Do you dwell on these things, and worry about your future?  Do you ruminate over your past, regretting things you said or actions you took?  Do you wish you had made different choices in life?  Has this affected your thoughts and subsequently your outlook on life?  As you move through your day, are you creating lists of unsatisfactory situations?  Is the lens you look through grey and dismal?

Whoa!  Where is this coming from?  If you read my last blog, you know that my husband recently retired.  He was feeling a little lost with fifty plus extra hours on his hands that he didn’t know how to fill.  We worked hard on building a vision for him that he was happy with, and he has started implementing parts of that vision.  But, I have noticed that his normally cynical outlook on life has started to spiral out of proportion to our personal situation, and he is becoming increasingly negative.  So, because it makes me sad to see him this way – and it does have an effect on me – I have been laying out a coaching program for us to work through together.  I also know that we are not unique – there are thousands of others out there going through the same things (reference the previous paragraph).   And, since my mission in life is to inspire, encourage and support enlightened leadership – I thought perhaps I could serve you well by sharing this coaching program, and our experiences while embarking down this path.  Would you like to join us as you enter your next phase of life, whatever that may be – and become the person you were meant to be?  Click here now, or read on….

Scientists have been measuring and documenting for years the concept that our overall mindset is based largely on the thoughts that we think.  You can visit any bookstore in the world and find books and movies based upon this theory.  Some call it law, some call it principles, others will tell you it is a secret.  For those who are not into the metaphysical, this leads to the shaking of heads and rolling of eyes because they believe there is no scientific proof.  And, it is true that there is no formal schooling that teaches us to think about our thoughts and the beliefs that flow through our head – even though we think over 60,000 thoughts per day.  Most of us just let our thoughts flow and have no understanding of their importance – and we leave the “how” of how we think to chance.

So, the first thing I have talked to Karl about is how our thoughts send electrical signals throughout our brain.  He gets this.  He was an electrician on a mine sweeper in Vietnam, and he has always believed that our bodies have energy running through them.  He also agrees that these electrical signals eventually create pathways in our brain that they will ALWAYS travel, unless we deliberately create new pathways and let the old ones wither away.  As we continued talking, I suggested that the negative thoughts were creating negative pathways that affected his outlook on life – making him irritable, moody, obsessive, anxious and depressed.  And, difficult to live with.  At this point, we are well on our way to agreeing that if we consciously and mindfully replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, we are likely to have a more positive outlook on life.  I am celebrating this Ah-Ha moment for him today, and couldn’t wait to tell you about it.  Karl and I have developed another Retirement Goal – one grounded in our values and our intentions:  Occupy Life with happiness, love, wisdom and joy.  This should be fun, don’t you think?  Click here to join in the fun, or read on…

Our first tasks in meeting this goal are this:

  1. Realizing that our thoughts are real.  When we have a thought, chemicals are released and an electrical transmission takes place within the brain.  We then become aware of what we are thinking.  COMPLETE
  2. Recognizing how that thought makes our body feel.  When we have a negative thought – anger, unkind, sad, anxious – it makes our body feel bad.  Our muscles become tense, our hearts beat faster, our hands may begin to sweat, and we might even feel disoriented or dizzy.  Dr. Mark George, from the National Institute of Mental Health, showed a significant increase in deep limbic system activity in his studies of brain function when we are having sad or negative thoughts.  When we have a positive thought – love, kindness, happy, excited – it makes our body feel good.  Most of us relax, our hearts beat more slowly, and our breathing slows down.  Conclusion:  Negative thoughts affect our bodies negatively, and those thoughts could eventually build up into bigger problems.  It is a common conclusion in some health and alternative health circles that long-term negativity may create serious disease such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
  3. Challenge those negative thoughts.  Talk back to them.  Crush them one step at a time.  This is a gradual process, and we should not expect things to change dramatically overnight.  We have many thoughts daily based upon things we learned throughout our lives that may or may not be the truth.
    1. The first step in this process is to tell the truth, and to learn how to get to the truth.
    2. Secondly, to learn how to recognize the lie.
    3. Thirdly, discerning whether the thought is helping you or hurting you is important.
    4. Finally, address each thought that is not the truth and is not helping you.  Affirm the truth and keep affirming it until that mental pathway takes precedence to the negative.
  4. Be On Your Side. Be a good friend to yourself, wish yourself well and let your dreams matter.

If you would like to join us as we complete tasks to help us meet this goal, I have put in place a weekly practice program I’ve entitled Occupy Life.  You may play toward this goal along with us by clicking on the title.  The first 100 to sign up will get this program for free.

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