Thoughts are the foundation that help create our lives.

Much of our stress and emotional suffering comes from the way we think. Thoughts are the foundation that helps to create our lives. When there are a myriad of distorted, negative and unrealistic ones, the foundation cracks and we end up feeling crazed and humorless. Much of the way we think  is akin to a plane on autopilot. We forget that we can take the controls and navigate ourselves, but it is so much easier not to. Years of conditioning have created automatic responses. Think of some of the situations you’ve encountered. You’re in the parking lot looking for a space. You can’t seem to find one so you begin to assume that “something is going on”. You don’t know what it is, but why else would you be having so much trouble finding a spot. The more you ride around the more frustrated you get. Since you’ve convinced yourself you will probably not be able to find a space, you’re only focus is to continue to” not find one”. Even if there was one right in front of your eyes you wouldn’t see it. Let’s say you go to the movies and your intention is to make sure you find a seat with no one in front of you. Let’s face it, everyone is looking for the “right seat”.  A young couple with children sit in front of you and they all have big heads and lots of hair. You start thinking, ”Oh no!, not again!, This always happens to me. It never fails, I always get people in front of me with fat heads. You could move if there are other seats, but sometimes we become so trapped by our distortions that we can’t focus on looking for another seat. We would rather continue the drama by escalating the negativity. “Now my night is ruined”. “That’s it, I’m never going to the movies again”. We lose total perspective and make announcements that are geared to enhance our inability to make rational choices. The chances that you will never go to another movie until the day you die is ludicrous. I do less of the above, but every once in awhile I get into my “stinking thinking”, especially when I can’t find something. The other day I found one of the pair of shoes I wanted to wear. I was convinced someone took the other one, but who could that be? I don’t think my partner Kenny is interested in wearing one black high heel. But then who knows. I finally found it under the bed, but not until I drove myself nuts. Oh well, I’m not perfect!

 

Productivity increases when we take time out to refresh ourselves.

Over the years I have found that the best way for me to enter the day is to sit quietly with my coffee and simply be with the silence. This has not always been possible due to a career that has taken me on the road for over thirty years. Some of the individuals I traveled with loved to start their day by flicking on the TV so they could be informed about the latest happenings around the globe, or they would start chatting on the phone. After all they might be missing an announcement about the end of the world. I would try desperately not to have a rise in blood pressure, but it was very difficult.  I desperately needed to give myself time to get ready for the day which was often filled with lots of talking, book signing and more travel, all of which can be very stressful. Yes, I believe in different strokes for different folks, but the latest greatest research on how we can navigate our lives without feeling crazy by the end of the day, states that getting your brain in the right zone starts by how you greet the day. I know this can be very difficult when you have kids and they begin their “woodpecker drills” as soon as they open their eyes. But it is possible to set your alarm to go off a few minutes early so you can lie awake in bed and allow your thoughts to focus on how grateful you are for what you have and not what you need to do. In fact I believe this could be a great lesson to teach your children. Today’s kids are suffering from stress overload. If you allow yourself to be led by the incessant inner chatter you will leave your house feeling like a whirling dervish and your body will be in a vigilant state ready to slay a dragon. There was a time when we could put things off and get away with it. But with the advent of e-mail, texting and cell phones, you are pretty much at the mercy of ASAP. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can’t hide from the technology that demands immediacy. Your only defense is to learn to create good mental habits that allow your brain to have mini-vacations from the cacophony of daily life. The ultimate irony is that productivity increases when we take time out to refresh ourselves. Lily Tomlin said it best” The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat”.