I saw an English translation of this cartoon* in my social media feed just after New Year’s and the message really hit home for me. It was timely, and I needed to hear it. Here’s the adapted translated text:
Why so optimistic about 2017? What do you think it will bring?
-I think it will bring flowers
Yes? How come?
-Because I am planting flowers
-From JM Nieto’s original cartoon
For many years now, I’ve been fairly even-keeled and my usual state can border on being too optimistic. Last summer and fall, however, I found myself feeling dragged down into to the mire of the political happenings. You see, while I live in Canada, I’m originally from the US and am from a mainly right-wing conservative family. You might guess where this is going…
I surprised myself by losing my footing. My positive outlook felt like it was crumbling into negativity, divisive feelings, judgment, and pretty much all around hopelessness about the state of things.
And of course I kept forgetting to tap!
Towards the end of 2016, I decided that I was sick and tired of feeling that way, and I started to wake up and remember that only I could change how I felt about it all. A gift fell into my lap in the form of a wonderful book – Peace Begins with Me by Ted Kuntz. I even had the good fortune of meeting the author, since he lives here in the Vancouver, BC area (more on this book in a future newsletter…!).
It was exactly what I needed at that time, like a soothing balm for my prickly emotional state.
When I happened upon the cartoon about planting flowers, it was a simple, straightforward truth that I was ready to hear, remember and embrace.
There was still more to do, however. Here are some of the things that have really helped me to shift my mood back to a much more balanced, grounded and positive mindset.
Setting a clear intention for my desired state. I set a very strong, clear intention that 2017 would be amazing and joyful, and then I let it go without attaching a lot of how to it. That being said, there were some actions needed to support this intention.
Taking empowered positive action where appropriate. While I knew that I certainly wouldn’t be able to change all the things and situations that bothered or upset me, I looked into what actions I actually could take. Doing this has helped me to feel good about doing something, even if it is a seemingly small thing, it is still something. Phone calls about political issues to my representatives, signing petitions, supporting causes I believe in – anything that involves doing something. I have found this incredibly helpful to dispel feelings of powerlessness.
Making choices about what to consume. News, television, magazines, social media – I’m not saying to cut this out and become an ostrich. I’m a realist and I do want to stay informed and connected. I have found, however, that limiting this to some degree has been extremely helpful. Choosing what sources and how much time to spend on it can be a very conscious practice.
Tapping, tapping, tapping. When I do find that I’m triggered at all by reading or hearing news, I simply tap. This might be while I’m in the midst of it (read and tap!) or afterwards when I notice a dip in my energy or mood. Regular tapping has really helped me with this! It’s a very quick way to get back to a sense of equilibrium no matter what is going on around you.
Recognizing that it is always my choice how I respond. Always. There’s just no way around this one. A thing happens and I can choose to blame it for how I feel OR I can recognize that I always have a choice about it.
Connecting with others and talking. While I don’t recommend commiserating with others ad nauseam about anything, including health, politics, getting older, relationship problems, etc., I have found it very helpful to share feelings with others to remember that we are never alone in any of it. Sometimes just knowing that there are others who share values or experiences can give me the warm fuzzies. I have to admit when I was in the yuckiest part of this last fall, that I probably bent too many an ear airing my hopeless feelings at the time. I have curtailed this by choosing to simply not dwell on it so much. Finding something else to talk about that is neutral or positive is just way more fun. Plus, hanging out with others can lead to hugs, which is all good for me!
Focusing on meaningful, joyful stuff. So what to do with all that time I’d been spending mulling over everything that was wrong? Well, I turned my focus towards the things that nourish me. My clients, my business, my new projects, spending time with people I adore. Watching and reading things that are more inspiring. Continuing to learn. Doing more of all of this not only leaves less time for the negative stuff to enter my thoughts, but it builds up more positive feelings and reminds me of all the great stuff that is happening and that I’m participating in.
Practicing gratitude. This is one of the biggest, most important actions I take. And quite frankly, I have found that it is the absolute quickest route to feeling better about pretty much anything. Daily gratitude – out loud, while you’re walking, with your family or friends, writing it down – any way you like to express gratitude, just do it. It’s like taking an instant positivity drug.
Choosing responses. Now I’d be lying if I said that I never get bothered about what’s going on in the world. At times when I let myself go down that rabbit hole, I can get pretty darned fired-up about it all (ask any of my friends!). For my level of happiness and peace to stay balanced, however, if I notice something that bothers me about this, I acknowledge it, notice my reaction or response to it, and then make a choice about how I want to deal with it. If I notice a negative reaction kicking in, I start tapping on it, or I give myself permission to have a good rant and then be done with it. That seems to do the trick for me, especially if I tap afterwards (or during, if possible). Everyone is different, so what works for me may or may not work for you.
These are the things that have really helped me through it all. Throughout these past months, I’ve often remembered the little cartoon about planting flowers. The message still guides me. I planted some clear intentions about what I wanted for 2017 and am happy to report that I’ve been reaping the benefits of them since. It has already been a wonderful year, and we’re not even halfway through it.
In fact, I have decided that this will be my best year yet.
It’s already appearing to be just that. How about you? What if, even if you’ve begun with a rocky start, you could reset your intention to plant some flowers for the rest of the year? Heck, it’s only May. You certainly still could plant something.
What if this could be your best year yet?
I don’t know about you, but I’m setting that intention loud and clear. I hope you will too.
*The artist JM Nieto generously gave permission for me to provide a link to the original cartoon but not to publish it, since alternative medicine is not his thing.