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The first step to transform life

Updated: Mar 2

"My Life Is..."

How would you complete the sentence, "My life is..."? Is it a challenge, an adventure, a series of surprises, a journey filled with love, or perhaps a precious gift? The way you frame this statement significantly impacts your perspective.

When you declare your life as a challenge, you set the stage for your brain to seek out obstacles. Conversely, if you affirm your life as a precious gift, your mind actively searches for the blessings woven into your daily tapestry. It may sound too simple, but the impact is profound.

Notice Your Default Attention

Reflect on yesterday, but shift your focus away from what you said about your life. If stress dominates your narrative, pause and recall a moment of pure joy. Does it surface effortlessly, or does it require effort to unearth? Your brain operates on a default setting, a continuous undercurrent of thought shaping your perceptions.

The Conductor of Life

This default setting acts as a silent conductor, orchestrating what your brain discovers within the landscape of your life. If your life is a series of surprises, and the sensation of being out of control overwhelms you, your brain may overlook the elements of stability. It's as if you're navigating a chaotic symphony.

The Default Setting May Not Be Helping You

This default music is something automatically running with a certain frequency and you don't usually notice that it's running. And often, this music doesn't have words to it. Tuning into the frequency of your "default" and getting the words of this music is a skill--a very useful skill when it comes to navigating a mindful, meaningful life. You can do this exercise by writing down the sentences that occur in your mind. You can set a time of 5 to 10 minutes for each day.

This is a skill--that means the more you practice, the easier it becomes. However, it is not easy to bring the sentences out from the place deep down. And sometimes you might feel resistant to do so--when it becomes a confrontation. You might feel shame by labeling the sentences come from weakness, smallness, ugliness, or something negative that you don't appreciate. When you are tempted to feel that way, do not judge yourself. Judging is not the purpose of this exercise. Instead, just notice that the brain has these sentences.

"I am having the thoughts"

As you do this exercise, you'll start to notice certain sentences come out often as your "current reality", casting some shadows on the overall quality of your life. For some of you, these sentences may be predominantly the reasons you feel stuck. Examples of these sentences are "I'm not good enough," "I'm failing," "Nobody understands me," "I'm not as fortunate as others," etc. When those thoughts occur, note that is only a sentence. Make a habit of saying to yourself, "I'm having the thought that ...., " such as "I'm having the thought that I'm not good enough," or "I'm having the thought that nobody understands me," and so on.

Now you are noticing the brain having the thought, which is simply the brain's habit. The brain loves to avoid changes because any changes bring unknown risks, and the brain loves to cling to the old thoughts because the brain can save energy--to make new thoughts a new 'go-to-place' for the brain--the brain literally needs to create new paths--neural pathways.

The brain that wants to "protect you from unknown risks and spending energy" is the primitive brain, and is NOT the whole you. This part of the brain is not hugely different from the brains of other advanced animals. With regards to the human brain, "Our species has a prefrontal cortex totally unlike anything found in other animals," as neuroscientists have been learning. The primitive brain thinks of things as black and white. The sophisticated brain thinks of things in shades of gray. We are multidimensional and delightfully complex. Tapping into this part of the brain allows us to see ourselves from broader perspectives. Becoming aware of what sentences the brain creates without judgment opens up the gate to the transformation.

Practice noticing the sentences the brain tries to make you believe. Do this exercise as if you were watching a movie of the story. Writing the sentences down also is extremely helpful. In the next article, we'll talk about how you can use the awareness.

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