One of the greatest things about being human is that we CREATE our moods. We have the ability to choose ANY state of mind in every given moment. What freedom! In every given moment of life, each of us has absolute access to every single possible human emotion or state. All of them. All the time. It’s only contingent upon how we are thinking in the moment, or how we are interpreting reality in that moment.
Here’s a link to a short video on the power of your interpretations: Interpretation vs. Observation
Much like a light switch instantly turns on a light, we can instantly turn on any mood. In a moment. We have that ability. All we need to do is change our thoughts. Change the thought, change your mood. That simple. If you wake up “on the wrong side of the bed”, meaning if you awaken in some kind of funk or unpleasant mood, it can only be for one reason – you’re thinking poorly right off the bat. Maybe you’re remembering the unpleasant thoughts you went to sleep with. Maybe you had an unpleasant dream. It doesn’t matter. Change your thoughts and change your mood. Good moods activate intelligence. Choose those.
Complaining, by definition, is a low-grade interpretation of the moment. Practice eliminating complaints. One of the most intelligent disciplines to incorporate into your life is the practice of replacing complaints with expressions of gratitude. Gratitude is one of the highest emotional states and it leads to activation of all forms of intelligence. It has us be smart. It has us be tougher. It has us be more athletic. One of the greatest pieces I have ever seen on gratitude is this clip narrated by Brother David Steindl Rast: Gratitude
I want to get into the practice of catching myself complaining and then in the very next moment, I want to upgrade my interpretation massively. For example, and let’s take a simple situation to start with, let’s say you made yourself a morning cup of coffee and then proceeded to leave it on the kitchen counter and walk upstairs to go check your email. As soon as you get to the top of the stairs you realize you accidentally came upstairs without your coffee. Chances are exceptionally good that your instantaneous response would be disappointment or some form of self-deprecation, like, “Aw, man, what”s wrong with me?! I can’t believe I just forgot that.” And then you’d go down and retrieve it. Why is it that a negative response is automatic there? Why isn’t the auto-response an expression of joy or enthusiasm, like, “Oh, sweet! I totally just forgot I made myself a cup of coffee and it’s hot and ready for me down on the counter. Nice! Let’s go get it.” Why isn’t that, or some other celebratory reaction the automatic response? The answer is conditioning. We have been conditioned over time to shift our interpretations of reality from inspiring to uninspiring. The good news? We can recondition. Just like reconditioning muscles, we can recondition our minds. We can reprogram our thinking habit so that they SERVE us. We want to practice transforming our low-grade interpretations into high-grade thoughts so that we create the high-grade states that will have us be excellent. One of my favorite mantras is “Create the state – don’t wait!” Here’s a link to a video on that: Create The State – Don’t Wait!
I coach a lot of professional and amateur golfers on the mental game. I was coaching a golfer this afternoon on this exact practice of upgrading from complaints to gratitude and enthusiasm. I asked him for something that he habitually complains about in golf. He said, “Practicing hitting balls into a right to left wind.” Wind is something that golfers notoriously complain about, so it’s a great example. I asked him for an example of an absolute turn-around. A completely opposite interpretation of that exact situation that would not only not have him feel frustrated, but that would legitimately and sincerely have him feel psyched. He thought for a moment. Then he said, “If I owned my own indoor state-of-the-art practice facility equipped with wind simulators, I’d intentionally set them on occasion to a strong right to left wind setting so that I could train myself to play great shots in that exact condition. I’m going to hit thousands of shots in that situation throughout my pro career, so this is actually a perfect opportunity, since I DON’T have my own facility with simulators, to rehearse these shots!”
Buddha said it best, “Your life unfolds according to the way you think.” Want excellence in life? Be an excellent thinker. Raise your standards for your interpretations. Become the person who doesn’t interpret the world problematically, but rather opportunistically. And then there no longer is a “wrong side of the bed”.