Less Worry, More Wonder

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
— Corrie ten Boom

A long time ago I had the thought: what would my life look like if I didn’t worry at all? How amazing would that be? I thought about how free I would feel, how easy, how peaceful. I wanted to write a blog post about it, to try to inspire myself and others to do our best to live that way, without worrying…and then of course, life got busy. It was like my head, which had peeked above the clouds for a second and glimpsed another way, sank back down into the murk of my usual stress level, and it just felt hypocritical to write about worrying less when I was actually worrying every day. So I tabled the idea and continued on.

Then one morning last week, I was feeling OK. Despite it being a busy few weeks, everything on the near horizon was under control. And yet, I realized, my mind was actively scanning the future for possible problems and I was beginning to feel stressed. I got PISSED. Here I was feeling fine, with no real reason to be anxious, and yet my mind was trying to find one??

As I considered this, I realized that I do it all the time. It occurred to me that some part of me must think it’s my job to worry constantly. It seems to be my default setting, even after all these years of trying to be more peaceful and positive-minded.

Here’s what happens: I’m always thinking ahead to make sure that I’m prepared for whatever is coming up. I make notes and write stuff on my calendar and figure out what I need to do when, etc. That is fine and actually necessary to make sure our lives run smoothly. And if I stopped there, it would just be a positive, helpful behavior.

But I don’t. Once I’ve made sure that everything in the immediate future is considered and planned for, instead of relaxing and focusing on the present, I keep going. I look further and further ahead to responsibilities down the road, and to potential conflicts and possible problems.

And then, when I think about all of that on top of what is currently going on, I feel overwhelmed and anxious—especially since most of what I’m worrying over is either something I can’t do anything about right now or something that might not even happen. I get either extremely jittery or super tired—but either way I want to run away! Which is not exactly helpful or conducive to managing my current responsibilities, and it feels awful.

So after I got some clarity on this pattern the other morning, I sat down to think about why it might be so. Why would I feel like my job is to constantly think ahead and worry about the future? And why does it feel like if I don’t do this, something terrible will happen? Like I’m shirking my duty?

I thought about my son, who just started high school, and how we’re teaching him to plan ahead so that he gets all his schoolwork done on time. It’s not something that comes naturally to him, and I remembered that it didn’t come naturally to me either when I was his age. In fact, I remembered, I would actually get in trouble for not planning ahead or not thinking about the consequences of my actions, and would often get punished. Boom! Lightbulb moment! When I was younger, if I didn’t think ahead, something terrible WOULD happen! I would get punished! I got the message that I had to always be thinking ahead—and so like any good and obedient girl, that is what I do. Wow.

Once I realized that, I realized I had the power to start retraining myself, and that “less worry, more wonder” might actually be possible for me. I first saw that phrase about five years ago on life coach Carla Robertson’s website and it really appealed to me.  It has been part of my mission on this “joy detective” journey—to feel more open to wonder, and less constrained by worry. Now I think I might have made a breakthrough in how to do that.

Of course I still need to plan ahead, and will always do that—you can’t be a successful adult without that ability. But the key is in stopping myself from going further. Once I am sure that I have thought through what’s important for now, I can rest. It is no longer my job to constantly scan the horizon for potential problems. There is a LOT of trust involved in this, and it’s something I’m going to have to practice over and over. But so far here is what I do:

 I realize I’m worrying about something unnecessarily.  (That’s actually a big first step, to become aware of what I’m doing.) Then I tell my mind that it’s not my job to think about that right now, and that in fact, worrying about the future is harmful to me in the present.

I make a conscious decision to let the worry go, and trust that it will be OK. I’ve even got a mantra to repeat: “I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I trust that it will all work out for the best.” Some people recommend writing down whatever you are worrying about, putting it in a special box or jar, and giving it over to God or the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in. I’ve done this before with big issues that I had no control over, and it really does help.

Anxiety and fear are so draining. If I can relax about the future, and trust that everything will in fact work out (without my needing to obsess over it constantly), it will free up so much energy! And it will give me an expansive feeling of peace and ease, which is much more conducive to everyday happiness.

So that’s my goal: to go through this process whenever I find myself worrying, and return my thoughts to the present. My hope is that the process will get easier over time, and I will in fact have less worry, which will make room for more wonder. I’ll let you know how it goes! And if you have any tips for worrying less, I’d love to hear them!

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Cultivating a Positive State of Being

As I’ve mentioned before, I receive weekly “Wellness Wednesday” emails from master healer Sonia Sommer, and they’re always full of inspiring insights and practical tools. I wanted to share one of her most recent articles with you because this practice is so easy and simple, yet so potentially powerful. Here it is:

Form Is Content

by Sonia Sommer

I first heard the concept in a parenting book. Kids are sponges for their environment. Not so much the physical things in it, but more importantly, the emotional state of the people around them. The emotional environment.

The idea was, as long as you create a calm, loving state within yourself, what you say and do will be the optimum environment for your child to learn and thrive.

On the flip side, negative states such as anxiousness or anger will send your child into fear and protection mode, which stunts growth and learning, amongst other things.

The form: your state of being, is the content delivered in your life.

Here's the thing, this is true for all of us, all the time.

The primary thing to cultivate is your state of being. This pretty much takes care of everything! Wait that's a bold statement....but, yeah I'm sticking with it.

When you're in an optimal state such as gratitude or the less tangible but uber powerful love, you'll naturally say, do and create optimal things. 

And ... get this ...

So will the people around you. That's nice isn't it? Sustained higher states of being always entrain lower states upwards. (That one I learned in Rolfing school decades ago).

You are effectively, the transmitter and receiver of the content of your life. You create and receive according to your internal state of being. 

