On life recently…
…well, it feels hashtag blessed. This is mainly because I have been training myself to see it this way.
Let me tell you for why…
2023 has been quite the majestic year. I have been to multiple countries, taught the yoga classes and retreats I dreamed of, started helping more people 1:1, had some great nights out and got a season ticket for Lancashire Cricket Club so I could while away slow weekend afternoons to the sound of leather on willow.
Really, it has been something.
Initially my intention for the year was to stay present. With all the excitement coming up it would be challenging not to get swept away in chasing the next thing. What I found around the changing of the seasons however, was that I was present, but the next task no longer had the sparkle of adventure, rather an almost impending sense of doom. That is a bit too dramatic, not like dread or world ending drama; life just became more of a checklist. I even titled this era my ‘And Then I’ve Gotta…Era’, because that was heavily salting my responses to anyone asking me what I was up to.
Looking at the architecture of that response was annoying. As a student of language and NLP methods, this sentence to does not inspire joy. I tried some of the tools in my word box; flipping it to ‘I get to go to this party’, ‘I get to take this class’, ‘I get to teach this class’, but it was not working. And the mental part is that I do get to do what I want! I am my own boss and I live independently - I really can do whatever I want whenever I want to! So why the bloody hell didn’t it feel like it?
The most first world of problems, isn’t it! A prisoner of my own making. I feel like such a twat saying it, but it is true. Sometimes, the life we love gets hard and weird. And in a world where we are constantly bombarded imagery and instancy it is surprisingly easy to get persuaded to be jaded.
So in the spirit of ‘Not Today, Victim Mentality’, I tried to help myself and did what I always do - I went to Yoga! I had not really practiced much recently so I figured that would be the kicker I needed. I got to the studio, my friend teaching I asked me how I was, to which I responded ‘oh you know, working a lot’. They looked at me, smiled and said, ‘this is not work’. I pondered how many studios had barred
students for roundhouse kicking the teacher, but decided against it and went to practice. It was great, but I still wasn’t…ya know…horny for life as I once had been.
At a party, I was talking to a very close and highly respected friend about this. I told her I had lost my mojo, how much of a dick I felt, and how I wanted, needed, to get my sparkle back. She told me about a book, The Magic, by the same author who had written The Secret, which I had never read but knew people who were emphatic about it at the time. She told me it had a 28 day plan with little tasks to do. I liked it. So off I went on my sister’s Amazon account (thanks Charlie), bought the book and an accompanying notebook, so I could not use the excuse that I needed to buy a new one before starting.
The Magic is all about gratitude. Before you can bring something in, you have to be grateful for what you have. When you become grateful for what you have, you feel more abundant, and thus abundance flows to you. This was exactly what I needed - I was all in.
Step one; Wake up and write down ten things you are grateful for. Based on the groans of the Wallop family when I shared this with them, I was clearly not alone in finding this a bit of a challenge.
I looked around my bedroom…well, my bed is pretty good, I’ll start with that…I glanced at my yoga pants on the chair…well yeah, my job is great so that too…I’m going to ballet later, that’s nice…and this cup of coffee is really good this morning…
Brilliant, I had 4. Next step, add in a ‘because’, which I know from coaching creates 100% more buy in.
Ok; I am grateful for my bed because it is dead comfy and I built it myself which is cool. I am grateful for my job because it is my dream job and I get to do cool shit every day. I am grateful for my ballet class because I am a 35 year old car-owning-tax-payer and I still get to get my leotard on of a Monday lunchtime. I am grateful for this coffee because isn’t that first coffee of the day just top…
I looked around the room and at the messages on my phone and soon found people and situations to help me finish the list. And at the end I felt, well, really nice.
Each day presented a new thing to be grateful for, from the money in your bank or lack there of coz you’d spent it, to the food you eat, to the trees and the sky. I quickly found myself walking to my 6am gym class being grateful for the bins and the city’s waste management system, which was interesting but also it is actually very good to have infrastructure that keeps the bins emptied. Even though I had the most rotten cold, I was grateful for the fact that I could still get up and do what I needed to do, which oscillated between resilience and stupidity but I am grateful for both.
Life got easier very quickly. On a second-gear-rush-hour crawl from town to Didsbury, I was grateful I had gotten an extra 45 minutes of Test Match Special in as opposed to annoyed that everyone else was driving when I had decided to. When my credit card bill came, I was grateful that someone was generous (or mental) enough to give me credit, and that I had the cash to pay some of it back. The things that bothered me about my partner were not the end of the world, rather opportunities for self study and gratitude for his cute lil butt. To the highly British cynic, as I can often be, it sounds fucking tacky, but you know what - it works.
I got stuck around day 14 of the tasks, but kept the morning practice of ten things and the evening practice of being thankful for one special moment. I am now back in the swing of it, and I am confident that at the end of the 28 days I will still carry on these practices to top and tail my day.
Your mind is a muscle, and just like you can train your body for back squats or running or handstands, you can train your mind to believe that you are blessed. It is the essence of faith in a way.
And to look around at the absolute shit show of the wider world, if you are holding something in your hand or on your lap with which you can read this, inside a structurally sound building with nobody trying to bomb you, you really are doing well.
So if you are feeling stuck, give the ten things a try for a few days, see what happens, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Oh and by the way, I really am utterly grateful for you xoxo