“Feelings are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf” ~ Jonatan Mårtensson
One of the very first books I read after my health scare a few years ago was Dr.Wayne Dyer’s, The Power of Intention. And one of the things that really struck a chord in me was his assertion that no matter what the circumstances of our life may be, we always have the choice to feel good, rather than bad. It’s not always an easy choice, especially when the situation justifies feeling bad, but, according to Dyer, when we can make the shift, no matter how slight, from feeling bad to feeling good, we raise our vibration to a higher level and the Universe will respond in kind.
The tricky part, at least for me, is remembering to notice how I’m feeling at the time that I’m feeling it. Sadly, I think I spend a lot of my day on auto-pilot, not really paying attention when life’s little stresses are getting to me. And if I don’t know they’re there, then I can’t make the shift to something better.
So this week’s topic to ‘Be Aware and Accepting of Your Emotions’ seemed like the perfect opportunity to test Dr. Dyer’s theory out. If I could just discipline myself to tune in more often to how I was feeling every day, then I would be more likely to notice when I was feeling badly, and could shift my thoughts accordingly. And to help keep me on my toes to remember to do this, I tied a string around my finger as a reminder. Every time I noticed the string, I checked in with myself to see how I was feeling. I’m not sure exactly why tying a string around a finger helps, but it certainly did the trick!
Dr. Dyer suggests in his book that, in order to shift our thoughts more easily, we should choose a kind of ‘go-to’, happy thought that we always have on hand for when we catch ourselves in a negative frame of mind:
“Make a conscious choice to select a thought that will activate good feelings…Ultimately you’ll come up with one that you agree makes you feel good, if only temporarily. Your choice might be the thought of a beautiful sunset, the expression on the face of someone you love, or a thrilling experience. It’s only important that it resonate with you emotionally and physically as a good feeling. In the moment of experiencing an anxious or stressful thought, change to the thought you chose, which makes you feel good.”
Ok, so it was really easy to choose my happy thought (i.e. sitting on knoll in Maine, looking out on river). And it was even easy to make the shift to that thought when I was totally stressed about being late to a class because I’d left my purse at home and had to go back for it. I could actually feel my body relax for a second as I thought about sitting on the knoll in Maine rather than about how I late I was. And who knows…maybe making that shift was the reason I ended up getting to my class in time after all.
But I have to admit that it wasn’t so easy to make a similar shift when I found myself really upset by something someone said to me on the phone. I was mad, really mad (which, honestly, doesn’t happen that often!) and no matter how hard I tried to switch from my very angry thoughts to my happy Maine thought, I just couldn’t make it stick long enough to calm me down. I was so sure I was right, and the other person wrong, that my anger felt totally justified. I deserved to be that mad.
But, according to Dr. Dyer, that was really just my pesky ego trying to confuse me and take control. Egos have a way of always wanting to be right, even if it makes us feel bad in the process. To overcome this need to be right, Dyer suggests that we try not to take ourselves so seriously, something he calls ‘Rule Number 6′. He writes:
“When you have the choice to be right or to be kind, pick kind, and push the ego’s demand out of the way. Kindness is what you emanated from, and by practicing it, rather than being right, you eliminate the possibility of stress in your moment of kindness. When you find yourself being impatient with anyone, simply say to yourself: “Rule Number 6,” and you’ll immediately laugh at the piddly little ego that wants you to be first, faster, number one, and to be treated better than the other guy.”
Well, I wish I could say that I practiced ‘Rule Number 6’ and took the high road by calling the person to apologize for my part in the argument, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. And even though I knew such a call would make me feel a whole lot better than I was feeling as I stewed in my self-righteous anger, my ego won out. I chose to feel bad.
So much for raising my consciousness!
Fortunately, though, when I woke up the next day and realized that I was still feeling terrible, I took a deep breath and picked up the phone. And lo and behold, after I fumbled through an apology, the other person apologized too. In fact, she took the blame for the whole sorry mess. I hung up feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and realized that I could have saved myself a lot of angst if I had just picked up the phone a little sooner.
Anyway, I guess what’s really important in life is not necessarily feeling good every single minute. There are always going to be times when we feel stress, or fear, or are just really, really mad because, well, we’re human. But because we’re human, we have the remarkable ability to consciously shift those negative emotions to something more positive – we just have to be aware of how we’re feeling. Because it’s in that awareness that a shift becomes possible.
And the more I am able to make the shift from feeling bad to feeling good, the more the Universe will reflect that good right back to me.
Or, as Dr. Dyer puts it:
“You feel good not because the world is right, but your world is right because you feel good. “
The first time I came across Rule # 6 was in the book “The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life” by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander. I think you might like it.
Benjamin is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. As he states Rule # 6, it is : “Don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously.” I gave all my staff at Marshall Field’s a plaque that sat on their desks that said, Remember Rule # 6! Keep up the good work.
Thanks Paul. I guess I should have credited the Zanders too, cause Dr. Dyer definitely credited them in The Power of Intention. And I am absolutely going to remember Rule #6 when we’re all sitting around the dinner table in Maine next summer talking about the 2012 election! xxxx
I have finally figured this out Peg… Duuhh.. I have been inspired by your facebook posts but never came to the blog.. Now I can follow along as I am walkin right beside you.