Chapter 9 –
C.S. Lewis said, ‘We are what we believe we are.’ We can go one further and say ‘We are in the mess we believe we’re in.’
So, dear Reader, when we feel pushed to ask ‘How can I reshape the mess I’m in?’ the 4-pronged answer goes along those lines:
First stride – we prioritize correctly, coherently. We do not want to run the risk of taking on too much and doing nothing well.
Second stride (made up of many-many small steps): we quieten the emotions and the feelings they spin throughout our body.
Third stride (made up of many-many small steps): we quieten our thoughts.
Leaps and bounds: after weeks and months of committed practice, our actions and our responses to stimuli begin to recalibrate according to our highest intentions. They are those that, for so long, have lived cooped up in the cockles of our heart, unable to breathe freely.
Easily said, yes.
Never easily done.
But, then again, we ask ourselves, ‘What, within the category of Worthwhile Pursuits, has ever been easy to begin and sustain?’
Getting fit from scratch? Losing weight? Learning a foreign language? Learning to sing or play an instrument? Making an entrepreneurial leap? Anyone one of us, couch potatoes putting together a TikTok dance?
Ok, we get that.
So, now, we are not afraid to ‘get it wrong’.
We make mistakes with some of our small steps.
We trip. We wince. We fall. We cry. We get up.
We start again … differently, this time.
We start again with clearer vibrational energy.
Heads up: if we try, make a mistake, give up feeling discouraged or helpless, we will never allow in the positive outcome that’s out there, waiting for us on the other side of the ‘the veil’.
So, as all toddlers do, we learn from the mistakes made with some small steps.
We try our best in the next round.
Throughout it all, we practice fun, and we practice success in our mind.
Here’s something very cool to keep in mind: neuroscientists tell us that our mind does not get the difference between us participating in a real event and us faking it till we make it … in our mind.
They say that if we can convincingly get our mind to a happy place where we do happy things, our brain will release endorphins to start the positive feedback loop of happiness.
That, indeed, is a little trick well-worth practising again and again.
‘Think of the dollars you can save by doing that, CC,’ Yudit joked one day when, for a reason or another, I had complained about having to cancel a planned holiday.
Yudit explained that, though her husband had travelled in and out of Israel many times, she had not felt the urge to travel out of Jerusalem in the past 30 years.
‘Why would I want to go through the problems of travelling? All I have to do is close my eyes. I relax my body. And then, the beach is right there in front of me.
I see the beach, the one I always liked best, even as a child. It didn’t have a name back in those days, but it’s on the road to Rosh HaNikra.
I see the waves, CC. I hear them as clearly as I hear the gulls calling out. I feel the sun on my face. I walk on the sand and feel its grains. The only thing that’s not in my head is the sound of human voices.
I breathe in the breeze, and I sit down on the sand for a while. I know I have a big smile on my face.’ Yudit urged, ‘You should try it, CC.’
Reality check: we know that when we take time to reflect positively on our past and present, we consider with heightened clarity the future we wish feel throughout the series of moments constantly streaming underfoot.
So, here and now, dear Reader, how about we take our thoughts back to the best time we ever had, and we relive it in glorious detail?
What? Can’t bring up any ‘woo-hoo’ moment from the past?
No problem! Let’s make one up from scratch right now – one that we would love to have occur in the near future.
We allow that energized vision to awaken us, to energize us and to make us smile a broad smile, right here – right now.
The longer we keep our wakeful dream alive – the longer our brain wags its tail like a happy puppy – the longer it keeps ‘happy’ in its circuitry.
Seriously, how cool is that, huh?
Clarity is the bedrock of any coherent, sustainable change of habit.
So, topping up our morning meditation, two or three-minutes transition meditations slotted throughout each day help us release what the day has so far yielded.
They help us settle down ahead of the next moment.
These transition moments of conscious breathing keep us operating at our best. They calm our often-over-aroused autonomic nervous system, the by-product of modern culture.
Reality check: we can’t tackle the whole giant conundrum of how we fix inner and outer dysfunctionality. At least, not at once.
So, we do accept that an unprecedented, whole-systems effort that mobilizes every resource available is what we need to activate within us. Only a multipronged, comprehensive and sustained strategy will pay the dividends we are after.
So, when things don’t go exactly to plan, one essential feature of our comprehensive approach must be the ability to go with the flow – to accept what’s pop up underfoot,
For now, small steps.
How about we pick the most glaring ‘problem’ that’s right in our face?
How about we find one small thing we can fix and lean into it?
Often a little gesture will do.
Often one would-be reproach not formulated will do.
A few words of apology spoken hand-on-heart will do, too.
Prompting ourselves to give of our time, of our patience, of our empathy instead of incoherently defaulting to a mode of ‘take/insist and pressure’ will serve us well, too.
It will do right now.
Like the invisible movements of tectonic plates under the sea, every unprocessed hurtful moment, regardless of its importance or lack of, can potentially trigger aftershocks years after the ‘mainshock’. Our brain has a very long memory when it comes to our emotional pain.
Therefore, as if looking from above and into the past, we are, indeed, thankful for the resilience our younger ego-persona displayed in the management of our early childhood and beyond, well beyond.
We thank her for her handling of the circumstances that have brought us through the best and the worst of the life we know, here and now.
So, dear Reader, how about we insert the power of Happy Imagination near the top of our bucket list?