A clothespin clasped to a friend with words of encouragement, handwritten notes, and painted rocks... last week, students at Eastern Mennonite University beat the winter doldrums by spreading words of appreciation, gratitude and encouragement with these simple tools. Today as I walked across campus, the rocks' simple messages got me out of my hectic brain and made me focus on this moment.
Thank you to artists for slowing me down and being in the moment. It's really all we have. Moments, one after the other. Fixating on what happened yesterday or a decade ago and obsessing about what will happen tomorrow or next year occupies too much of our brain space. In The Joy Diet, 10 Daily Practices to a Happier Life, Martha Beck, PhD, provides a recipe to achieve the immediate gift of joyful living in the here and now.
Coach training was transformative for me in this simple way. I learned that when my brain swirls with thoughts of "what if" or "if only," I run on a vicious hamster wheel to nowhere. When I stop and tell myself, "Hey, I am okay right now, in this moment," my anxiety plummets... at least for the moment.
Let me not imply I have mastered this or rid myself of anxiety. This remembering that I am okay this moment is a discipline. As human beings, we get dozens of opportunities throughout the day to practice. We are bombarded with messages that send our brain into lizard mode -- fight or flight; scarcity is coming; we don't have enough; we're doing this all wrong.
Those messages aren't true and don't help us. One turtle step you can take toward managing anxiety is simply being aware when your thoughts are focused on the past or the future... call yourself home to this moment. Notice the painted rocks and other messages along your path that bring contentment and awareness that you are okay, right now.
And while you're at it, listen to any nudge you feel to share a note or message or hug or words of appreciation with a friend to let them know they too are okay, in this moment.
A 50-something life coach living in the Shenandoah Valley. Grateful. Growing. Giving... and receiving.