If you want to experiment with a way to reframe your day from the get-go, think about saying to yourself: "I get to" (you name it) today instead of "I have to."
This advice comes from Jacquelyn Aldana, author of the "Fifteen Minute Miracle," and I've found it can make a tremendous difference in the way my brain processes this ever-important first communication of the day.
Even if it's not a particularly thrilling task, the fact that you signal your brain it's got a choice is a critical element. Saying "I get to" signals this choice, and it can create more positive energy in your system. In the same vein, saying "I prefer" (you name it) instead of "I don't like" (the alternative) allows for more freedom.
When you hear someone comment, "It's just the story of my life," is it usually said after a negative event, or two or three? This phrase can have a profound effect when attached to a positive event as well.
The next time something exciting happens, you could choose to affirm more positive things in your life by saying in a lighthearted way, "It's just the story of my life." What a difference the context makes!
These are just a few fun ways I've found to immediately set a different tone with myself, or to change the channel of that radio station in my head when it gets stuck in a past groove.
Let's fast-forward to the end of an "ordinary" day. What messages do you send yourself as you're getting ready for bed or drifting off to sleep (assuming you haven't already fallen asleep in front of the TV)? Those are the kinds of things that sink into our subconscious minds during the night.
Maybe it's been a particularly challenging time for you lately. There's a lot on your shoulders, and it seems like the world is crashing in on you. Nobody is helping out, and you're carrying the lion's share of the load.
Even if you're plagued by these very real burdens, you may want to sprinkle in some thoughts of "choice." Or look into the unconditional love in your pet's eyes or a favorite photo.
In many of the studies on happiness I've seen, it's not the extraordinary events in our lives that lead to contentment - it's the ongoing, ordinary events.
There are few things in life worse than being trapped or feeling that way. And many of us tend to live in an imaginary prison in our minds at times. Just remember: You hold the key.
Now go out and make it an ordinary day! And treasure it.
Because of the overwhelming response to the column on "replaying negative situations over and over in our minds," I'm gathering additional research on this topic to share. And to the person who called in to Readers' voice and other folks who have asked about the availability of a collection of past columns, I appreciate your requests and kind words, and I'm exploring this. Keep those cards and letters coming so we can continue to learn from each other.
Linda Arnold is a certified wellness instructor and founder and chairman of The Arnold Agency, an integrated marketing communications firm in Charleston. Reader comments or questions may be mailed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mail livinglifefu...@arnoldagency.com.