For most of my adult life, I have been fascinated by the human mind. How it impacts our behaviour and how we in turn impact and shape our own minds. For me, this fascination will be a lifelong journey. My learnings and insights on the human mind so far have come from my own life experiences, my adventure trips, my training as a performance coach, my study of psychology as well as various psychometric assessments that I have trained to use. However, the more I learn, the more I realise I have yet to learn, which is why I know I will be on this learning journey for the rest of my life.
One thing I have learned is that we as human beings have an incredible gift which is the ability to rewire our brains. Through the brain’s neuroplasticity, we can literally change the circuitry in our brains and in the process begin to alter our state of mind to one that better serves us. One simple way in which we can do this is through the language we use each day. When I say language, I mean both the spoken word and indeed the internal narrative that we tell ourselves. Sometimes this internal narrative is beyond our conscious mind. Routed in our subconscious, the language that makes up this narrative can itself be routed in deep seated beliefs that might no longer serve us.
When it comes to shaping my own mindset each day, I have a morning routine where I try to literally set my “mental tone” for the day. I know on the days where I “win my mornings” and practice my routine, my experience of the day is always that bit better than when I don’t. My routine is made up of hot water and lemon, stretching, meditation and also involves visualisation and positive affirmations. Positive affirmations are simple sentences I use that describe the type of person I want to be each day and how I intend to show up during the day ahead. These affirmations don’t need to be confined to the morning. They can also be used during the day and can take different forms. For example, setting your password on your laptop can be a simple affirmation. You don’t necessarily need to say the words every time you enter it but as you are typing the affirmation, it is registering in your mind. My current password is “live on purpose”, which is a simple reminder to be very purposeful with how I spend my time. You might have an affirmation you could use that is relevant for you at the moment.
So what has any of this got to do with the Coronavirus I hear you say? (my hearing is very good – really 🙂 One simple thing we have been advised to do by health professionals is to wash our hands regularly and when doing so, to wash them for 15 seconds before rinsing. I’ve heard a few people on the radio say that you can time the 15 seconds by singing “happy birthday”. I timed this recently and it’s actually fairly accurate if you sing it at a relatively slow pace.
About 2 weeks ago, it struck me that the act of washing my hands in this way is an opportunity to slow down and have a mindful moment for those 15 seconds. To somewhat “be” in that moment, feel the sensation of the soap and water on my hands, feel my hands rubbing together and to simply be that bit more present. Earlier this week, as I found myself singing happy birthday for the millionth time, I thought why not sing something else that could actually be a bit more useful. My birthday is less than a month away but I think it’s probably a bit much to be singing it to myself every day at this stage. So, I decided to put my own words to the tune of happy birthday that could prime my own state of mind. The thinking here is simply use words that evoke a sense of how I want to show up and “be” during the day. For me, this is what I’m using at the moment:
“Make the most of today,
Make the most of today,
Live on purpose, be intentional,
Because you won’t get this day again”
This is just a simple reminder to me to live each day well because I will never get the day back again. Why not give this a try for the next week and see how it impacts your own state of mind!