The Power of Joy
Shape the Future You Want
When was the last time you laughed so hard you peed, or almost peed, your pants? Happened to me twice in the last couple of weeks. The first time, Kim and I were heading to the Fig magazine launch party in downtown Allentown. It was crazy windy and snowing sideways! Of course, we had to walk two blocks in the direction the snow was blowing to get to our event. We stepped out of the car and realized that unless we walked backward, we were going to be soaked when we arrived. So, I fashioned an umbrella in front of us like a shield to block the wet slosh from our faces. Well, we could barely hold the umbrella and we couldn’t see where we were going because it totally blocked our view. This struck me as completely hysterical and we had to keep ducking in doorways so I could manage my laughing fit and avoid actually peeing my pants!
The second time, my husband and I were walking the dogs early one quiet morning, and our big dog burped so loud, it startled me! We started laughing and it took me a few blocks to reign it in. I can remember doing this kind of laughing all the time when I was younger. One time, when my sister and I were kids, we laughed so hard, my Hawaiian Punch came out my nose.
In a few months, I’m heading into a BIG birthday and I find myself thinking a lot about what is and what isn’t, and what does and what doesn’t make Hawaiian Punch come out someone’s nose. Mostly, I’m thinking about how I got here, what has shaped me, and what continues to pull me in directions I don’t necessarily need to go anymore.
Good timing for me as our retreat next month is about rising above the undertow in your life. I’m trying to understand the assignment and put my head under the water to see what’s in my undertow, but I’m slightly terrified to do it. Last time I stuck my head in an undertow, I got hit with rocks and sand and salt water that made my contacts burn. It is not an easy process, but I think the end result will be fantastic. I need to open my eyes wide and see what’s holding me under, what’s slamming me to the ground, and what can pull me out of the slosh and the muck.
We’ve all got something lurking I think. I’ll admit I have a long, long list. There comes a time though to call it out, to look at it, and to reshape your relationship with it going forward. Why not? Whatever is haunting you, haven’t you given it enough time? Don’t you deserve to be honest with yourself, no matter how hard it is, so you can clearly shape the future you want? Living with intention, shaping your own mindset, it all leaves room for moments of pure joy. Moments that make you laugh so hard you almost pee your pants. We all need more of those!!
The Power of Why
Create an Upward Spiral
Most, if not all, of us understand the concept of a “downward spiral.” We’ve experienced it or observed it many times throughout our lives when it seems as though there’s one thing after another, dragging you further and further down like an undertow in the ocean.
But there’s good news; Dr. Barbara Fredrickson introduced the concept of our ability to self-generate an upward spiral. She explains that unlike a downward spiral which creates a decline in our thoughts, an upward spiral consists of “a continuous process of upward growth mobilized by self-reinforcing thoughts.”
So, basically, we can create an upward spiral by shifting our thoughts from negative to positive. Although this sounds simple, it’s not always easy. It takes hard work and conscious effort to shift our brain from negative to positive, but that hard work pays off in the end as our thoughts have a huge impact on many aspects of our life including our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Reframing is a wonderful tool to help us change the direction of our spiral from downward to upward.
Here are some simple steps experts offer to help you reframe negative thoughts:
Identify the issue and corresponding emotion. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What negative thought am I thinking?
- What is the problem that is causing this negative thought?
- How am I limiting myself with this thought?
Challenge it. Once you’ve identified the negative thought, it’s time to challenge it. Here are some further questions to ask yourself:
- Is this thought valuable?
- Is this idea based on fact backed by evidence or is it an assumption?
- Will this mindset help me to advance or is it holding me back?
When you start to challenge your way of thinking, you’ll realize, more often than not, that your negative thoughts are not serving you in any way.
Replace the negative with a positive. Once you’ve recognized your unproductive thought patterns, it’s easier to deploy new and improved logic. Ask yourself “how can I look at this differently?” It’s important to be realistic with your thoughts, but keep them positive and uplifting. Look for a silver lining or acknowledge growth opportunities provided by the issue.
Come up with a new solution. Now that you have a more positive frame of mind, think of a new solution to your problem. Decide on what you DO have and what you CAN accomplish to move you towards your preferred future.
Creating an upward spiral is a skill that takes practice, so don't give up if at first it seems too difficult. Keep reminding yourself that you're heading in the right direction to ultimately rise above the undertow in your life!