There is freshness in the air! The earlier rising and later setting sun as winter dissipates into spring clearly mark the time for a refresh. Time to clean out with what is no longer “sparking joy” (in the words of Marie Kondo) and make space to fill with joie de vivre.
Aside from closet purging - which I love to do this time of year - might it also be time to reevaluate our relationships to ideas, habits, people that at one time seemed to be constructive?
A personal cleanse, starting from the inside out.
What is going on inside the brain (mindset), what have you been nourishing your body with (food + drink), how you are mobilizing your energy (movement), have you been giving yourself time for self-care (sleep + time for pure enjoyment)?
I thought it might be nice to share how I go about this, so for the next few weeks I’ll be filling you in on my spring cleaning protocol. Mind. Food. Movement. Sleep. (You’ll have to figure out what sparks joy in your closets on your own).
This week let’s talk about the mind. Indeed, spirit, mind and body are inseparable.
What is your inner narrative? Did you know that those with a positive view on life and aging on average live over 7 years longer than those with a negative perspective? As world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote in the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “Small shifts in mindset can trigger a cascade of changes so profound that they test the limits of what seems possible.”
The problem with thoughts - the dark, draining and diminishing ones is that they become so familiar, they can masquerade themselves as normal. It takes deliberate contemplation to acknowledge them, and purposeful shifting to reset your narrative. With a mind cluttered by negativity, it is nearly impossible to physically feel good and be able to move forward. This same type of fuzziness can directly get in the way of moving towards your goals. This does not mean you should fake positivity (and pretend that those extra 20 pounds you put on this winter is good thing). What you can do, however, is to see it for what it is, make necessary changes and know it will pass. By making small changes, you can edit the negative junk out of your story.
Simply notice. Are your thoughts eliciting a spacious feeling in your chest (calm)? Is your brow relaxed? Or are they causing your shoulders to creep up around your ears (anxiety)? Take note. Then it is up to you to make an executive decision. Do you want to keep this story rolling or pick a new path?
Decide to have a good day and take action. What do the first few minutes - the first hour - of your day look like? A strong morning routine can set the stage for a happier, more productive day. You may be thinking that is irresponsible and unproductive NOT to check your inbox first thing in the morning, but in all reality the world will not come crashing down around you if you wait another 10/20…60 minutes. It may even seem counterintuitive to spend extra time in the morning for conventionally “non-productive” rituals. The contrary is true. That extra time to “set” your mind and body first thing in the morning has the ability to transform the course of the day. The cost of a few minutes is relatively small for the disproportionally big win - your happiness in life.
Essential to a strong morning routine is the directing of the mind. Carve out a few minutes to focus on gratitude, meditation, visualization, breath work and journaling. Be okay with what you are able to do. It’s easy to fall back to an all or nothing mentality, or worse, an “I am not good enough” one. Either would have the opposite effect. Award yourself a smile for whatever it is you are able to do. HERE you’ll find more details on mindset exercises.
When you find yourself stuck in traffic, late for an important date or up in the middle of the night with no sign of falling back into dreamland, recognize where your mind wanders. “Oy vey” or “this too shall pass”? Throughout the day, urge yourself to detach from self-created (negative), premature outcomes. In all reality, we don’t know what will materialize out of any situation. Maintaining a mindset of clear and calm will positively affect your health - and potentially the outcome as well.
And…the same can be true in how you express yourself. According to research, less complaining = better mood + increased happiness and mindfulness. When asked how you are doing, do you slip into talking about the maladies of life. Take a moment before opening your mouth to transform your gripe into a neutral or positive articulation. This can take time - culturally we are wired to complain - but with practice can be accomplished. Being of South American decent and a native New Yorker has ingrained in me the art of bellyaching, so I work on this often. I’ve set aside this month as a non-complaining month. When I feel the urge to kvetch, I internally change my tune before blurting out the negative.
If I can do it, so can you.
Next up: Spring Cleaning - Food.
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