Something I have noticed is that often, when I need the 21-Day tools most, I least feel like doing them. When I am tired, ill, or just too busy, how on earth can I find time to play a ‘happy song’ or do a ‘happy activity?’! It just seems that when I most need to reach out for these practices, I least want to do so!
Like right now. I’ve been a bit poorly over the last two weeks, in ongoing pain, whilst trying to keep a handle on work. So of course I have been meditating regularly, focusing on ‘being present’ and just generally being kind to myself. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Oh no. The meditation has gone. Not a happy song in sight. And the phone/laptop/tablet has not left my side. How could this be?
Firstly, I think when you are poorly, or in pain, life is pushing you to the limits, or you are just flat out, all of this type of work is just more difficult. You can barely get through the day, let alone think of ‘self-compassion’ or ‘positive speech’.
But I want to give you the good news! If, during the better periods, you’ve been doing the exercises, and looking at changing the way your mind works, when the tougher times hit the fresh new habits have been integrated into your very being and your bias’s are different. Take me: a few years back, being unwell would really have taken over my mind completely, and I would have felt very down. But now, without trying, I am able to focus on the positive that still surrounds me, be grateful for what I have and be happy to be writing my first Happynesshub blog! I, very simply, feel ‘OK’ within myself (albeit physically yuk). I think this is because for years I have been practising the exercises that I am sharing with you, so that when the times are harder I react differently. I deal with them differently.
Dr. B J Fogg, a behavioural scientist who founded the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University, has studied what is needed to develop new habits. He cites three factors: motivation, ability and trigger. Fogg argues it’s unrealistic for people to be motivated the whole time, therefore we need to set ourselves tasks on how motivated we are feeling, doing the tougher ones when we are most motivated. Then, at more common times when motivation is lacking, we will already have put the processes in place, finding it easier to stick to the daily actions, which will eventually become ‘automatic’.
So I know an extra bit of meditation would be a good idea (one day I hope I will have integrated it into my life such that I do practise during the more challenging times), and I’m fully aware that I still have my dips, my sad moments, and my mini ‘pity parties’. But, and it’s a big but, they don’t last long, they don’t overwhelm me and they don’t take hold of me like they used to.
So, if you are finding some of the tasks tough, or you just can’t do them, please don’t be hard on yourself, especially if you are having a bad day. Maybe look at one small thing you could do to be kind to yourself. Then sit back and wait for a better day to come!