Nothing seemed to be going right. My Internet gave up in the middle of a Zoom meeting, my dog – a rescue mutt still learning the house rules – peed on a freshly washed towel hanging over a chair, and the work gig I was so confident would come through, didn’t.
A friend listened patiently to my litany of complaints, and then asked; “OK, I hear you, so what will you be brave about today?”
“What is wrong with you?” I exclaimed. “Did you listen to a word I said?”
“Absolutely,” my friend replied, in a kind, compassionate tone, “which is why I’m asking you; what will you be brave about today?”
“I don’t know. Nothing. Whatever.” And the conversation ended on that rather unpleasant note.
My friend’s question gave me pause. I thought about Nora Barton, who, at 96, fulfilled the dream she had since she first started singing as a child – to perform at the London Palladium.
Despite Nora having Alzheimer’s, she was featured to great acclaim on “Britain’s Got Talent” as she sang “The Loveliest Night of the Year” with her 65-year-old daughter, Pam, accompanying her on the piano.
Nora’s spectacular ability to hit and sustain the high notes required by the song brought her thunderous applause from the audience and judges alike.
What courage it must have taken Nora to continue to practice and hone her voice all through the years! What bravery it must have taken for her, a 96-year-old with Alzheimer’s, to dare audition for “Britain’s Got Talent,” given the scant odds of actually making it in front of the judges?
Yet Nora did. And although she may have never posed the question to herself “What will I be brave about today?” her accomplishment reflects her constant answer. Nora would be brave about whatever it took to fulfill her dream.
As I reflected on Nora and her courage, I realized that how I continued to experience the woes of my day was entirely up to me. Sure, the events had happened, but did I really need to carry them with me through the rest of my week? No.
I decided that what I would be brave about was what I did going forward. I decided to reframe the events as learning experiences in the ongoing journey of my life. Almost immediately, my mood lightened.
I decided to use the Internet failure as an opportunity to review my Internet service and see if my current plan still met my needs.
I decided not to put freshly washed items within sniffing range of my sweet puppy.
I decided to be more proactive in stimulating new business.
I got brave, and with that, I became empowered to do more and do better.
In other words, I used cognitive behavioral techniques on myself. Cognitive behavioral therapy is predicated on changing or transforming unhelpful thoughts into thoughts that help us do better, feel better. It’s not denial of reality. It’s choosing to look differently at whatever the reality is.
The wonder of cognitive behavioral technique isn’t only how it improves our mental and emotional outlook, recent research shows how such thought transformation also improves the functioning of our immune system, which is critical to our overall health and longevity.
So, treat yourself to double goodness. Look at the issues and challenges of your everyday life, big or small, through the lens of “What will I be brave about today?” and change woeful thinking into positive resolution.
With that, both body and mind will benefit, and you will reap the rewards of a more satisfying happy, healthy life.
What kinds of negative thoughts keep coming up for you? Do you have an example in your life of turning negative thinking about a situation into something positive? Please share your stories with the community!