These days, life feels busier than ever. You’re running around. Stressed out. Trying to fit everything in. Feeling ragged, anxious, on edge, exhausted. Disappointed when you don’t accomplish everything you intended to. Sometimes with a nagging feeling you’re letting someone down. That you didn’t check a box or remember something important when it really mattered. A feeling that, despite good intentions, you’ve failed.
Then there’s the thinking. Cycles of it. Thoughts moving so fast, one leading to another and another until you’re on a merry-go-round that doesn’t feel merry at all. Looking back. Regretting what happened, what you said, what you did (or didn’t).
Or looking ahead. Anxious about what is headed your direction. Thinking about what you want. And reasons you fear it won’t come. Plenty of reasons. So many reasons. And then all of them, lined up like little soldiers on a self-created imaginary battlefield where you play out, sometimes in great detail, the worst-case scenario.
And for what?
This is not the life you signed up for. This isn’t how you envisioned it going.
You didn’t expect to plow through your day filled with feelings and thoughts that are unpleasant or, at worst, disempowering. Feeling regretful or fearful or confused. With a tsunami of thoughts moving so fast, it’s like they are controlling you, instead of the other way around.
The truth is, your inner life is very rich. It is full of thoughts and feelings, all of which you create. Your inner life is what you create, what only you can create and experience, through those thoughts and feelings. Which means that your rich inner life will always be rich. And you’re in charge of it: you get to decide what kind of richness you create for it.
Which means you get to choose the thoughts and feelings that comprise your rich inner life. That is your power, your prerogative, and it always has been. And because your thoughts are happening and you can sense what you are feeling right now, in real time, your power of choosing – your thoughts and feelings are in your complete control. Right now. Not in the past, not in the future. Now.
So why not invite yourself to experience a revolutionary act of self-care?
Give yourself a two-minute mini vacation from your normal life, right now, to think and feel on purpose. For no good reason other than you might feel good. And take a break from any stress.
Start with something easy: a memory.
Remember a happy event. Re-experience this happy event. Feel the increasing feelings of happiness, joy and love.
Savor it. Imagine it. Replay it. Enjoy it. Milk it. Increase it. Expand it. Bask in it. For as long as you want.
When you conclude, note what is happening with you. How do you feel? What’s on your mind? What did you notice? What was it like to think and feel on purpose by calling up that memory?
Also notice what it’s like for you as you move through your day after doing this. Does anything change? Are you showing up any differently? Are you noticing anything different happening with your environment, your relationships, your work? Make notes as you go along.
Once you get the hang of this practice of thinking, feeling and remembering lovely things, try it every day. If you wanted to, you could also set up an imaginary laboratory in your mind, just for you, where you could experiment with doing more of this important work.
In this experimental space where anything that you can imagine is possible, what powerful, delicious, fun and satisfying memories, thoughts and feelings would you stock the shelves with? What treasures would you enter into your database of possibilities to mix and match? What new and wonderful concoctions would you create to will satisfy and delight you? What new discoveries would you take with you, or maybe share with others, as a result this work? What honors would you earn as a result of the achievements of your extraordinary, brilliant alchemy? What other fun could you have with this?
The thought lab is just an idea. Use what works for you. But actually dedicating a space in your imagination that is just for you, to feel good and create more feeling-good thoughts and feelings, is a powerful tool you can use to heal or rejuvenate yourself, your life, your relationships, your family, your work over time. It’s free. It’s easy. It doesn’t take a lot of time. There’s no agenda, nothing to clean up, no deliverables, no wrong answers, only experimentation and exploration on your own terms. You’re in charge. It’s fun. You want to do it, simply because it feels good.
And although feeling good on purpose is a potent form of self-care, there’s more.
It’s a powerful, life-changing practice.
Because after doing it for a bit, you’ll understand that you can use the practice as much more than an escape. You will see that you are much more in touch with what you are thinking and feeling on a regular basis. And because of that, it becomes self-care throughout the day, in real time.
Thinking and feeling on purpose eventually impacts how you think and feel in general. It slows down your feedback-response loop, reminding you that you have choice when it comes to what you think and feel, even when an external stimulus really gets your attention. It reconnects you with that power to choose, and offers a variety of response options that are readily available because you’ve been practicing them in the background. Over time, you’ll be choosing more often how you want to respond in any circumstance, faced with any challenge.
Pretty soon, you won’t need to put on your goggles and lab coat and enter your sacred lab. Your lab will be part of you, and you’ll be living in a much more vast, dynamic, magic, creative realm of possibilities. You’ll be able to access new thinking, new feeling on demand.
And that really can change everything.
Starting with the person you choose to show up as, in your own life.
So what begins as self-care and escape can become a practice that radically transforms your life. It can open the door to thriving, abundance and other delightful possibilities you have previously allowed yourself to explore only cautiously, or not at all.
So what have you got to lose?