THE HABIT - A CASE FOR DAYDREAMING
Why you should Fake it 'till you Make it.
Last weekend I had the awesome opportunity to sneak over to Ontario and crash the wedding of one of my oldest friends - thanks to the reasonable priced fares at Flair Airlines... and mostly thanks to my supportive husband.
Flair is a great no fluff airline for tripping around Canada. No big meal service (I grabbed a wrap at the airport to bring), and no free drinks except water. Water’s free. And it's delicious. And...
Research shows that spending six hours on a plane leads to a significant decrease in hydration status, impacts the health and mood of passengers and can affect cognition, attention, memory and critical thinking, as well as leading to feelings of tiredness, fatigue and irritability. So there’s that.
Oh, and because your mucosal membranes become dehydrated while flying, their ability to trap bacteria or viruses becomes less efficient and effective so you’re more likely to catch an illness. So, yeah. Bring on the free water. Aaaanyway. carrying on...
The other thing Flair doesn't offer? TV.
No TV, no tablets, no WiFi. Silence....
Sure, I could have downloaded a few shows on Netflix to pass the hours. But I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to be forced to disconnect from tech by just bringing my notebook, and a book I've been eager to finish.
But here's what happened; It was perhaps the combination of dehydration effects listed above, and lack of a great sleep the night before, that landed me in a super groggy headspace. I wasn't able to focus on work, nor reading. And so there I was,
Just me and my thoughts.
Like many people, when left alone with my thoughts, my default pattern has been to gravitate toward the negative. It starts out innocently enough, with planning out my trip:
"I wonder how long the drive will be to pick up my sister's puppy on Sunday"
which leads to...
"My daughter would love to see that"
"Why didn't I just bring my daughter with me"
"because we don't have the money"
"I shouldn't be going at all"
"But I want to see my friends... but I won't have time to see some friends"
"Maybe I should hide the fact that I'm there so people I can't see won't know"
"What if so and so finds out? They'll be mad. They'll probably say blahblablah.... to which I'll respond blahblahblah...."
Know what I'm saying? In like 30 seconds I could go through questioning my timeline, feeling mom-guilt, adding a layer of financial stress, doubting my decisions, feeling the need to bend the truth, and then writing a story or creating a conversation that doesn't exist.
WOW. That's a pretty wild mind trip we take ourselves on. And I say we cause I know it ain’t just me.
Now, I can’t take all the responsibility for this negativity spiral. The fact is our brains are wired for this nonsense.
We have a negativity bias.
The human brain is programmed to be on alert for danger, which totally served us when we were hunter gatherers and at any moment a mountain lion could emerge from the bushes and eat us. We had to assume everything was danger.
As we've evolved this gravitation toward the negative both helps us to make safe choices, and hinders us by keeping us from trying new things, and experiencing growth.
It's that voice in your head that talks you out of doing the things you actually want to do. It's that voice that comes up with allllll the reasons why it'll fail, or you'll fail, or something bad will happen if you make this decision or that.
Here's something else -
We wire our own thought patterns, and what we wire in, repeats.
It's like anything, what you practice, you get good at. Since we start out defaulting toward the negative, we continue to do so in most inner dialogue, and so we create patterns in that direction. It becomes SUPER difficult to focus in any other way.
So, how to we stand up to the Negative Nancy in our brains?
I LOVE blogs with takeaways. Especially 3-step takeaways. So imma lay one down right here.
STEP 1 - Recognize that you need 5 positive interactions for every one negative interaction.
Dr. Dan Harris figured out this little gem. He studied a bunch of relationships and determined that for a positive relationship to exist there needs to be 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative one. Because we tend to focus on the bad stuff (like coming out of a good job interview and then fine tooth combing it in your head for all the times you said the wrong thing), we need 5 times as many good things to occur in order to feel good overall.
Same goes for your internal dialogue. If for every 1 poopy thought you have, you give 5x as much attention to positive thoughts, at the end of the day you’ll have had a better day.
With me? Ok.
Step 2 - Recognize that the nervous system doesn't know the difference between something that's really happening and something you’re making up in your head.
Your stress response to an event is very close to the same whether it’s actually going down, or you’re just worrying about it going down. Hence anxiety and stress causing disease. truth.
Woah. So like, now that you understand the way your mind is messing with you… what can you do right now to start to change?
Step 3 - Create a practice of visualizing the good.
I told you this post was about daydreaming!
Create a ritual of daydreaming. Close your eyes and take yourself on a walk through a beautiful place, or on a journey, or into a dream job, or riding on a horse - whatever feels good, and whatever you want to invite into your life. Find your happy place. Make it super detailed. Include the people you love (mine always starts with walking down a forest path, holding my daughter’s hand). Just like you do with all the fake altercations - create dreams of amazing conversations. Or just play actual GOOD conversations on repeat.
Go there every time you feel like going down the spiral. Go there every night as you fall asleep. Tell yourself a love story about how awesome you are, and how awesome your life is.
Cause you know what?
You Are. And it is. You just gotta let yourself feel it.