It’s a Dreary, Dreary Day …
Written on April 8, 2008 by Dr. Laurie
It's a dreary day outside my windows. Chilly rain and fog fill the landscape. Nothing feels cozy — rather it is forbidding weather, when it becomes easy to say, "What a lousy day! I don't feel well at all."
Some of my clients tell me that this kind of weather makes their joints hurt more. Once we start in this direction, our thoughts continue a downward spiral bringing in all the other things that are going badly.
Now another perspective would take the same scene and focus my eyes on the daffodils poking up, the tinge of pink and red and yellow on the tips of the branches that is so much more obvious on a dark day. It may be cold here but it's at least 20 degrees warmer than it has been. When I focus on those details of the day, my spirits lift, and I feel a little more energy.
Where we focus our attention has an effect on our energy level. What we focus on creates more — or less — of the fizzy brain chemicals that help us feel better. When we create fewer brain chemicals, we can perpetuate and deepen a mental and physical low.
Our bodies and our thoughts are inextricably linked, and that link creates a feedback loop.
When we live with daily pain, or worry about worsening medical symptoms, it is easy to focus on what hurts, and the limitations we feel. It is a simple step from those feelings to begin to feel out of control of what is happening, and maybe even to think of ourselves as victims of circumstance.
Then we will notice things that reinforce those feelings and thoughts and presto! … a perfect feedback loop.
Changing our focus is challenging, but the reality of our inner architecture is that we are in charge of that two-and-a-half pounds of grey tissue on top of our bodies. We can monitor what goes in — and we can play with what we look at, and to what we pay attention.
Begin with a simple shift in what you look at from your favorite chair. Instead of angling towards the television, or that dusty spot on the bookshelf, why not face outside? Or put a lovely flower, or picture of an outside scene that you love where you see it first thing.
Change what you look at — vary the colors, pictures and views. Without variety we habituate ourselves even to the most striking sights and no longer see them. Then the effect is lost.
Remind yourself to focus — keeping a journal, putting up cartoons or notes, asking a friend to help you remember to monitor where you are putting your attention.
These are small bite-sized steps that can make a difference in the kind of energy you bring to your day and your life. You can lift your energy by focusing on something you love. Choose a memory of something wonderful — or read a passage that inspires you from a favorite book. Try this and see what kind of change it makes in your outlook!