“At any given moment, you have the power to say: This is not how the story is going to end.” ~Chris Mason Miller
I was faced with an impossible problem, so like all the great thinkers throughout history, I shut myself in the bathroom and vowed not to come out until I had solved the problem.
It had plagued me for two-and-a-half years, and for seven years—the length of time during I’d lost my voice for and had suffered from chronic tendonitis respectively.
Such was the consequence of an obsessive guitar habit, one that saw me practicing up to fourteen hours in a single day as I worked my way through three years of my Bachelor of Jazz Performance Degree.
I never made it to year four, the year I would have graduated. Year three had seen my pain increase to the point that I only played my instrument at performances and in classes requiring it.
On my own, I practiced in my head, imagining both my instrument and the sounds it would produce.
I developed a strong imagination alongside a strong case of tendonitis.
But at the end of that year, my body quit. Shut down. It got so bad that I ended up unable to drive or hold a knife and fork. I even ended up having a friend push me around the Chicago Museum of Science in a wheelchair because the muscular dysfunction had become a whole-body issue.
So there I was, several years later, with no voice and no use of my arms.
I’d seen doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists, and all manner of other people who poked and prodded and tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I’d tried all the treatments, taken all the advice, and done plenty of my own research.
None of it had worked.
So that sunny afternoon in June, I turned to the only resource I had left…
How To Run Your Mind
There are only two ways to change the quality of our lives: change the quality of the events, or change our perception of the events. Most of us opt for the former. I’d been doing this for the last seven years.
Now, it was time to try out the other option. We can all change the way we perceive events by changing the words we use when we talk to ourselves. There were three phrases in particular that gave me my life back; they have untold power to have a positive impact in yours.
1. I am here.
This phrase saved my life. When we fight long and hard, trying to escape our pasts or reach our futures, we inhibit our ability to find joy, contentment, and inner peace in the present.
And this is the only place where we can ever have it.
When we ground ourselves in the here and now with a phrase like “I am here,” and put all our intent and focus into the words, we become accepting of where we are. We cease to judge ourselves as good or bad, as a success or failure. We are simply where we are. And that’s okay.
The seriousness of what we’ve gone through and the gravity of whatever we’re trying to achieve diminishes, and we’re able to safely and securely assess our current situation and take one step in the direction we want. A step taken without fear, stress, or tension—without anything except the joy of taking that step and seeing what will come of it.
2. I don’t know.
We are conditioned from an early age to rationalize, justify, and explain things, whether we’re studying for a biology exam, writing an essay, or trying to get out of detention.
This attitude can have serious consequences later in life as we become set in our patterns of thinking and behaving. We understand the world—we have the answers—so new information gets filtered out before it has any opportunity to impact us.
By adopting the stance “I don’t know,” we open ourselves to the possibility that there are different ways of seeing the world. We give ourselves new opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve—to become okay with the uncertainty and humility of not always having the answer.
3. Life is easy.
When we suffer, and particularly if we’ve been suffering for a long time—whether that’s through health problems, workplace issues, relationship troubles, or anything else—it is easy to feel as if life is simply one prolonged struggle, and that getting by is the best we can hope for.
But all this changes when we adopt the idea that life is easy!
For instance, I had my laptop stolen when I was traveling in Malaysia. I lost several months of writing I had saved up, fairly significant for someone whose income relies upon his portfolio. Not only that, but with no computer I had no way of doing any freelancing work to help support myself.
This was incredibly stressful until I decided to see this as an opportunity; with my old work gone, I had the chance to write something even better than I had created before.
I had an interesting experience—a challenge and adventure—recovering from the setback that I could use in my future work. That was an amazing realization that made it simple to move on from the setback and enjoy the ride.
When we turn obstacles and barriers into opportunities and adventures, stress and discomfort disappear, we need less motivation to act, procrastination affects us less, and the creative part of our minds responsible for lateral thinking and problem solving stay active.
As a result, solutions start to appear as if from nowhere, simply because we put our minds in a position to find the answers. And life does become easier.
These phrases, with enough time, were major reasons why I can talk and write today. They are the reasons I was able to solve the impossible problems that dumbfounded medical professionals, and they can be the reason that your life changes for the better in the coming weeks and months.
Photo by Davide Restivo