What I give attention to grows and grows and grows. Ten things to shift your perspective.

This has been a really hard lesson for me to learn and I’m not there yet. What I give attention to grows. And therefore, I’m in control of my life.

Whether you believe in a power of anything, attraction or otherwise, it seems to hold true in my life. Giving my attention to the bad stuff in my life only makes it seem worse  and conversely when I put on the rose colored glasses and focus on the good in my life the good grows and grows and grows.

Now, I come from a family of worriers and people who live in their fear. This has been a really hard one for me to reverse, but I’m working on it. Every day I work on it. And on most days I do okay, but on some days I stumble. And that’s okay.

I won’t pretend that sometimes I don’t feel ridiculous, cause I do. Some of these things I started off thinking Really? Really? THIS is going to change my life? The thing I try to remember is that no one thing is going to change anything overnight. It’s a process. Today I look for the progress in my life, not necessarily the outcome. Because it’s about the journey, not about the destination. All my lessons come from the trip.

So here are some of the things I do. Some of them mentors and teachers have insisted I do and some of them I’ve learned from practice, habit and luck.

Here are 10 things you can do to shift your perspective and change your life

1. Watch What You Say –     This is one of the hardest ones for me, but perhaps the most imortant.  It’s really more about what I think, but it’s easier for me to focus on what comes out of my mouth rather than what rolls around in my head. But this one is really simple. If I complain or bitch about the stuff in my life-people, situations, places-that I don’t like or are causing me unease then the discomfort is all I feel. If I talk about the good things that are happening with people, places or situations then I get that great feeling that things are working out and I can build on that feeling to have a happy life.  I’m not saying never complain again, but we complain a lot and getting out of the habit would make our lives so much better. So, today try not to complain. Everytime you want to bitch about something see if you can say something good. If it takes a lot of effort this is probably an area to focus on. In a month you’ll be living a different life, one full of positive happenings and people.

2. Walk-or get some sort of similar exercise daily-  This is fairly straight forward. As many of you know I’ve been walking a lot lately and extolling the virtues. Here’s my experience. When I walk my mind gets quiet, my muscles relax and I’m more present in my body. This is big for me because for a long time the only place I found that was on the mat. I’ve been a walker for years, but I often did it in groups or with my headphones on. And those are all some good ways to get some exercise, but now I purposely walk solo. I’m not distracted, I’m putting one foot in front of the other and that’s a powerful metaphor for where I am in life today. 

3. Meditate- It doesn’t matter when or how you do it. Do it for twenty minutes, do it for two. It’s a powerful way of changing your life. Clearing your head is more than just getting quiet so you can focus. Meditation can heal, it can change your brain chemistry, it can put you in a different place. The saying is that when you pray you talk to God, when you meditate God talks to you. Just sit quietly for 5 minutes every morning for the next week. Close your eyes and listen to your breath. Sit outside and be still. Watch the flowers in your garden, soften your eyes and just breath. Go online and listen to a guided meditation. If you’re in Lawrence join us for Inner Focus Meditation with Beth Murphy. It’s free and it’s a great practice.

4. Write A Gratitude List- Okay, this is one of the ones that I thought was ridiculous, but I swear by it. I often give it as homework to my private clients. Every day for a week start the day by writing 5 things you’re grateful for in your journal. It can just be a list and it can be silly. You can be grateful for your toes, your house, your cat, your new toothbrush. It doesn’t matter. Just write five things. But if you’re like me and you want change fast, focus more on the things that make your life worth living. You can repeat items on the list. Again, if this is hard you’ve probably identified an area of your life that needs some work.

5. Practice yoga or another mind, body, spirit centered practice like Tai Chi- Obviously this is a no brainer for me, but I can’t tell you how much yoga has changed my life. If nothing else for the time I’m on the mat I’m getting to know me. I know my knees, my back, my inner arm, my heart, my brain and my belly. Whenever I practice I get a chance to slide down deep in my body. And-well, it feels good. No matter how busy I am or what I’ve got going on in my life I am ALWAYS happier when I get off the mat.  So look up QiGong, Tai Chi or Yoga in your area. Find someone who leads a choir who is mindful of the mind, body, spirit connection. Attend a class, commit to the practice. When you live your life from that centered, mindful place your life will be better. You be capable of making choices rather than reacting to circumstances. You will be able to just Breathe.

6. Write A Wish List- This is another one that was hard for me, but is sooo simple. Write a list of 50 things you want in your life. Just write, don’t think. If by 10 you’re out of things, start getting creative. Maybe you want to take a trip around the world-write it down. Maybe you want a house in the Bahamas-write it down. Maybe you want a just one quiet Sunday morning every month-write it down. It doesn’t have to be attainable, it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Write it down  and put it away for a few days. After three days or so revisit it. See if there’s anything that pops up as something you REALLY want that you didn’t know you REALLY wanted. Put a star next to the things that you really want. Keep pulling the list out for a few weeks, read it, add to it, don’t worry about it. After a few weeks identify the top ten things you want. Write a list of those things. Pin that list to your fridge, mirror, reading lamp. Put it somewhere you can see it every day, preferably more than once a day. Now, I’m not promising you that things will start to happen. I wouldn’t be surprised it they do, though. I am suggesting by seeing this list every day, several times a day, you are going to get really clear about what’s important in your life. You’re going to start seeing yourself laying on white cotton sheets under a big lazy ceiling fan with an incredibly blue ocean outside your window in your house in the Bahamas. And you’re going to start thinking about that more and more and maybe you’ll talk about it and maybe you’ll research it and maybe you’ll realize that if you got three other families involved you could indeed have that little slice of heaven pretty easily. And maybe you’ll make it happen and you’ll have the life you always wanted. Maybe, but until you write it down, you’ll never know.

