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Right now as I write this it is May 2020 and we are well underway with the global pandemic of Covid-19. Many of us are still staying home as much as possible even as many states start to open up after weeks of shelter in place orders. The world seems unpredictable and frightening. February 2020 almost seems like a world from another lifetime.
And for many of us our minds may be our biggest enemy right now. Everywhere we turn, whether it’s the news, social media, even with our friends and family the focus is often on how terrible things are going to turn out. How the economy is wrecked, how tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of people are going to become seriously ill and possibly die, how many have died already. And that stuff is real. It’s true. I’m not asking you to become delusional.
But I am asking you to consider whether or not you can choose to believe something different.
We tend to think of our beliefs like seaweed that washes up on the beach of life and wraps around our ankles and there’s nothing we can do about it. It just shows up and attaches itself to us. Instead, consider that our beliefs may be more like a bonsai tree that we carefully cultivate and nurture faithfully for years. And we create the beauty of that bonsai tree because of our deliberate decision to care for it.
“There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Much like the Red Queen in Alice’s story, we believe the impossible at least six times before breakfast. When we get into our cars to drive to work or the store or the beach we believe that we will arrive at our destination without incident or accident. But in 2019 an estimated 38,800 people in the United States alone died in traffic accidents and likely many hundreds of thousands more were involved in non-fatal traffic accidents that year as well.
If we can believe in our safety of the interstate highway system we can believe many other things that help improve our outlook on life, especially in the time of Covid-19.
We can consciously choose to believe things like:
- My family will be okay
- We can make ourselves unlikely to contract Covid-19 by washing our hands, avoiding touching our faces, and disinfecting the surfaces around us
- This time of sheltering in place is an amazing opportunity to catch up on books I’ve always wanted to read
- Technology is helping reach out to old friends in a way I never would have thought of before and I have the time to do it
- I can focus on improving my cardiovascular health with daily walks or I can eat fruit and vegetables daily
- I am grateful for this opportunity to improve my cooking skills since I’m not going out to eat at restaurants
- I believe that the economy will bounce back quickly
- I believe that if my income fluctuates I can figure out how to pay my bills and make do with less
- I believe that I am an agile business owner and my company can pivot and retain as many employees as possible
- I believe that if one of my loved ones or I need hospitalization there will be sufficient staff and equipment for my care
- I believe that if one of my loved ones dies, my family will be okay
- If I die, my family will mourn me but they will make it through
Now not all of these things may come to pass. But much like the automobile accidents example, believing in an outcome makes our life infinitely more pleasurable and productive. If the worst comes or even if it has already come for you or your family nothing would have been gained by stressing and ruminating and planning for it ahead of time.
So how do we choose conscious beliefs? How do we change the programming in our brain from believing whatever scary bit of news washes up in our view?
I’m certainly not an expert, but I have a few thoughts.
Ideas for Choosing Conscious Beliefs
- Practice media distancing. Turn off the TV, get off social media, even steer the conversation with your mother away from another Covid-19 rumor.
- Meditate. See the world healing, see the world changing for the better, see yourself growing your business, your children going back to school, see yourself getting an amazing job offer.
- Journal. Sometimes you just need to get all of the junk out of your head and onto paper. Feel free to rip it into shreds or burn the pages filled with worries and let them go.
- Write affirmations. But only ones you can actually imagine yourself believing. Don’t write “I believe that world peace will arrive in 2021” if you can’t picture it. If you need to start with something small: “I believe that I can smile about one thing today”
- Create a vision board. Envision a future so bright you’ve gotta wear shades.
- Talk with a close friend or family member. Brainstorm and come up with a few things that you can both believe and encourage each other when things feel overwhelming.
- Take care of yourself. Sleep, move your body, eat nutritious foods, breathe, laugh, connect with friends and family
- Breathe. Deep breaths actually improve your immune system (and who can’t use that right about now?) as well as relaxing you.
- Do something. Instead of stay at home worrying and stressing about how terrible the state of the world is, get involved. Donate money, volunteer your time, or just spread joy and laughter on social media. It doesn’t matter what you do, just be intentional and lift someone else up.
- Spend time with a child. Children are ninja-level masters at believing stuff that adults think are nuts or impossible. Get in touch with the child in you again.
- Practice. I said it was simple, I didn’t say it was easy. Do you think changing the mindset of an entire lifetime happens overnight??
- Give yourself a break. Sometimes the fear and worry will overwhelm you. It doesn’t mean that you’re broken or incapable of change, that just makes you a member of the human race. Just don’t decide to set up shop there.
Do you believe that you can change your conscious beliefs? Do you have other ideas for cultivating new, more intentional beliefs? If so, let me know in the comments below.
Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.Charles Dudley Warner
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