Set Your Alarm Clock!

Have you set your alarm clock to "intention?"

I recently watched Micheal J. Fox's Adventures of An Incurable Optimist, which inspired me to write this post.

"Since I'm not sure of the address to which to send my gratitude, I put it into everything I do." - Michael J. Fox in his documentary, Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.

It is clear how Michael has set his alarm clock - his intention is to awaken with optimism and gratitude. Living with a chronic debilitating disease is a challenge. Fear can easily take over and add unnecessary stress to an already stressful condition. Watching your abilities and your health ebb away, just like a receding tide, possibly never to advance, requires a strategy for living that can drown out the loud cacophony of fear. Micheal has found a way, as have I. Have you?

From my own experiences with rheumatoid arthritis, I have learned that I feel and do better when I spend more time in the positive zone. It includes surrounding myself with positive books, people and events. It also means infusing my life with gratitude, as Micheal has so beautifully proclaimed.

Positive thoughts and emotions change your heart rhythms. They smooth out. Heart Rate Variability (how your heart speeds up and slows down) is a good predictor of health. When you are soaking in positive thoughts and emotions, your heart sends signals to your brain, implying that everything is okay - that there is no need to initiate the stress response – a cascade of  1400 chemical changes that prepares your body for fight or flight. It is an inherited survival mechanism that is meant to get you out of danger.

However, so much of what you experience today is not a real and immediate threat to your survival; it does not warrant the constant activation of your stress response.Over time, it  wears out your nervous system, hastens aging and contributes to many medical conditions.

When you have smooth heart rhythms and are in the stress-free zone. You feel better, and  people are able to sense this, even if they are unaware of it. The electromagnetic output of the heart can be measured up to 8 feet away from the body. Since most of the communication clues are picked up non-verbally, it stands to reason that you feel and do better around certain people. It's that heart energy! Imagine a nation of people who are activating positive thoughts and feelings! Micheal noted that he felt better and was able to do more while visiting Bhutan – a place where the government has legislated GNH – Gross National Happiness.

Can happiness be taught or prescribed, or is it a by-product of the choices you make and the attitudes you adopt? Tomes have been written on what constitutes happiness, and how to get it. You're often told (and sold on) what you need to buy in order to have happiness. Yet, when you get it, you find that you're still not happy.

Happiness comes from honouring your values. Happiness is transforming your stress. Happiness is being thankful for what you have, for who is in your life and what you are able to do. Your heart rhythms can change when you regularly practice techniques, and intentionally make a shift to appreciation, or any other positive thoughts or emotions.

What do you have in your satchel of tricks to help you? One of my many techniques includes asking myself if I am okay in this moment. Am I still able to take a walk? Am I warm? Do I have food in the house?

There are many moments that make up a life. One moment falls away, replaced with another, then another. It's in those moments that you can begin to make some changes. A good place to start is by being thankful for what you are able to do, and as Michael suggests, inject your daily activities with gratitude.

Simply by making this shift, the most mundane of tasks can be transformed. Rather than feeling stressed you may find you are feeling blessed.