6. Do One Thing Daily That Creates The Life You Want- Okay, I’ll be honest, this was another one that I thought was silly. One thing wasn’t going to change my life. One thing didn’t really matter in the unsurmountable mountain of mess that I felt I’d created. One thing! Ha! I had two million things and each of them was going to take more than one day to work on. I was so sure that this idea was crazy that I wasn’t even starting. I was just sitting around depleted and miserable.

Somehow, I got so tired and exhausted and sick of the pain of being me that I decided to try one thing. It happens that way a lot. We have to roll around in our own muck to make some changes.

So today I do one thing. One thing every day. Some days it’s writing because I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. It’s the thing that helps me feel me, helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something and helps me add up the pages that might lead to something like a book one day. That’s an awesome one thing.

Some days it’s getting on the mat to practice so I can be a better teacher. Some days it’s working on my gratitude list so I can see, on paper, what a great life I have cause I forget a lot. It’s just one tiny thing sometimes, but one thing grows and builds. So at the end of the week I’ve done seven things that give me a great life and at the end of a month I’ve got 30 things. And you can not do 30 things to create the life you want without something adding up and coming to fruition. So if your dream is to go back to school today your one thing is to pick up the phone/get on the computer/visit the admissions office. Tomorrow do the next thing.

8. Surround Yourself With Wonderful People- Now this one, I wanted. I wanted fabulous friends and confidants, but I had a big block. Me. I was sure that none of the fabulous people wanted to know my name let alone be around me for any length of time. But here’s what happened. I met a person or became aware of someone I thought was kinda cool and I asked her out to coffee and every time I did, the person was happy I asked and I’ve made some great friends. The trick is to find people that inspire you and that you aspire to be like, but in a healthy, non-obsessive way. We’re not talking Single White Female here. We’re thinking more Beaches.

The biggest change in my life the last few months is having a mentor that I can trust, love and listen to. My mentor lets me vent, lets me struggle and has wonderful things to say about me and to me. She is someone who inspires me and believes in me, always. She always, always, always knows that I can do things that I don’t think I can do. That is a powerful thing to have in your life.

9. Eat Well-  This is one of the more fun. I think it’s important to make a ceremony out of eating. To relish and cherish what you put in your mounth. Feel it between your teeth, in your belly and nourish your body. Some foods make me feel a little quesy minutes after ingesting them. Obviously things to avoid. Some make me feel happy and some even make me feel even virtuous. But more than the foods it’s about HOW you eat. Eating well is about more than what you eat, but where, when and how you have meals.

Are you stuffing fast food down your throat while you drive? Are you heating up processed, frozen food while you watch reality tv? Are you noticing what you’re eating, really being present with the experience. Is eating this way adding anything to your life. I know we all have to grab food just to tide us over sometimes, but these should be rare occasions, not the norm.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or special. One of my favorite indulgent meals is an open-faced fresh sandwich. I lightly toast my favorite lusty dark rye break and with a thin layer of mayo or sometimes plain. I pile on fresh mozzarella/baked brie/creamy goat cheese and then I add a slice of juicy tomato/crisp cucumber/biting red onion/spicy pepper and I walk to the garden and snip a sprig of fresh basil/dill/cilantro. Sometimes it’s a combination of embarrassingly gigantic stack of these ingredients. I pour myself a sparkling water with lime in my favorite wine glass and sit on the deck with a great book/magazine or just watch the birds playing on the grass. It makes me feel special/sexy/luscious. I don’t spend a lot of money or time, but it feels wonderful and more than my belly is satisfied.

Make a ceremony out of your next meal. Be thankful for the animals and plants that gave their lives to nourish yours. Relish your food. If you’re not enjoying what you’re eating ask yourself why.

10. Love Yourself- Ok, I left it till ten cause it’s BIG. My biggest obstacle was HOW. How do I love myself? I looked in the mirror and there was so much I didn’t like. There was so much that made me cringe. How was I going to change that?

Well, it didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t happen because other people told me I was great. It didn’t happen from that weekend Love Yourself seminar. It happened little by little, day by day, year by year. And I’m not out of the self-hatred woods yet.

I had to look at myself deeply. Had to see myself objectively. Had to really dig deep. It was easy to focus on the things that were wrong or the things that I hated. It was soooo hard to start liking even one tiny bit of myself. And that’s how I started, with one tiny bit. I focused on one thing, Just one thing that I liked.

And I did the things above. I found that I liked the calm and centeredness that came from walking. I liked the creative sparks and the peace that came over me and I found that when I felt peaceful there were more things that I liked about myself. So I kept walking.

Then I realized that when I worked on gratitude I was aware of a pretty good life. Sure, there were problems. but I had the skeleton of the life I really wanted. And every day I do something that makes that life more of a reality.

I found that when I was with those people that inpsired me and were living their lives in ways that I wanted to live mine, I felt good. I felt awesome! I felt like I could do anything too. So I kept doing that.

Learning to love myself was a process. Learning to forgive myself, accept myself and truly be vulnerable to myself were great lessons and all led to a lot of love. Don’t get me wrong, the flourscent lights and my thighs are not best friends in the dressing room at Kohl’s. But today I can look, whereas I used to turn away from the mirror.

It’s all about the journey.

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