By Mary Boutieller
Welcome to the second month of 2018! It’s hard to believe January is already over. New Year’s resolutions are either well underway or already forgotten, and life itself moves forward. It’s amazing how time flies when you are living life one day at a time.
I read a quote recently that stayed with me for several weeks. It went something like this: “How you live every day is how you live your life.” When I read it, it made me think about the importance of how I live each day. Often it is the small, intimate details of our daily interactions and actions that end up being our whole lives. I forget that sometimes.
The sum total of our lives is not defined by the infrequent but big events we experience (although that’s part of it); whole swaths of living happen in between those momentous occasions. And, depending on the lens through which we view it, we can see our day-to-day lives as boring and uneventful, or we can see them as the miracles they are, so rich with opportunity to do the one little thing that can make a difference in someone else’s life. One exquisitely unceremonious day at a time, we get to choose the life we want to live.
Kevyn Aucoin said this: “Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain…To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices—today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”
I love this quote because it’s so true. We can actually embrace our humanity instead of deny it. Does it mean that we shouldn’t strive to be the best human beings we can be? Of course not. But it does mean that we take ourselves out of the box of “perfection or bust” and let ourselves live our messy, lovely lives. On some days, I will laugh at how easy it is for me to go from blissed out yoga girl (imagine that as a super hero!) to fired up and irritated, back to blissed out yoga girl…sometimes in the span of 5 minutes! What’s so cool about this, though, is that now I laugh at my behavior instead of berate and judge myself for not “getting it right.” We don’t have to get it right every single time to get it right most of the time. Why are we so hard on ourselves just for being human? Why do we choose to focus on the negative in ourselves, others and the world around us, and not notice how far we have come?
In an article by Ray Williams in Psychology Today, he says: “In our brains, there are two different systems for negative and positive stimuli. The amygdala uses approximately two-thirds of its neurons to detect negative experiences, and once the brain starts looking for bad news, it is stored into long-term memory quickly. Positive experiences have to be held in our awareness for more than 12 seconds in order for the transfer from short-term to long-term memory.”
Again, depending on how you look at it, you can believe that we are hardwired to look at negative experiences as part of our survival mechanism (which, at some level we are), OR you can realize that if you just focus on a positive experience for 12 SECONDS, that will be stored in long-term memory. I don’t know about you, but I’m going for the 12-second deal! And, I am going to look for and acknowledge the positive as much as possible. I am going to see the glass as half full, the yoga pose that is pretty darn good, the weather that is a whole lot better here than there, and the pimple on my nose not as a blemish but as a good sign of youthful skin!
We can spin it anyway we want, so why not choose the good? Even if you have spent a lifetime looking at and for what needs fixing, notice the habit that it has become and take a few seconds (maybe 12) to look around you for what is already right.
Charles Kuralt said, “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” Don’t let the 99 percent that is good in your life right now be obscured by the 1 percent that isn’t what you would hope it to be. Speak with your family, friends and strangers with love and compassion, even when you disagree. Purposely look for examples of cooperation and generosity in your daily life and incorporate more loving-kindness toward yourself. Celebrate the little successes. We get to choose how we view these precious, amazing lives, one uneventful and powerful day at a time. Small changes done with conviction can change the world.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Herwork experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist.Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health andmovement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels throughawareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.