I'm convinced that working on yourself from the inside out - and I mean working on your mind and emotions here, not the physical stuff - helps MASSIVELY with the adopting and cementing of health habits.
This year I decided the inner work that would be most useful would be to learn to live more in tune with what I call "the Mexican Fisherman principle" (which is based on this story). That involved these three key things:
- not waiting to reach a certain level of success to be happy and content
- learning to live in the moment and appreciate everything that's here and now
- not worrying about the future
The upshot of this inner work has been pretty monumental in terms of happiness, generating a profound sense of contentment and a far more peaceful mind. That in turn had a great impact on my health! So I wanted to share some of the nuts and bolts of how I did what I did.
I didn't use a formal gratitude diary. I did, however, get into the habit of giving thanks in the moment for whatever it is I can be thankful for in that moment. Including - and this was a HUGE game changer for me - those things that you wouldn't normally expect to be happy about, like getting soaked on a Saturday training in the park, losing a client or having an argument.
I learnt this from a great book called E-Squared by Pam Grout. If you can find the gratitude in what would usually be percieved to be negative things, you come to realise there is something to appreciate in everything and even, perhaps, that there are no negative things. Just occurrences that take you on a different path than expected but ultimately, eventually, end up somewhere positive. Things that force you to look at something differently. And actually - and this is key to the trusting in the future bit - you learn there is nothing to worry about.
I even found myself welcoming the disappointments and struggles as learning experiences and great opportunities to practise. Because it's all well and good being grateful when times are good, but if you can do so when they're looking pretty cr*p, you've got the makings of something special, that'll carry you through the dark times.
Another concrete practice that helped with all this was the consistent reading of one particular email series called Notes from The Universe. It is a daily joy, a constant drip feed of the message "everything's going to be ok, dream big, you're safe, keep going." As an example, this was yesterday's:
Never compromise a dream, Tracy.
Do what you must. The fears, beasts, and mountains before you are part of the plan; stepping-stones to a promised land; to a time and place that is so much closer than even you suspect.
Don't let your eyes deceive, Tracy, for even as you read these words, your ship swiftly approaches.
And this is another one I love:
Do you ever just burst out laughing, Tracy, when you suddenly remember that I'm always with you, right by your side, marshalling the troops, summoning legions, moving mountains, and constantly planning for the best of times?
Cool, most sages do.
It sounds a lot to attribute to a little email but NOTHING has ever changed my mindset so effectively as having these messages dropped into my life on a daily basis. Without copying and pasting every email here, I can't adequately explain how mind-altering these emails are. I can only suggest you try them for yourself.
Although it could seem naive considering all the crappy things that happen in the world at large, I do believe that the world is benevolent, that we are truly meant to have happy lives and in this idea:
"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
which is a quote from Hamlet. Shakespeare, huh? Ahead of his time.
I guess those three beliefs provide the premise that makes this pursuit of the Mexican Fisherman principle fairly simple.
As for the health impact, well. This year has been the first year I've been able to completely let go of the controls when it comes to food.
I used to strategise, track, make up rules and a hundred other things to ensure I felt in control and on top of my eating foibles. This year, I let all that go, because as I got to grips with trusting all would be well in my world, I started to relax about food too. I started to trust myself and my body that, after all this time, we probably had this. There was no need for tight reins anymore. Plus, as my emotional keel got ever more even and steady, I started eating well without effort.
It's logical that if you work on the emotions, you'll have a positive impact on the emotional eating. I still eat across the whole spectrum of foods, but I easily spend more time down the whole food, real food end and when I do venture down the processed food, junk food end, I do so without guilt.
Working on yourself from the inside out, mentally and emotionally, helps MASSIVELY with the adopting and cementing of health habits. If you haven't given it a go, perhaps 2016 is the year that you will!