step seventeen

we can’t change the past, but we can be aware in the present.

whatever painful experiences shaped our way of thinking, it is never too late to revisit, and re-shape our thoughts today with mindfulness and gratitude.

imagine this scenario:

a person looks at another person.

this sounds simple, but it can be oh so complex if we assume anything other than innocence. person a is taking in their surroundings, scanning their environment and simply taking it all in. person b, however, has a much more layered experience. based on years of bullying and abuse since early childhood, the pure information of “person a is looking at me” is interpreted as “person a is giving me a funny look”, “the evil eye”, and even a potential threat “person a is going to attack me”.

before you dismiss this as an extreme example, check in with yourself – has this never happened to you? that you realized, you are assuming the worst, simply because it was that kind of a day?

a couple of years ago, my boyfriend-at-the-time and i were driving from toronto to niagara falls/on, when suddenly, the car started shaking uncontrollably – we had a flat tire. we were close to an off-ramp and parked on the muddy shoulder somewhere near hamilton. it was dark, a faint rain drizzling, and we had no tools to change the tire. while we were waiting for the canadian version of aaa, a small car pulled up beside us on the off-ramp, and a man got out and asked how he can help. a thought this was such a lovely ray of light, and when the man offered to run to tim hortons and get us some timbits, since he didn’t have a car jack to help us change the tire, i only declined because i had no clue what timbits were. the person i was with had a clearly different experience. he almost told the kind stranger to get lost, and later warned me not to take any of the baked goods since they could be poisoned.

“why would he first be so kind and stop for us, offering help, and then getting us some coffee and timbits, only to poison us!!??”  i was baffled.

“people are crazy here. you don’t know, this is toronto, everything can happen. Don’t ever accept anything from a stranger.”

to this day, i don’t know what caused my friend to react this way in this particular situation, but he clearly had a filter borne of previous, adverse experiences with which he judged everything happening around him today.   i am grateful for this stranger and for the hot coffee and donut holes (yes, he brought them anyway), because it ended up being a long night.

i also noticed that smiling is easier than being afraid, and that it feels absolutely amazing to accept a stranger’s kindness, because it made everyone feel good in the end. assuming innocence and giving the gift of accepting help (and timbits) shifts everyone’s energy upward.

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step five

have you noticed that some people, some news outlets, some shows, some businesses are barraging us with worst case scenarios?

if we can choose to look at any situation from more than one perspective, what makes us decide to see the worst, what makes us see the best?

both viewpoints can be useful. the worst case scenario can prompt us to prepare well, the best case scenario can show us opportunity.

today, be encouraged to take a closer look to see what else is there.

and if the day, or your screen, or your to do list, or the person next to you just look glum, try another filter. stand on your head, flip the script.

you might just be inspired.

step four

when you feel confused, check in with your heart.

where is it? don’t let your thoughts tell you. instead, breathe, and follow your breath down into your lungs. feel your heart beat, use your hand if you need to. feel into this beat. feel into this rhythm. what is it telling you?

keep your heart light. its only job is to beat. drop all the thoughts that make your heart heavy, even if only for a few hours. let your heart carry you, and hold it safe in return.

step three

when our routine is interrupted, we tend to react. many make the mistake and overreact.  many feel an overwhelming fear that this is “the end” of life. but it is only the end of life as we know it. everything flows.

don’t allow fear to cloud your vision.

be still. feel your roots. breathe in deeply and exhale fully. three times.

assess the situation. what is really there? what do you have, what do you need? take a moment to write it down.

be careful with the answer to the last question.

what do you really need?  are you sure?

then, draw lines between what you have and what you need. re-arrange the list if you have to.

the needs that are not met? circle the most important one. take one small step to take you there.

done. simple.

 

step two

you decide each day how you are going to show up.

you can spend energy on complaining. you can spend energy on being fearful.

you can awful-ize.

you can look for opportunities.

you can look for gifts.

what makes you happier?

what makes you feel whole right this moment?

what gives you strength?

do that.

step one

it really isn’t that difficult.

start today.

one small step.

write it down.

“i choose to happify my first thoughts as i wake up.

i write down one good thing i want for myself.

i write one thing i am grateful for today.

i think about it before i go to sleep, i lay it next to my bed, i look at it in the morning.”

do it one day.

then two more.

shoot for a week.

tell me how it changed your day.