I won last night. For the first time in years. And I was elated. So elated in fact, that I lost to myself. There was a little bit of gloating involved. I teased Savannah just a bit. And rode my bike 2 miles roundtrip just to post a status update on facebook detailing my success. For somebody that is actively trying to pursue a lifestyle of contentment, simplicity, happiness and all around goodness, I definitely feel as though I screwed up last night.
But as I am becoming increasingly aware, everything is a process. Changing something as fundamental as a thought pattern isn’t something that you can just do overnight. Certainly it’s something that I can make an effort to change every night. And I believe that noticing those mistakes, those places that I am not acting or thinking or reacting in a way I really believe I should be acting or thinking or reacting is quite possibly one of the most important things I can do towards improving and changing those lifelong habits.
For instance, upon noticing that I was gloating and teasing last night, it would have been most appropriate for me to direct my excited thoughts towards more constructive outlets. At the very least it would have been more appropriate for me to just take a few deep, slow breaths.
In fact, taking a few deep slow breaths is one of the most effective things you can do to gain control of your mind period. Whether you’re stressed, excited, angry, frustrated, confused, terrified, or any other emotion, the simple act of taking 60 seconds worth (I like to shoot for 5 minutes) of deep slow breaths, 4 seconds in, 6 seconds out while thinking of nothing but your breathing or visualizing how you would like to be acting differently can completely eliminate all traces of cortisol from your body, What I really like about this exercise though, is that it seems to have the ability to completely reframe the current moment and brings a sense of clarity that is otherwise extremely difficult to come by.
Deep breathing is just a small step in the process but if you’re looking to change a habit I strongly suggest you give it a shot. It’s well worth your time.