I read recently that the average human life span consists of 300,000 days. The questions posed with this statistic were: How many days might remain for you? and How do you want to live those days? While it’s helpful to think about and plan your life, breaking down your life span into days instead of years provides an opportunity to become more conscious of how you are living and to take responsibility for your thoughts, time, and energy, and how and where you want to invest these– day to day, moment to moment .
Investment in thoughts: Not only was I never taught how to invest money in my earlier years, neither was I taught how to invest wisely in my choice of thoughts (my parents hadn’t learned this either). Strange, since thinking is central to the education process.
Thoughts are funny things. Without our doing anything, they can pop into our head instantly, and jump around incessantly–like Mexican jumping beans. Imagine you’re planning the menu for a party for Uncle Henry’s 90 th birthday party. Here’s how your thinking might unfold:
Pasta would good–maybe lasagna…not sure about cheese…I should cut back on fats–and sugar! I really need to lose weight…no self-discipline…maybe I can find some recipes on the Internet…my back hurts…I really need a new computer chair…can’t afford it now…when is the economy going to improve?…I need a better job…my boss is always putting me down…wish those politicians would get their act together…I’m cold…I miss summer…I’m not very creative…my cousin Sherry might have some recipes…I’m so envious of her…she’s always had it together…always positive…she never had to go through what I’ve gone through…maybe yoga would help my back…I’ll ask Sherry for recipes.
Anything can trigger a thought. Scents, sounds, and body sensations can spark thoughts and memories of past experiences. We can be thrust back to reliving that experience at an emotional level, whether positive or negative. When negative, over time, brain pathways form that repeatedly keep us stuck in negative thought patterns, thus preventing us from being fully alive and present. Think of what we are missing within the hours, minutes, and moments of each passing day.
Wouldn’t you suppose that starting with a mindset, for example, that the “cup is half empty” instead of “half full” could affect how you study, learn, experiment, and create? If fear, doubt, or self-judgment is present, how can you make wise choices? Fortunately, as a participant in the school of life and one who has studied the science of thought, I have generated a significant affirmative thought portfolio.
One solution to rewiring the brain’s thought patterns is to go on a negative thought diet and use affirmative words and phrases to wash your brain of negativity. This is what Mohamed Ali did to build his self-esteem when he proclaimed, “I am the greatest.” People with strong will-power can shed pounds of negativity with this process, while the rest of us lose merely ounces, fluctuating up and down at best.
I suggest that rather than push away the negativity, you welcome it in and see what you can learn from it. Doing so removes its grip on you. Over time, this has a cleansing effect that frees you to welcome positive thoughts and affirmations: “I am good enough.” “I do have what it takes.” “Every day, more and more, I’m learning to live each moment.” This is true freedom.
Time shift paradigm: “Getting more out of life with less effort” is one of my mottos. Yet I sometimes feel pressured, finding myself struggling, running up against deadlines without enough time to complete projects. And I teach stress management! I recently learned that I’ve misunderstood what time really is. It’s not a commodity that we run out of. Rather, it’s something we actually create. Another thing I was never taught in school.
According to Gay Hendricks in his book The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, we are the source of time. He says we’ve all been stuck in the concept of Newtonian time, which is based on the notion that time is finite. There is only so much time and when you run out of it, it’s gone. We thus become victims of time. Time is our task master and we are its slaves.
Hendricks introduces a new paradigm for us to consider, “Einstein’s time.” When you are doing what you love, such as basking in the arms of your beloved, you relax, and time and space seem to disappear. On the other hand, when you are doing something you don’t enjoy, you may feel pressured or worried and develop tight muscles, etc.–a minute can seem like an hour.
When you are the source of time, you need to take ownership of it. Even in your busy life, you can make abundant time for family, interests, and self-care. To begin, Hendricks recommends regularly tuning into your body for sensations that reflect stress or pressure. Ask yourself where you are not taking full ownership in your life and allowing yourself to be the victim. Then, go on a victimhood diet eliminating phrases like, “there aren’t enough hours,” “I wish I had time for….” Incorporating this liberating paradigm into my life is proving to be one of the best investments I’ve ever made. My motto has increased in value.
Maximize your energy: Another way to get more out of life with less effort is to learn how to invest your energy. This is the life force that enables you to be physically active, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned. The beauty is that you have the ability to maximize its quantity and minimize its waste.
Many of the performance demands of everyday work and personal life are tougher than those professional athletes face. Yet we are not trained, as athletes are, to manage our energy. Our body/mind is like a vibrating string that needs constant tuning, much like instruments in an orchestra. Have you ever felt that your “life music” was out of tune? When you maximize your energy usage, you become fully engaged to put forth your best.
To be in tune is to be alive: According to peak performance experts Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of The Power of Full Engagement, the key to skillfully managing your energy is to build rituals and routines into your daily life, as athletes do when they train. When an activity, like creating, is as routine as eating and sleeping, you gain resilience and feel natural and in the flow.
Make a list of energy blocks and drains and begin to create precise and specific behaviors as rituals and routines that you can practice on a daily basis. Over time these practices act like vitamins and nutrients to build the “muscle” that stores the energy you need to meet your daily demands.
Putting it all together: How you invest your thoughts and time affects your available energy. These are intertwined and require regular attention. Whether in projects at work, household chores, or fitness activities, go beyond the force of will-power, discipline, or stamina, and focus on maximizing positive feelings and minimizing effort. Take ownership of your thoughts, time, and energy. Invest wisely by incorporating conscious mindful routines such as meditation into your day. You will feel more in tune to play your life music–more fully engaged in living the life you deserve.
Jacqui Neurauter is a holistic life coach, Integrative Restoration and iRest® Yoga Nidra instructor, and feng shui consultant. Would you like to become a wise investor of your thoughts, time, and energy; manage stress; or address another issue? Learn more about it at HarmoniousPathways.com
“We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves” Alice Bloch
“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.” Leonardo da Vinci
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