After a fulfilling morning spent with friends at a small group session, I hopped in the car with my youngest and headed to pick up my other daughter from her preschool. I was listening to the radio and bouncing along with the music when a squirrel darted in front of my car. Unable to swerve, I unavoidably hit the squirrel. It’s always hard to experience death, no matter what little creature it was and I felt sad about the loss of this little squirrel. I said ‘oh no!” and looked back in my rearview mirror hoping that what I thought happened is not what actually happened. My daughter in the back said, “why you say ‘oh no’ mommy?’. I told her that hit a squirrel and she quietly responded ‘oh’, reflecting my sentiments exactly.
When I picked up my oldest daughter from school, I told her about the squirrel I hit. She said, “I know that made you sad. Do you want to know what I would do if I hit a squirrel? I would be sad that I hit that squirrel, but then I would look at all the other squirrels that I didn’t hit that are happy and playing and that would make me happy again.”
There is so much in life that can distract us from happiness. It’s not that we want to ignore low feelings like sadness, grief, regret, or anger, but we also cannot afford to live a life that focuses on them. When we do, we cannot offer our best self to pursue our life purpose, goals, and desires, nor can we give our best self to others, our career, or our family. We also negatively affect our body when we dwell inside those negative emotions. When those negative feelings stay longer than they should, they create a chronic stress response in our body that increases inflammation, raises our blood pressure, hardens our arteries, limits our sleep, messes up our digestive tract and wreaks havoc on our immune system.
Are there negative emotions that you continue to entertain? Begin to intentionally shift your eyes to the happiness around you. Find the squirrels chasing one another up and down a tree, around a park bench or munching on an acorn. Shift your attention to shift your emotions. It takes work. But, it’s worth it.
Need an idea on where to start? When negative thoughts about your body pop up in your mind, pause, then say the reverse out loud. For example, if you look in the mirror and naturally think, ‘ugh, my thighs are huge!”, think of something positive about your thighs, like “I’m thankful for my thighs, they’re strength allows me to…”.