Do you have a friend that you are convinced is always having the best day EVER? You know the one. They look great, always have plenty of energy, are always in a good mood and never seem to be harried or worried about anything. You look at them from the outside and say to yourself “What I wouldn’t give to live a day in their shoes. That person always has it together. Maybe one day I will be like that”. Then you realize that’s impossible because you have … (insert problem or negative thought about yourself here).
The truth is that NOONE has it together all of the time. While it is true that some people may be better at faking it or they may even be more organized or successful than me or you today that does not mean that person is better. It is remarkably human to look at someone else’s life and believe that person has reached a level of success in any area of life that you won’t achieve. Reality is that we all, and I mean ALL have negative thoughts. Everyone will have a bad day. Pretty people fall down or spill coffee on their clothes, organized people forget to bring something important to work, and people who love everyone and everything will occasionally curse someone in traffic.
The question to ask is how do we handle our negative thoughts and imperfections? There is something very common and human to judge ourselves harshly for even having negative thoughts. That judgment will then lead us down the path of more negative thoughts as we spiral quickly into the worst day ever. I truly believe that one of the most important choices we have is to realize those thoughts are a part of normal every day thinking while not letting that thought dictate our reality. By choosing to focus or attach to that thought, we are perpetuating it. And that affects the entire body. When we are sad or angry with ourselves or others we have stress hormones swirling around in our bodies. These hormones make our blood clot faster (which could lead to stroke or heart attack), make our hearts beat faster and blood pressure rise (more stress on heart and vasculature), raises our blood sugar, and makes us more likely to react to others in a way that is more negative and aggressive. These hormones even change the way your brain processes information.
In short what we think is who we become. And what we become dictates how we interact with our environment and those around us. For me, right now I am committed to not letting my negative thoughts dictate my present and future. It is normal and natural to have these thoughts. How we chose to respond to them is a learned behavior that we can change with practice. Of course it is a process and change is usually gradual. Some great ways to start are simply to notice the thoughts but then refocus on something better without judging yourself for the thought. Exercise, prayer and meditation can be very helpful in refocusing. Another great thing to do (and one of my personal favorites) is simply to give thanks for what and whom you love in your life. Stop and really smell the flowers, or do something nice for someone else like paying the toll for the person behind you. Doing something that makes you happy makes you feel good. And that is the first step to a better day.