What do you do when you find yourself in a stressful situation? Do you find ways to distract yourself or do you push through the pain knowing that no Earthly moment is eternal? I found myself in a painful situation a few years ago where I struggled to get on my feet. I did not care about many things from family to my health, and I let go of what truly mattered to me. In essence, I had lost my authentic self.
During this time, I thought about writing a list of things I am grateful for such as my family, friends, shelter, and knowledge. Nonetheless, I began to realize these where more of the bigger picture to my story. Instead, I thought of what truly mattered to me, and what made my heart tick?
I have come to realize there are specific moments in our lives in which we feel “alive.” These are the moments in which we are our true selves and at our core, have our deepest desires met. As I began to formulate my list, I found myself in a state of appreciation because I was being introspective with my thoughts.
I decided to write about extremely specific instances in which I feel most alive. For example, I am grateful for cruising down pacific coast highway in Malibu, CA with my windows down, the music blasting and picturing myself playing alongside the musicians. As you can tell, this is incredibly accurate in terms of pinpointing a specific event. As a musician who has been playing music for over a decade, music is at the core of who I am. No wonder it ended up on my list.
Another example from my list is “I am grateful for a tasty apple fritter from hole in one donuts back in Victorville, CA.” Anyone who truly knows me will know I love donuts, and it is my crave food. In this example I am not only overjoyed by the simple act of eating an apple fritter, but it is a donut shop in my hometown. This leads to developing feelings of warmth and enjoyment because home will always be home.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” — Thornton Wilder
I keep my gratitude list in my wallet, my car, and on my work desk. This way I can consistently be bombarded by what I know are my life’s most precious moments. This is most needed when life seems to never stop.
We all desire to be happy in life and when we remind ourselves of what matters most, we can remember who we truly are. Life’s struggles become minuscule once we look at our gratitude list and reaffirm ourselves of these moments.
In the journal, Health Psychology, authors Crewswell and Sherman wanted to see the effects of self-affirmation on people’s stress levels while giving an impromptu speech. They had one group write a personal core value that could define them at their core and another write about a value that was not extremely important to them.
They measured their cortisol levels before and after the speech and came to the conclusion that the people who wrote a personal core value of theirs had vastly lower cortisol levels in comparison to the other group. This as Dr. Amy Cuddy from the book Presence would say “[the self-affirmations that they personally owned] reminded them of their most valued strengths [and] protected them from anxiety.”
We all aim to live a good life. We want to accomplish our goals, leave legacies, impact other people, and enjoy ourselves. Ever since I took the time to write self-affirmations that embodied me at my core, my life has been exponentially better.
Life throws curveballs and typically does not go as planned, but if we consistently remind ourselves of what truly matters through the tribulations of life, then we can continue to move forward and never backwards.
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Originally published at medium.com