When I started this column, I thought it would be a mechanism for getting in shape, changing physical habits and becoming healthier. I thought I would become a regular at the gym. “I just wanna …
When I started this column, I thought it would be a mechanism for getting in shape, changing physical habits and becoming healthier. I thought I would become a regular at the gym. “I just wanna feel better” meant that my body would be stronger and trimmer.
Instead, I focused on my mental habits, which through the year, thankfully, have changed a bit. I’m easier on myself. I have become aware of how many times my mind is telling me that somehow the situation I find myself in should be somehow different. A couple of mornings ago, I realized how odd that was. The situation should be different than what it was? How is that even possible? The sentiment that things are what they are is particularly appropriate here.
I have become acutely aware of how much of our experience is the mental meaning that we give to it. Are we trapped and doomed by our situations, or are we somehow given the opportunity to make changes? Can examining unrecognized assumptions and negative mind-chatter give us the opportunity to appreciate that, however flawed, we are unique individuals with gifts to bring forth in the world? Can we then make the changes needed to feel better and be more effective?
When I was a girl, I had to clean my room every Saturday morning. To do this, I played a game with myself. I would pretend that I was on a game show, where I had to clean up a room. I would pull down the shades, take everything off the bureaus and all surfaces, and put it on the floor. By doing that, the room looked amazingly messy. It was then my task to quickly clean it up.
I would dust the surfaces and take the things off the floor, one by one, dust them and put them back where they belonged. After that, I would vacuum the now-cleared floor. Finally, with a “Ta-da!” flair, I would snap up the shades, and reveal a bright, clean room.
Right now, my house is a mess. It’s not unhealthily dirty. But if you were allergic to dust, you would have a very hard time being in my house. I marvel at how messy I am as I take small steps to straighten and organize. I muse that my dorm room in seminary was amazingly organized. It was the same when I lived for a year by myself during my ministerial internship. I had the energy to set up my lovely basement apartment and kept it amazingly clear. No dishes in the sink, even.
As I headed off to seminary some 16 years ago, I thought I would do a deep purge of my belongings, and get rid of everything that I thought I wouldn’t need in the next phase of my life. I didn’t do it. Interestingly, I’m slowly taking steps to do it now.
Feeling better is about allowing ourselves to be who we are. And celebrating and acknowledging the small positive steps that we are taking. And being gentle and encouraging to ourselves as we often fall short.
So wherever you are on your journey to feeling better, I hope that you have found an integration between your habits, your intentions, and your sense of yourself in the world. And mostly I hope, very simply, that you’ve found ways to feel better. In our crazy world, we need to safeguard a sense of well-being, and a commitment to positive action.
In preparation for writing this column, I quickly vacuumed some of the dust from my bedroom floor. And while it seems daunting to organize the whole house, it seems very possible to organize my room. In fact, I’ve been slowly doing that for days.
For me, so much of my wanting to feel better is based on noticing the positive steps that I am taking.
And delightfully, I have found a five-minute movement app that I am using in the morning. I am learning that being physically fit does not simply mean going to the gym all the time.
It’s about moving our body in conscious ways, and appreciating the wonder of it all.
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