The Power of Joy
I can see clearly now
For me, one of the best things about the empty nest is putting in the absolute least amount of effort with the whole dinner thing. Here’s my go to: I literally open a can of chick peas, put some olive oil on them, and call it a night. Course, I can only get away with this when my husband isn’t home! The other day on the phone with Kim, I was lamenting because my husband was out of town and it was 4:30 in the afternoon and I was starving.
“Open a can of chick peas,” she said, because she knows me so well.
“I can’t. I did that for lunch. I’ll make some hard boiled eggs.” I answered, figuring this would be falling under the absolute least amount of effort category as well.
Apparently, I come from a long line of dinner averse people. I remember my sister visiting shortly after her empty nest presented. She made some scrambled eggs and ate them right out of the pan with a fork. “No sense dirtying a plate,” she said. Where did we learn this? From my mom of course, who began to store beer in her oven once her kids were gone, because Germans like their beer room temperature, and she wasn’t using that oven anyway.
Now it wasn’t always this way. When my kids were home, I made dinner all the time! And not just one dinner. The kids liked different things so I would make them each something, and then another complete dinner for my husband and myself. I guess I burned myself out. Lucky for me now, my husband loves to cook and the more extravagant the better. But every day around 4:00, I still get that little rush of panic, “Dinner!” I wonder how many years it will take for that to go away.
It’s like every morning when I reach for my glasses and get that “oh no, where are they?” jolt until I remember I don’t need them anymore because of my eye surgery last month! It’s like every afternoon when I think, “I have to take my contacts out.” and I remember I’m not wearing any contacts. My brain simply hasn’t caught up with my eyesight yet. Every time I open my eyes, it feels like I’m in a 3-D movie. Everything is so vibrant and clear. Purples and greens aren’t the purples and greens I remember. They’re slightly different. I’m seeing better now than I ever saw, even corrected. But my brain can’t quite catch up still.
Our brains get stuck in the, “way we’ve always done things” patterns, don’t they? Sometimes those patterns are comforting, sure, but sometimes I think they limit us in the fullness of our experiences and in the difficulties of the past that live just under the surface.
Having completely new vision has taught me that my brain is going to think what it wants to, but I have the power to challenge it. My thinking is going to slip into places many times that aren’t in step with who I really am, and who I really want to be. That’s why we are so focused on mindset at The Wisdom Coalition. You really are only as good as your mindset allows you to become-be that at work, in your relationships with others and yourself, and in the capacity to embrace all the world has to offer.
I really can see clearly now in more ways than one. My life, my thinking, my mindset, are in my control to shape with positivity and joy if I can become aware of the roadblocks I throw up and the limitations I put on myself. This doesn’t mean I’ll be making a 5-course meal anytime soon, it just means I’m going to keep on eagle eye on my patterns and the behaviors that block my vision and my potential.
The Power of Why
Train your brain to be positive
It’s so empowering to recognize that we control our mindset (and not the other way around!) We give a lot of power to our life circumstances, and we oftentimes allow them to dictate our mindset. Yet it’s important to realize that we can maintain a positive mindset regardless of what’s happening in our daily lives or what has happened in our past.
Our brains create neural pathways based on our thinking patterns. And our innate negativity bias contributes to our pattern of negative thinking. However, science has proven that it’s possible to prune those neural pathways of negative thinking and create new ones. By shifting our mindset to be more positive, we can essentially train our brains to make positive thinking our new normal automatic response.
Here are some tips from experts on how to train your brain to be more positive:
- Hang out with positive people. Positivity is contagious. Make a conscious effort to spend time with people who reflect the values you want to adopt. And as your mindset starts to change, it will become easier to connect with more positive people.
- Challenge your thoughts. Weigh your thoughts against the evidence. Ask yourself “can I be certain that this thought is true?” If the answer is no, then explore why you believed the thought in the first place. By challenging your thoughts, your mindset will begin to evolve and will eventually positive thinking will become your default.
- Consume “positive media” and abstain from “bad news.” “Positive media” is anything that emphasizes the good in life and in others. By tuning into “bad news” we’re putting our mental energy into something that won’t help us or others. We can’t change the bad things happening at any given moment, but if we put our attention into things we can change, our lives will improve.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. A healthy body will support a healthy mind. What you eat, how you sleep, and your activity level impacts your mindset. You may want to start a food/mood journal to identify anything that could be sapping your energy.
- Express gratitude. Create an attitude of gratitude. The simple gesture of sending a thank you note can create a ripple effect by not only improving your mindset, but improving the mindset of the receiver too. Thank you notes will also strengthen your relationships and reinforce the power of positivity.
- Create a morning mindset routine. Start the day on a positive note. Meditation or mindful moments where you look for what’s going well in life is a great way to start the day. You can also create a mental list of the things you’re looking forward to throughout the day; this creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement for the day.
- Celebrate your daily “wins!”Bookend your day with positivity. You started with your morning mindset routine; now finish on a great note by making a mental list of the day’s wins. It doesn’t have to be monumental; the point of the exercise is to train your brain to focus on what’s strong rather than what’s wrong in your life. Going to sleep on a positive note will make it much easier to wake up feeling joyful.
Improving your life starts with improving your mindset. I hope you find that these steps are a great start.