This is a huge relief and super awesome I reckon. Because it's much easier to just go internal and cultivate your state than it is to try to figure out exactly what to do in every moment. Especially when shit's hitting the fan, other people are chucking a tantrum or things just aren't flowing.

I invite you to try this experiment today and see what happens

·         First thing in the morning, sit quietly and bring to mind a time when you gave or received love. Think of your kids, parents, pet, good mates, whatever works for you. 

·         Cultivate this state of love with all your senses. What does it feel like in your body, what are the words, sights, smells. Really bathe yourself in this sea of love.

·         Hang here with great focus for 2 - 3 minutes (longer and your mind starts wandering).

·         Enjoy your day.

That's it! 

If you want to boost things, you can set a timer to go off 3 times during the day and repeat the process. I begin all meditations with this process and try to stay with it for the entire time. If you bump into something or someone a bit challenging during the day, go straight to your form. You'll access the full bandwidth of optimal outcomes.

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What do you think? Sounds so simple, but I can see how it has the potential to change everything. Try it and let me know how it goes!

I’ll be taking some family vacation time in July, so the blog will be on break until the beginning of August. See you then!

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Make 2019 the Best Year Yet

I can’t believe it’s already December! The holiday merry-go-round is spinning in full force here, so I’m going to take a break from posting for the rest of the month. But first, I want to share with you an article I recently wrote for Hers Magazine titled “Do’s and Don’ts to Make 2019 Incredible.” If you can, try some of these ideas this month. Taking a few moments for ourselves each day can really help keep us calm and centered amidst all the hustle and bustle

I hope you have a happy, magical holiday filled with love and light. See you next year!

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The morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, and each morning is an opportunity for a fresh start. It’s like pressing the reset button—and you get that chance every twenty-four hours.

A morning ritual enables you to make the most of every day. Here are some “do’s and don’ts” that will help you master your mornings and steer your life with purpose toward a clear vision of what you want.

Don’t put yourself last. This is especially important for women. We tend to get up and immediately start handling external obligations, whether it’s for family or work. If we take a moment to care for ourselves first, we fill our own well and have more to give.

A morning ritual is one of the highest forms of self-care. We’re literally putting ourselves first. When we do this each morning, it helps train us to put ourselves first throughout our life. This is not selfish, it’s necessary. If we keep putting others’ needs ahead of our own, never taking the time to replenish our reserves, we will eventually run out. A morning ritual refuels us every day, keeping our life running smoothly.

“Having a morning ritual, I believe, is the key to stepping up to the starting line of a new adventure. Every day is full of possibility. [Mine] gives me the ability to meet the day’s activities in the best possible way.”—Char Cooper, business owner and marathon runner

Don’t use an alarm clock. Try training yourself to wake up without one; this allows your body’s circadian rhythm to wake you up when you’re naturally ready so you feel alert instead of groggy (as can happen when your alarm goes off during deep sleep). In order for this to be possible, you need to get enough sleep; make sure you go to bed early enough the night before.

If you want to keep using an alarm, don’t hit the snooze button—it only makes you sluggish. And once you’re awake, don’t get up immediately. First, take a few deep, slow breaths; doing this will calm and center you.

Don’t check social media or email first thing. Feed your mind with positive input and determine your priorities for the day first, instead of distracting yourself or getting waylaid by others’ needs.

“If I wake up and look at the phone right away, my whole day is wrecked. I have to meditate first. Meditation needs to happen before anything else; that’s my time.”—Jeanne Geier Lewis, start-up entrepreneur and co-founder of Capsure and Creativebug

Don't multitask.

It’s tempting on busy mornings to juggle three things at once, but resist. It might feel like you're getting more done, but studies show that we’re less efficient when we multitask, and it will scatter your energy. Strengthen your ability to focus by putting your full attention on each activity in turn. This also makes your morning feel much more peaceful, and you can carry that feeling of peace with you throughout your day.

Do go outside.

Getting sunlight first thing makes you more alert and spurs production of the mood-booster serotonin; it also helps regulate your sleep cycles. Take your morning coffee or tea out with you and enjoy.

Do what makes you happy and fills you up.

Ask yourself, “What do I need today?” Not “What do I have to do” or “What do others want me to do?” but “What do I need to do for me?” Whatever works for you is right for you.

Do try something creative.

Starting the day by “playing” may seem like slacking off, but it can actually boost your productivity. Ideas include meditative drawing, painting, knitting, writing, and singing. Or, have a short dance party—it’s more fun than exercising, easy to fit into a busy morning, and will rev up your energy while putting you in a good mood.

Do take the time to listen to your inner voice.

Overall, I think the most vital thing is taking quiet time for yourself. That’s when you hear your own voice and find your own truth.”—Tonya Lewis Lee, women’s wellness advocate, entrepreneur, filmmaker, and author

Women often have difficulty achieving the lives of our dreams. In fact, we often have difficulty even knowing what our dreams are. Centering ourselves with a morning ritual helps us access that inner knowing. By connecting to our core self, the one who is often drowned out by the world, we are able to know ourselves better and see clearly what it is that we want, then map out how to achieve it. And when you create the space for inspiration to come to you, you can realize solutions to problems and receive insights that will make life easier.

You don’t need to meditate for an hour—simply sitting in silence for a few minutes can be transformational. Journaling is also an excellent way to get in touch with yourself. If you find it difficult to be still, try a moving meditation with walking, Qi Gong, or yoga.

Creating a morning ritual is about taking charge of your day from the very beginning, gently, with purpose. When you start the day on your own terms, you are better prepared to live your life that way. You are mindful and calm. You can see more clearly the path that you genuinely desire to take—the path that leads to your happiest, most fulfilled life.

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