Tonight I visited the drive-thru of Taco Bell. When the woman at the drive-thru gave me the total, I handed her my card. Well, I tried to hand her my card. Instead of taking it, she stretched the card reader out of the window and held it there in front of me.
I paused for a moment to look up to her, and then I realized that I was supposed to stick the card into the machine myself. I fumbled around with it for a few seconds before I finally got it to go in the slot (that’s what she said).
Then the woman looked at me and said: “Sorry about that. I hate this. I can’t wait until all of this is over.”
She looked tired. She looked stressed. She looked beat down by life. I just looked at her and said, “It’s okay. Better safe than sorry, I guess.” Then I drove off with my delicious tacos and had dinner.
Begin noticing and being careful about keeping your imagination free of thoughts that you do not wish to materialize. Instead, initiate a practice of filling your creative thoughts to overflow with ideas and wishes that you fully intend to manifest. Honor your imaginings regardless of others seeing them as crazy or impossible.–Wayne Dyer
It’s the last part of what she said that stuck with me. “I can’t wait until all of this is over.” It’s something I’ve said in my life many times. How often to do we face hard times in our lives and just concede that the time is better off behind us than experienced fully in the present?
When we are going through hardships, we tend to write off the entire experience as hardship without realizing that we can have good experiences in those times as well. We also do this when times are good. We look back on an experience as all good, even though we may have had some bad moments during the experience.
There are no fully bad or fully good experiences.
Do you remember the last time you did something really fun? Maybe you went to an amusement park or on vacation to the beach. Maybe you went to Disney World. In retrospect, we look back on those moments as overall good experiences. But what we don’t remember is how we were stuck in traffic for an hour trying to get into the park. Or how we had to wait for two hours before riding that amazing roller coaster.
We paint the experience with the feeling that we most associate with the moment. We view things like vacations and amusement parks as overall good experiences, so we filter out all of the bad moments when we remember them.
For the past couple of months we have been holed up in our houses waiting for this virus to peak and for this experience to pass. If you look on social media, everyone is crying out in misery or making bad jokes about how awful all of this is. Being stuck in our houses is not something we associate with having fun.
You can experience joy in an overall bad time just as you can experience sadness in a good time. The truth is…
Your feelings are determined by your thoughts from moment to moment and not from any one experience.
The next time you feel bad, pay attention to your thoughts. I think you will discover that your experience in that moment is completely dependent on what you are thinking. When you have a bad experience, your thoughts will replay like a tape in your head. You’ll find yourself telling yourself how to feel about the moment.
If you’ve ever read or listened to anything by Tony Robbins, you’ll find that he beats this concept like a dead horse. Robbins would tell you that the best way to change how you feel is to change your physiology. It may be one of the most important things to understand if you are trying to make a change in your life. It’s simple and trite: your thoughts determine your reality.
Pay attention to what you are thinking. If you want to change the way you feel in a moment, shift your focus onto things that make you happy. Do anything but wish your life away. It’s not the passage of time that will make you feel better. It’s how the passage of time changes your thoughts.
If you want to have better experiences, train your mind to gravitate towards good thoughts.
There’s no such thing as a “one and done” personal growth experience. There is no grassy knoll just over yonder hilltop. There’s only you and your brain and how you’ve trained your brain to think. If you haven’t consciously taught yourself how to think, then you’ve allowed yourself to live at effect to the experiences you’ve had.
Think of your mind as an airplane. An airplane has all sorts of gauges and gadgets to keep it on course. You don’t just put a plane in the air and point it toward your destination once. You make many minor adjustments during the trip. The plane has got to be constantly steered back on course.
Your mind is the same way. If you want to be happy, you have to keep steering your mind towards happy thoughts. This will not be easy at first, especially if you’ve been living in depression and anxiety. If you spend all of your time worrying about what is going to happen or thinking about how much of a failure you are, it won’t be easy to change course.
Your negative thoughts will pass more quickly as you learn to experience them fully.
I’m not advocating that you ignore the negative stuff. Being stuck in your house all of the time with no real social outlets sucks. It’s a big bag of suckitude on sucky street in suck town. You don’t have to pretend that your bad experiences don’t exist in order to move past them.
Consider the difference between resisting your feelings and experiencing them. If you’re in a fight against a bigger opponent, you’ll have more success if you work with their motion rather than against it. If you try to tackle them like a football player, you’re liable to run up against them like a brick wall. But if you were to use their motion against them, you’ll find that you will have a better chance at beating them.
The suffering we face is a measure of how much we resist the truth of a situation. Instead of sitting around wishing and hoping for this time to pass, acknowledge that this situation sucks and let yourself experience those negative feelings fully. Hoping for a better time is a position of anxiety. Acknowledging that this is a shitty situation is a position of acceptance.
When you accept your current circumstance, you’re free to put your focus on more positive things.
At the end of your acceptance is the freedom to choose your next thought. This is an iterative process. Your mind will keep gravitating back to negative thoughts and experiences, and you will have to keep directing your thoughts to more positive things. The more you do this, the more comfortable you will get with the direction your thoughts take.
At the end of the day, you are the one in the driver’s seat. You have to decide what destination you want your mind to have. If you want to have more positive experiences, look for more opportunities to be grateful for what you have. Look for the beauty that surrounds you on a daily basis.
Your mind will always default toward the things you train yourself to think about. If you don’t train your thoughts, you might not like where they take you. So, choose to focus on things that make you feel good. Choose to focus on things that make you happy.
This, too, will pass. But your thoughts about this will only pass when you address them.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my latest book: The Valley of the Shadow of Death: A Memoir of Hope for the Depressed and Grieving…