Studying the patterns of daily life
This morning provided an excellent opportunity for me to study my expectations, habits, mind states and reactive conditioning.
Let me tell you what happened.
- I lent a roommate my travel mug yesterday and when I wanted to use it at 6:15 this morning I couldn’t find it. I felt frustrated and like I don’t want to help out other people or lend out my belongings.
- In the large change room at the fitness center with only three people in it one woman entered and chose the locker beside me to use. She didn’t acknowledge me, didn’t say hello, excuse me or make eye contact. She was physically very close to me but kept her back to me and continued talking to her friend. I felt invaded.
- I tried to engage a co-worker and she gave me an indifferent look and walked away. I felt slighted and dismissed.
- Another co-worker made a comment about my putting away clean dishes in the workplace coffee-room , ‘there she is doing her things again’. I felt belittled.
Wow, all this internal drama in the space of 2 hours! Oh but wait, there is more.
- A person at the fitness center asked how my workout was. I felt cared for.
- A staff member helped me decide what level of membership to renew at. I felt well served and listened to.
- Another person struck up a friendly conversation. I felt cared for and interested in.
- At the work place a co-worker said good morning and engaged in friendly banter. I felt seen and included.
- Another co-worker answered my question. I felt respected.
- My housemate apologised for leaving my travel mug in a place where I couldn’t find it this morning. I felt heard and respected.
So what did I remember first? The experiences that I found unpleasant. At first I thought I could write a country song titled, “The folks that did me wrong”. The unpleasant or negative experiences came much quicker to mind than the neutral or pleasant ones. It takes more energy for me to write the love song version of my morning titled, “I am so lucky”. Yet the love song feels so much better.
An exercise to try: How do you recall the events in your day?
Check in with your own experience. Which events in your day do you recall, and are you aware of replaying them in your mind? When we repeat thoughts, ideas and stories about our life it makes them stronger and more entrenched as our reality.
But when I can say to myself, “Hold on a minute. My morning wasn’t only unpleasant experiences.” I am rebuilding myself and how I experience life. I can activate some energy and intentionally recall the neutral or pleasant events that also happened this morning. This makes the pleasant experiences more prevalent in my mind.
This is a kind of conscious living practice that makes me feel better the moment I do it. It helps my relationships with others because I am more likely to engage in the next encounter from a more wholesome state of mind. And it also builds my ability to do it again in the future, more quickly and with more ease. A little consciousness, a little energy, and a willingness to interfere with habitual patterns results in a much better mind state and a much better day.
Maureen Smith (MSW, RCSW) is a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator and a Registered Clinical Social Worker practicing in Eastern BC. She is the Founder of Alive Mindfully, teaching meditation and mindfulness to people from all walks of life.