When I was a 10-year old girl, change meant something new was about to happen; an adventure was in store. Life was rich with experience and I, awe-struck, determined to try everything once. In sharing this memory with others, heads nod in familiarity of a once-held universal joy of exploration. When I turned 37, although change still meant experimenting with the new, I no longer felt this awe-struck joy with life. So, I asked myself “What brings you joy?” only to hear an echo of silence from within. What do you hear when you ask the same question?
Twenty-seven years of living unconsciously drove joy out of my experience. I wanted and needed to change this negative outcome. In my case, dissatisfaction was motivating my desire for change. Here is the silver lining in what appeared as a dark cloud. A decade of championing change in organizational systems taught me that all change is lifestyle change, whether it carries the title of organizational transformation, technological implementation or personal reinvention.
Lifestyle, as defined in the dictionary, is “the way(s) in which a person or group lives.” My first step in changing my lifestyle was consciously choosing only those ways that brought peace, love and joy into my life. Why peace, love and joy as determinants? When I assessed what was most important to me, these values ranked highest.
When we approach change from a negative starting point (dissatisfaction, crisis or fear), our options for successful achievement of our goals are already limited.
Children and adults avoid and resist negative stimuli including spankings, getting yelled at by the boss or receiving disapproving looks. Children and adults desire and attempt to receive positive stimuli (hugs, compliments or approving looks).
Instead of allowing negativity to drive your behavior, use your natural attraction to what is positive in your life (your values) to proactively motivate your actions.
When I consciously chose to align my “value” with my response to the world, I began the journey toward sustainable, long-term change. And by the way, it affected every aspect of my lifestyle (relationships, career, body, identity, attitude, behavior, etc.). Old patterns limiting my capacity to survive and thrive released about as easily as bubble-gum from the sole of my shoe. However, through exploration I eventually discovered a simple formula that unglued resistance — affirmation + meditation + action.
Affirmations, popularized by Louise Hay, are positive statements of what we wish to hold firm in our lives. Repeated aloud a few times a day, affirmations accomplish at least three new results –
- remind us daily of who we are and what we want to experience.
- stop negative thoughts and feelings (self-doubt, worry, panic, depression, anxiety, etc.) from chattering at us all day and draining our energy.
- create new positive pathways in the brain that are the biological foundation for new thoughts, feelings and behavioral patterns.
During my most recent lifestyle change, repeating the following affirmation daily over several months eliminated anxiety and fear while strengthening my confidence.
All is well. Life loves me, and I love life.
Everything is working out for my highest good.
Out of this situation, only good will come. And, I am safe.
Similarly, mindful meditation helps focus concentration, stills the ever-chattering mind and engages positive emotional response. During meditation, I silently repeat the following Buddhist chant when I need to shift from identifying with negative thoughts and feelings.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be well.
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
You can easily design affirmations and meditations in response to what is currently showing up in your life and bring your mind and spirit into alignment.
Equally important, the third aspect of our being — our body — is fed through movement or action that can be as simple as bringing daily physical activity into our experience. Choose from hundreds of possibilities (walk, jog, yoga, dance, ski, skate, etc.) based on where your passion resides. In other words, act on what brings “value” (in my case — peace, love, joy) to SPICE up your life. To help focus your search, download SPICE, a free assessment tool. Purposeful action in the world not only expresses who we are but also engages us in social networks that profoundly reflect and enable our healing and transformation process.
What change opportunity or challenge are you facing right now? Write an affirmation that echoes the change you wish to hold firm for yourself. Choose one to three times each day to say the affirmation aloud or meditate daily on the affirmation by repeating it silently. Stay with your meditative affirmation until you feel a physical shift within your body.