Today I invite you to reflect on this quote by James Thurber:
What a challenge! Letting go of the obsession for what has already happened or is still to come. Switching off the auto-pilot, stopping for a moment, and really looking, becoming aware, being present in the here and now.
Right now, at this very moment, what is happening around me? And what is happening inside me? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? How am I experiencing this? And what does this all mean to me?
That´s the first step towards transformation: becoming aware.
Continuing with the art tour around my house, let me show you another phrase that´s decorating the walls, in this case in my daughters´ room. It was a present from their cousin Isabel:
“I´m not telling you it will be easy, I´m telling you it will be worth it.”
I love this phrase for two reasons: one, I really believe this is true in many situations, and two, I think the choice of words here is very very clever. Because even though in theory this is telling us that, whatever it is, is not going to be easy, given that our brains find it difficult to process the “not” bit, deep down what this is telling us is that it IS going to be easy… or at least, not that difficult.
The words that we use when speaking (and thinking) do matter, and they matter a lot. Saying that something is difficult is not the same as saying that it´s not easy: the latter is somehow a “lighter” expression than the former, and our brains find it easier to digest… In fact, the practice of using the word “not” this way is a little NLP trick that I´ll tell you more about some other time.
And for you, what is this thing that may not be easy, but will surely be worth it? You decide 🙂
Today I´d like to propose a habit that´s as simple as it is powerful, and that you´ll probably have seen recommended in multiple places: spending a few moments each day being thankful.
This can be done in many ways: in the morning or at night, in writing, out loud or simply thinking about it… but the idea is always the same: stopping for a moment to appreciate what we already have, the daily gifts that life sends to us, and to feel fortunate and abundant because of it.
I started putting this into practice with my daughters a few years ago, when I heard that it was truly beneficial for kids to think of three things for which to be grateful for each night, as it helped them to finish the day on a happy note, remembering pleasant things. We made “giving thanks” part of our bedtime routine back then, and nowadays we still keep it up.
In some ways it reminds me of what I used to do as a child, praying before going to sleep. Every now and then I would repeat a prayer by heart, but usually it was more like a few minutes of “talking to God”: I would tell Him about my day, thank Him for some things, ask Him for others… And now remembering it all, I realize that this little exercise of reflection at the end of the day used to help me a lot and make me feel good, regardless of who could be “on the other side” in that silent conversation going on inside my head.
So now I’m a big fan of having routines at the start and end of the day, of course including thankfulness. And in the last few months, also including a few minutes of handwriting, which is a really interesting process, and very different from just thinking the words, but I’ll tell you about that some other day 😊
What I did want to tell you today is that this week the girls and I have done an experiment, and added one more thing to our bedtime routine: in addition to the three things for which each of us is thankful, we’ve started to mention one thing for which we each feel proud that day. It may be for something big or small, it doesn’t matter; the important thing is to feel that joy for a moment again, that boost of self-esteem, and to let it encourage us to continue to face new challenges.
It is true that some days we’ve found it harder than others to find something to say there, and that it still doesn’t come out naturally, but I hope that little by little this new habit will get settled. For what better way to finish the day than appreciating what is around us, and also ourselves.
The first week of November here in Ireland could be known as “getting used to the darkness”, or at least that’s how it feels to me… Ireland is located somewhat North within the Northern hemisphere, and the difference in daylight between the summer months and the winter months, while not as radical as in the Nordic countries, is quite noticeable. Interestingly, Dublin is located at a similar latitude to Moscow’s, though luckily for us, its climate is a lot milder.
So now it´s that time of the year when the morning goes by in a flash, and by the time you realize, the sunlight is gone. And then at six in the evening it feels like it´s eleven at night, and you feel like going to bed...
I find that this impacts my mood considerably: I usually feel more tired, lazier and less motivated , and I don´t feel like getting out of the house... but then, because of not getting out of the house, I don´t get to recharge my batteries, and I end up feeling more tired, lazier and less motivated. It´s a vicious circle.
The good news is that knowing this from previous years, and knowing myself, I can come up with tricks to handle it a bit better. Like for example, looking for (or making up) reasons to leave the house at least once a day, preferably when there´s light outside. It´s my way to move around a little and change the scene, and while I´m at it, do "the photosynthesis", as my friend Juanjo would say 🙂
But even if it´s true that our energy levels tend to go down during the winter months, as our bodies instinctively get ready for hibernation (for at the end of the day, everything in life is a cycle), there may be more factors contributing to our daily tiredness, especially if it has become a regular thing. Let me leave you with this quote from Alexander Den Heijer that I came across a few days ago: