Wow, seems like 2011 is getting a bad rap. When I scroll down through Facebook there are a lot of status updates giving the middle finger to last year. I feel funny about this. It feels a little like giving the finger to a rainbow, or clouds, or your kindergarten teacher - a little profane. I guess I think of Time as being part of the metaphysical, magical, universe world, like God or something. I guess some people flip off God, but just as many others fear he'll smite them down for such an act, so that's not a good example. I don't know what it is, it just seems to me that we shouldn't piss off things that are bigger than us, or maybe it's more that I'm wary of being anything other than grateful for the armload of "stuff" we are handed.
Even though I am as superstitious as the next guy, and even find myself excited about the new year because I like the numbers that make it up, I know that numbers on a calendar do not make a life good, bad, better or worse. I actually really loved 2011 and I know for sure why it turned out well. It was the very first year that I got serious about purposely thinking good thoughts.
We all think we are thinking positively, but then we get on the phone with our sister and describe the big pile of dog shit we stepped in this morning. We imagine that we are maintaining a positive outlook in our life, and then make a mental list of all the things that are not working for us the first opportunity that pops up. What I am getting at is that every moment counts, so even if you manage to have a good morning full of rosy thoughts and feelings but then fall into a tail spin once you get to work and stoke your inner crabby for the rest of the day, the overall total of positivity drops.
My life in 2011 was wonderful because I stayed on top of things emotionally. If I started to feel a little funky I turned my mind toward thoughts that felt better. Sometimes I had to literally crank my face away from the irritating or sad thoughts, they have an incredible nostalgic and dramatic draw. Sometimes I wanted to languish in my lower feelings, moan to my friends, pine or regret or wallow. And when I felt justified in having those feelings it was incredibly hard to emotionally walk away. But I had a higher goal for myself. I wanted to feel better and thus make a better life. So I couldn't afford to "go there" no matter how justified. And I had to do this every time.
The most difficult diet of my life. For sure.
But it got easier. At first I needed a mental image handy at all times so that I could turn from the thoughts that were luring me away and move toward thoughts that felt better. Like having an emergency apple in the car so that you don't swing by the gas station and grab a candy bar when hungry, I had a go-to image to fall into. At first there was a meadow involved and a white dress and dogs. Later there was a horse that I mentally stroked. Now it's automatic. Feeling good feels more normal than feeling bad. I followed this simple formula:
Tell the story I want.
Look for a happier thought.
Be happy and the rest of what I want will come.
I first wrote about this in this post, and have been talking about it ever since because the change has been profound. And okay, I am the first to admit that I am blessed. I get a lot of help from my family and friends. But here's the thing - many many people are as fortunate as I am yet manage to completely mess that up with ungratefulness, negativity, and stories of victim-hood. Many. So a "good life" is not guaranteed by being dealt a fair hand, it is instead built and maintained, thought by thought.
Anyway, you've heard this all before. I just wanted to say it again before 2011 took anymore blame for anyone else's thoughts, feelings, and choices. The truth is so much better than that! Just by pondering something warm and fuzzy instead of something dark and irritating we can bit by bit put together the exact life we want. No matter what the calender says.