A positive mindset is the only way to ensure your happiness
Ever heard the saying “children are our greatest teachers?” Well, I couldn’t agree more. Having a daughter with epilepsy has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. For years I worked hard to “fix” her and to rid her of this terrible disease.
In learning about epigenetics, the study of how our environments influence our gene expression, I have come to realize that genes are not destiny. Just because you carry a certain gene doesn’t mean you are destined to get a specific disease. And if for some reason you do switch on a gene, it doesn’t mean you can’t switch it off. After discovering the work of Dr. Bruce Lipton, who argues that our thoughts create our reality, I started to unravel the damage I had created by focusing on what I didn’t have and didn’t want.
My hopes and dreams for my child seemed far out of reach, and the negative thoughts tugged at my heartstrings hard. Tormenting my mind with doubt, I finally realized these thoughts were not helping anyone.
I remember my sister-in-law having sticky notes around her house saying, “What you focus on grows.” As I became more aware of the power of thought, I realized that as hard as we tried, we would never be rewarded as long as we were focusing our energies in the wrong place.
Our thoughts dictate our actions
Removing stress became our biggest hurdle, and knowing it’s impossible to remove all stress, I instead looked for tools to manage it. Two simple apps on my phone, HeartMath and Calm, gave me the tools to begin my days with focused breathing and self-love. For our daughter, understanding that she has control of her nervous system and can manage her seizures with breath alone was incredibly empowering.
By letting go of negative thinking and choosing happiness, our world began to shift in unexpected ways. I composed a letter thanking our daughter for having epilepsy. If she didn’t, I would never have learned these powerful stress management tools that are changing my life. Tools I wish I had learned as a teenager.
As William James said, “Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” In the spirit of this quote my daughter and I developed the following 3-step strategy for shifting to a positive mindset:
1. Purchase 3 easy buttons
(yes, those easy buttons from Staples.) One for the car, one for work, and one for home. You have the power to choose one thought over another. When a negative thought pops up, shift and choose a positive mindset and press the easy button. The physical act of hitting the button will help to reaffirm the new, positive thought. I promise it works!
2. Establish a morning routine that sets the tone for your day
It only takes a mere 21 days to develop a habit. Consider including ten minutes of guided meditation to start your day off right. Check out The Better Me app. It allows you to track your progress and stay accountable.
3. Consciously decide to show up for yourself daily and give gratitude
“Thank you, epilepsy, for showing me the power of my breath, the power of meditation and the power of self-care. Because of you, my life has been forever changed, and for this I am grateful.” (Then press the easy button.)
Choosing happiness and letting go of what’s holding you back is the only path away from suffering. Seeing disease as a great teacher instead of a huge burden allows us to focus on a positive mindset and feel gratitude. It really is the key to everything good in this world.