How do you measure your life? In pounds on the scale, or the size tag in your clothes?
Or do you measure your life in extraordinary experiences, beautiful moments, or how many times you laughed today?
There was a time in my life when all I cared about was how much I weighed. Each day was consumed with how much I could or couldn’t eat. I missed so many social events because I didn’t like the way I looked.
So much energy wasted.
So many tears shed in self-hate.
So many potentially great memories that were never made because I stayed home, swimming in self-induced shame.
Looking back, I have compassion for my former self. I didn’t know how to measure my life beyond my weight. But as Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”
If you are ready to stop measuring your life in pounds, let me share with you the tool that helped me to broaden such a narrow form of measurement:
A Gratitude Journal.
Get yourself a pretty journal and a pen you like to write with. At the end of each day, write down at least three things that you were grateful for. It could be something beautiful you noticed in nature, or a moment of kindness between you and another human being, or something about yourself that you were proud of that day.
I invite you to be really consistent with this practice. If you know that you are going to be writing down three things you’re grateful for at the end of the day, this trains your brain to automatically look things to be grateful for. This completely shifts how you look at your life—and how you participate in it.
Become a Collector of Good.
Become a person who is always on the lookout for the good in her world, and for the good in herself.
And THINK BIGGER!
You are so much more than what you weigh.
Focus on what you want your life to look like, not just your body.
No one wants to look back on their life and see that they had missed it because their view was limited to a tiny window on a bathroom scale.
You don’t need to wait until 2016 to start this practice. Holiday time is the perfect time to begin noticing what’s great in your life. There is an abundance of goodness happening all around you if you decide to look for it.
You can also start creating amazing memories to add to your collection. Say YES to invitations; attend that party you were on the fence about; or host a get-together at your place with friends you love to spend time with. People don’t care what you look like; they want to spend time with YOU, not your looks. Don’t let another opportunity to make a great memory go by.
Happy Collecting! May your heart and your Gratitude Journal always be full.
The day after Thanksgiving I put up my Christmas tree. Five strands of lights and a couple of boxes of ornaments later, I was done and very pleased with the outcome.
The next evening when I went to plug in the lights, I noticed one of the five strands had gone out. The thought of taking it all down to fix the strand did not seem appealing, so I moved a couple of the live strands around to fill in some of the holes. To me it looked okay and I went on with my evening.
By the next evening, it began to bother me that the tree was “just okay.” I became restless, as I could no longer ignore the dead strand of lights that wound around the tree. This holiday comes only once a year and it made no sense to settle for less than awesome. I decided to get a big box from the basement and began taking all of the ornaments down so that I could remove the strands of lights in order to fix the one that had gone out.
I sat on the floor, patiently testing each bulb until I found the one that wasn’t working. It was such a thrill when I found it and the whole strand lit up again when I put a fresh bulb in. While I was at it, I checked the other strands, too, and replaced several bulbs until all the strands were shining their brightest.
I put the strands back on the tree; then re-hung all of the ornaments. Suddenly the tree looked extra amazing! Fixing the one strand that was down, plus the addition of the other replacement bulbs made the tree shine brighter than ever before.
While the whole process of dismantling the tree to check the lights took some time and effort, it was so worth it to have created an outcome that I am now able to fully delight in.
Are you are settling for “just okay” somewhere in your life? You’ll know that you are because your own light will be dimmed. You can go on living this way, shuffling around the light you have left to hide the holes in your tree, but you know the holes are there. You can never lie to yourself and get away with it.
If you’re reading this and a truth-bomb just went off in your head, maybe it’s time to address it. Perhaps the best gift you could give yourself this holiday is investing the time and effort in finding out why you’re settling for less and then changing the thinking that’s causing you to do so.
Think of your brain as a strand of lights and your thoughts are the bulbs. Locate the thoughts that don’t serve you and replace them with thoughts that do. When you think thoughts that serve you, you’ll feel better; you’ll take appropriate actions; and you’ll create better outcomes for yourself. The truer you are to yourself, the brighter your light will naturally shine.
But first, you are going to have to believe that you deserve better and I am here to remind you that you do.
You deserve better than “just okay.”
You deserve the effort it will take to change the story you’re telling yourself that’s making you settle for less. That old story is a lie. The truth is that you are worthy of the best in all things great and small.
Listen, just as the holidays come around only once a year, YOU come around only once a lifetime.
You only get this one life to live.
It makes no sense to settle for less than awesome.
About a month ago, I started a new album on Facebook called “The Cats I Meet on My Walk.” Almost every day I add to it because it seems that I’ve moved beyond my role as the Thought Whisperer to now include Cat Whispering. Cats who have never met me before come running up to me to get some loves and rubs. Over time, I have collected a few regulars. Toby, the big orange cat with the cleft palate is probably my biggest fan. He is usually the last cat I see as I head up the street towards my car.
Last week I was passing Toby’s house and I didn’t see him. I was almost to the top of the hill when I finally spotted him sleeping on a slope in the sunshine. I thought it was the sweetest thing! I started snapping photos with my phone as I normally do, moving closer and closer with each one. I stopped at about ten feet away to take in how content he was. And then I saw it…
Standing right above Toby on the other side of the fence was a small deer. She was just as interested in the cat as I was, but she must have froze as I walked closer. I didn’t even see her at first because I was so focused on Toby. She was right in front of me the whole time. Had I not looked up, I would have missed her. I stood there enjoying both of them for a full five minutes, until she decided it was safe to move and she walked away into the trees. Wow. What an awesome experience.
I believe in signs and messages from the Universe. After the deer left, I asked what her message was. This is what I heard:
“Broaden your view. There’s more to life than just what’s in front of you.”
How many times are we so focused on one thing that we miss what else is around us? This makes me think of the weight struggle and how singularly focused we can be on what we weigh. We design our day around it for goodness sake!
“I should eat this”.
“I shouldn’t eat that”.
“What am I going to wear today?”
“Does this make me look fat?”
We’re so busy focusing on our weight that we’re often missing out on life.
And there is so much beauty and goodness to drink in if we just looked up and noticed it.
The interesting thing about that is that for my clients who practice shifting their focus to noticing the good that’s already in their lives, their need to focus on their weight naturally begins to fall away. By broadening their view, they soon find that they don’t need to look a certain way or be at a certain weight to feel happy.
Then the ironic thing happens: When a woman shifts her focus from her weight to how much joy she can create for herself each day, she feels so good that her weight tends to shift on its own without much thought or effort.
For this week, I invite you to keep a journal and write down three awesome things you noticed each day. It could be anything—a beautiful sunset; something amazing that happened at work; even the crinkle of a loved one’s nose when they laugh. Broaden your view to include anything that lights you up! If you have more than three, include those as well.
At the end of the week, read back over your journal entries and see how you feel. If you enjoyed this practice, I invite you to keep going. By doing this day after day, you train your brain to automatically look for the good in your life. Not only does this lift your mood, it tends to reduce emotional eating, too.
You get to choose what you focus on each day.
Your weight? Or the goodness in your life?
What is it going to be for you today?