What’s Right With You?

There is more right with you
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Jon Kabat-Zinn was on Super Soul Sunday this past weekend. As is often the case with the program I have come to see as my in-home church, there were lots of “a ha” moments.

Kabat-Zinn is well known as a father of mindfulness teaching. The Center for Mindfulness, which he founded at the University of Massachusetts, has been a bastion for mind-body research in this country. What impressed me most about Jon as he calmly spoke to Oprah, was the fact that he knew early on (in the 70s) that the relaxed mind played a critical piece in health. It is a concept that is still not quite accepted in mainstream medicine, although due largely to his efforts, it is continually gaining traction.

Are We Asking the Wrong Questions?

I already understand the healing benefits of meditation and mindfulness, so I must admit I wasn’t paying close attention to the TV as I sipped my morning coffee and flipped through the Sunday paper. In hindsight, I wasn’t being very mindful at all– opting instead for the multitasking that is my default. Nevertheless, I was alert enough to hear the line that sent me scrambling for a pen.

“As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than is wrong with you.”

The simplicity and comfort of the statement ironically left me breathless. In all my years as a patient, rarely (if ever) has a doctor focused on what is right with me. By the very nature of a medical exam, the focus is always on what is wrong. How my body is not quite measuring up.

It reminds me how often in life we ask the wrong questions, focusing our thoughts on the negative instead of seeing all the inherent good. Think your health is poor? Consider what your body does for you on a daily basis. There is a whole lot that is working well in this very moment. The lab tests, the few things that are not quite right, are miniscule in comparison to the marvel that is you.

Building on the Positives

Being grateful and focusing on the positive in the world has remarkable health benefits – this is an undeniable fact. However, as a habit it is hard to practice consistently, especially given the critical world we live in.

This summer, after experiencing the angst of turning 40, I visited with a Psychic for clarity. Rather than focusing on predicting my future, she was far more concerned with teaching me how to shape it. A little disappointed, I listened as she explained the Law of Attraction. When she mentioned making a morning routine of writing out what you want to have grow, over and over (Bart Simpson style), I was intrigued. I had kept a gratitude journal of what I was thankful for at the end of the day, but this was a much more proactive approach. It is not only a creative release, but also a mind shifting exercise. The only rule – you must put it in present tense as though it is already in full effect. My first attempt looked something like this:

I am filled with energy and joy
I am filled with energy and joy
I am filled with energy and joy
I am filled with energy and joy
I am filled with energy and joy

As I scribbled across the page, my hand began to cramp. Although admittedly, I did feel a bit more empowered. Subsequent entries in my morning journal were short and sweet: I am creative; I am loving; I am happy; I am valuable. It doesn’t need to be complicated – just positive.

Asking the Right Questions

Another approach that is helpful in shifting the mind toward the positive is simply asking the right questions, the ones that remind you how awesome you are.

  • What is working in my body? (I am breathing, I am able to stand, I can see clearly)
  • Who did I help today? (a family member, a pet, a colleague)
  • How much joy have I spread? (a shared smile, a laugh, a facebook post)
  • What makes me different? (my crazy hair, my silly sense of humor, my love of cheese)
  • What body part do I really like? (my tiny ears, my long fingernails, my face-scrunching grin)
  • What skills did I use today? (expert use of my directional signal, mad Google skills, typing like a fiend)

The bottom line is that for every negative there is a positive (even many positives). You can readily access it by focusing your attention on all that is right. If you are having trouble with that concept, check out You are a Gift (and believe it!)

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