CAUTION: This one is pretty emotionally raw. If you get to the end and want to puke, just remember...I warned you.
So, I've been on this 21-day journey to re-train my brain towards positivity. It all began when I happened to catch a TEDx Talk by Shawn Achor called "The Happy Secret to Better Work".
As a refresher, Achor proposed the following:
"If happiness is on the opposite side of success, your brain never gets there. What we’ve done is we’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society. That’s because we think we have to be successful, THEN we’ll be happier. But the REAL problem is, our brains work in the opposite order. If you can raise somebody’s level of positivity in the present, then their brain experiences something that we now call a ‘happiness advantage’, which is: your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed.” ~Shawn Achor
I have followed Achor's advice about changing my thought patterns for 20 days and now I have arrived at this last day of record-keeping.
1. I am thankful for an extremely productive first day back to work (after a week-long vacation). I don't know how I managed it, but I was able to keep my focus all day long and meet my crazy insane and important deadline, while not allowing everything else to spin out of control while I was doing so.
2. I'm thankful that I had the courage to visit a new church alone. A friend had invited me, but was out of town this weekend. I did some research on it and decided to try it out. It is not at all like a place I'd normally visit. It's nothing like I THOUGHT I would want. But, when I walked in, I texted a few very close friends these words:
"It SMELLS like a church should. There are old people everywhere. I can hear a choir singing. It FEELS like the Methodist church where I first became a Christian when I was 12, but there is a light and friendly vibe in this place. It's not 'contemporary' AT ALL. Strangely, it feels like going home. This type of church was the first I ever knew as a new believer. I didn't expect this today."
Still, I wondered if it would work for me...if this place could accept the fact that I'm thinking about and learning about meditation or that I chose a divorce or that I cuss like a sailor in everyday life or that I'm about to be living with my boyfriend out of wedlock.
The sermon was amazing...intelligent and even included (gasp) science. And, through every word and illustration, I became more aware that this church will love me where I'm at if I will let them. Judging me is the furthest thing from their minds. It was like the heaviest weight was being lifted...a weight of religiosity and legalism that I've carried on my heart for 23 years. In that church, I felt FREEDOM.
I am so excited about this...I can't wait to go back and to take Mr. T with me.
3. I'm thankful for the past 20 blogs. While some days felt like nothing more than making a tick mark on my to-do list, there were days that were deep and filled with insight and wonder...where I learned things about myself that I didn't know were in me. This has been a journey and I know it isn't over yet. And, trust me, I intend to keep writing about it. If you care to follow along, you are welcome to do so. If nobody reads it...well, it's not a big deal. This is my therapy and my catharsis and my joy. Writing is a processing of daily life for me and if I can make it a daily habit (as much as possible), it can only make me better and stronger.
Tonight was one of those profound nights. I checked out "Eat, Pray, Love" (the movie) from the local library. I've been itching to watch it.
I saw it 2.5 years ago and parts of it (the beginning) really resonated with me back then. I was going through a massive identity crisis at the time (somewhat like now, but different) and I decided to read the book and blog through it. If you have about a million years to read and want to go realllly deep with me, feel free to check that blog out:
Tonight, as I watched, it was from a completely different perspective. The first time I saw the film, I was in an unhappy situation, desperately trying to hold onto a failing marriage and somehow miraculously make it work. This time, I'm on the other side - divorced and going through much of what the author herself went through when she decided to travel the world. I won't lie...it was much more difficult to watch from this side - if only because I could so closely feel her pain in my own heart. There was actually one scene where I unexpectedly started sobbing with the character and it took me awhile to pull myself together and understand that I have some unresolved business with my own spirit that needs to be resolved. Powerful stuff!
Throughout the movie, I was reminded of my favorite quote from another movie, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower".
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
For my entire life, I've accepted LESS THAN love. I have thought so little of myself and I've welcomed people into my life who also thought very little of me, to the point that I became invisible...to myself and to them. Looking back, it's very sad. I lost myself. I lost my spirit, my true essence. And I knew it. It was sad because I knew my spirit was beautiful...but it had faded...and I didn't know where to find it. So many nights, I felt like I was living life but dead inside.
A quote from tonight's movie that I never noticed goes along with the quote above:
"Balance is...not allowing anybody to love you less than you love yourself."
That's something I've been learning in meditation this week. And it's something that I still need to work on. I can tell you this, though. I have never ever in my entire life felt wholly and completely loved. But today...I do. I now KNOW what that feels like and it's as if I was asleep for 35 years and have just now awakened to how very beautiful life can be.
It's not about just having a partner or a boyfriend. It's about having the RIGHT partner...I can say with no shadow of a doubt that Mr. T is the absolute love of my life. I know with everything in me that he and I were created for each other. If you would have asked my cynical and jaded soul one year ago to define love, I would have told you it was bullsh*t and it did not exist...that everyone that appears to be in love is a liar and is playing a part...that it is a miserable charade.
But it's only because I had never ever known it. One can't speak on what one doesn't experience.
Maybe it's the happiness experiment...or maybe it's just that I've been so blessed to finally connect with my soulmate...either way, I will call it a success. I have never been happier in my entire life.
Well....nope. Sorry! Haha.
Day 8 of the Oprah Winfrey/Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge.
Today's centering thought:
"I love and am loved unconditionally."
I guess there's really not much else I can add to that. I'm learning this and I'm experiencing it and that's just the best.
RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS