- Marie Belzile-Davidson, MS, RDN, LD
Where Your Mind Goes, Energy Flows
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
I'm willing to bet you've heard about the importance of mindset before. Countless motivational speakers and coaches talk about it, it's the subject of so many blog posts and discussion boards. Why am I putting another blog post out into the world about mindset then if it seems overdone? Because I don't believe the value of mindset can be overstated, it truly does matter! Plus, I'll talk about my adorable puppy in this one :)
Let's try something together: clear your mind of any other thoughts for a couple of moments and just focus on the next few sentences (no weird tricks here, I promise! Stay with me). Imagine you have a bowl of freshly cut lemon wedges in front of you. Really picture it as best you can. Now, picture yourself picking up one of the wedges. Once you've picked it up, place the lemon wedge in your mouth. Bite down into the lemon and take note of what you're experiencing. Did your lips pucker just thinking about tasting a lemon? Did your mouth start to tighten up as if you had actually eaten something sour? You didn't truly put a piece of lemon in your mouth but just the thought of it had the power to bring forth a physical reaction. Your thoughts were able to shape your reality at that moment.
The power your thoughts have over your life doesn't just stop at simple things like pretending you're eating a lemon. Everything that runs through your head (and if you're like me, it's A LOT, all the time) has the potential to influence your actions and reactions. Now, we may not always have control over what thoughts enter our minds, but we do control which ones we hold space for and dwell on. We can choose to drive out the negative ones and actively replace them with more positive thoughts. I've found that for this to happen though, a positive mindset is key.
Recently, I've had two days that started in nearly the exact same way but had two totally different outcomes because of, you guessed it, my mindset. A few weeks ago, my dog went through an odd three day stretch of not sleeping through the night. He wasn't sick, he'd been fed all his meals and given plenty of water, he'd gotten plenty of exercise and family time, and every night he had his usual pre-bedtime bathroom break and treat. He was fine, he just wanted attention. He's 11 months old but he's still a puppy after all!
The first night, I was confused and honestly annoyed. The cries for attention spanned from 12 am - 3 am and I finally gave up. Tired and upset, I took him outside (he didn't have to go to the bathroom) and begrudgingly laid down on the couch with him until it was time to get up. I was in a bad mood and I let that flow into the start of my day. The negative thoughts filled my mind and I just kept searching for other "terrible" things around me to justify my mindset and approach to the day. I put a negative spin on everything around me. Now, the reality of my life that day wasn't terrible, but the false reality I created for myself was. In actuality, I was lucky my dog was healthy and just wanted some family time, I was lucky I had the luxury of cutting back on my to-do list since I was sleep-deprived, and I was fortunate enough to go to bed earlier that evening to try and get some more rest.
On the second night, the same thing happened again. The dog cried for attention for several hours and while I was initially annoyed, I forced myself to shift my mindset because yesterday had been a day and I felt physically awful after it. I did not want a repeat. I chose to see that our dog didn't know any better and just wanted some more time together, like so many of us humans want! I got out of bed, let him out, and we curled up on the couch together until we both fell asleep. I didn't sleep well that night, I still woke up exhausted and a bit sore, but forcing myself into a positive mindset created a totally different day than the one before-my energy was focused on finding the good: I was appreciative that my dog got his sleep (he can get grumpy too) I was lucky to have lots of puppy snuggles, I was able to shift my schedule to match my energy level, and I remembered I had resources to help me with the pup's nighttime cries. I reached out to our dog trainer for help and it turns out the thing to do was let the little guy cry it out, since everything else was fine, and voila, it worked! My dog slept through the night again after that!
Did I have a rough start to those two mornings? Sure. Did I have an awful reality though? Not at all. I didn't have to torture myself with a "terrible" day after that first night. I could have taken a few minutes to shift my mindset and had two albeit sleepless nights but great days to follow, rather than having one crappy day thrown in there. You have the ability to make the same shift into a more positive mindset, we all do! There are positives out there, we just have to put the time and effort into seeing them, and it's a lot easier when your mind is primed to focus on the good.
Think of your mindset as the title of a book. It creates the tone for the overall story and drives the content on the pages to come. A positive mindset holds so much potential: It can give us the ability to work through a difficult situation, it can help us make time for self-care and good nutrition, it can take away some unnecessary stress, it can allow us to see the good that exists around us, and it can help us create our own happiness! This simple shift in how we choose to see our situation can have a profound impact on our health and well-being, but just like everything else worthwhile, it takes work and patience.
I will be the first to admit that I don't have a positive mindset every single day. It's difficult and it takes a lot of deliberate action and energy. Also, things sometimes aren't super wonderful around us and we need a moment to just sit with those feelings. That's all ok! Having a positive mindset and choosing it more frequently than a negative one is a process- it takes practice and time. Don't beat yourself up because you couldn't do it perfectly and consequently throw the towel in (this is our next blog topic, by the way, get excited!). Treat it like you would any other skill. Try to get a little better at it, each and every day. It'll be harder to practice some days than others but the more you try, the more it'll become second nature.
There's no one right way to get into a positive mindset so take the path that works for you! If you need a little inspiration, here's what I found helps me: First thing in the morning before I even get out of bed, I think of three things I'm looking forward to that day. Then, every night before bed, I think of 3 things I'm grateful for. It's nothing magical and isn't complicated but it sure is effective at helping me get into the right mindset. So what are you waiting for?! Try out some ways to shift into a more positive mindset and see what works for you. You more than deserve the happiness that comes along with it!