There are lots and lots of ways to go about creating a better life (which is the essence of what I really want to explore on this site). This particular post is just one way, one small tool I’ve found that I really love to use.
As humans, anything that we do over and over again in the same way gets moved to the subconscious area of our brains. Remember how when you first learned to drive, you had to consciously think about putting on the brake (and that it was the pedal on the left not the right side), looking in the rear view mirror, shifting into reverse, turning the wheel clockwise to back out of the driveway to the right and vice versa if backing out to the left and, of course stopping at the edge of the driveway to check both ways before pulling out onto the street. Now, much of your driving habits are subconscious. Not only do you not have to think about all the safe driving skills needed to back out of your driveway, you do them while talking to your mom via Bluetooth and swatting at Tommy in the backseat because he’s irritating his sister and everyone else in the car.
By adulthood, much of our lives have become preprogrammed responses. For instance, the Texas State Fair is in Dallas right now. If I were still with my boyfriend of the past 3.5 years, I know we would have gone. I know we would have headed toward the food and drink vendors to the left of Big Tex first, because we both knew we were not good company when our blood sugar was low. We’d hit the automobile pavilion (for him), the whack the chicken in the pot game (for me), the butter sculpture (a mutual favorite), the Ferris wheel and some other low key ride, guaranteed to not make us hurl our corndogs –like a fun house.
The problem with living a subconscious, pre-programmed life is you get a lot of the same old same old. We all want a better, different, more exciting, positive, exhilarating life, but we fall victim to our programming. So we start to live what many people would refer to as the definition of insanity – a life in which we do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.
So one thing I’ve started doing is pre-paving a different outcome to things that I’ve experienced as negative in the past (ahead of time). Here’s one that happened not too long ago, and I was flabbergasted at the resulting experience.
I had worked a very tough work week, so on Saturday morning I decided to treat myself to a little shopping – a walk about the mall. As I got close to the parking lot, I could see that it was packed to the gills. There were cars parked all the way to the street, a good football field away from the mall doors. I felt my shoulders tense as I thought “Just great, this is going to be a zoo.” Now, I can tell you from experience what would normally happen next. I’d go ahead and park (in east Egypt), go in (with a bad attitude), and be slightly to extremely agitated the entire shopping trip, as I would be more focused on negotiating the hoards than on going in to have the fun getaway I had originally envisioned. This is an example of a pre-programmed response based on past life experiences.
Luckily this particular time I caught myself mid-thought as I neared the parking lot. I knew I had just set myself up for a negative experience. I’ve become aware that the universe holds all possible experiences in it all at once. Where we focus determines what types of experiences we will have. We can’t focus on everything at once because there is way too much in any given moment for us to take in, so with infinite possibilities, our minds usually tend to focus where and how it has in the past, based on our historical experiences. Here we go again, right! We live the same stories over and over rather than living the enchanted, wondrous lives that are possible if we just let moments unfurl with fresh new eyes and perspective.
So, once I parked I closed my eyes for a few moments, focused on my breathing, and then told myself, “This will be a fantastic outing. I will see beauty and joy everywhere I look. It’ll be fun!” sat there a few minutes more to let those thoughts sink in. It’s funny how our minds tend to believe most things we tell it. That little shopping trip was fantastic. It was like my brain and my eyes were working together to find the things for which I had pre-programmed it. I was dumbfounded at how my eyes, without conscious effort, magically gravitated to the beauty and sweetness around me– a lady smiling, rocking and cooing at her baby, perfect symmetrical pots of exotic bromeliads with brilliant fusia centers, people laughing and enjoying each other, a cascade of vibrant rainbow-colored lingerie in the window of Victoria Secret, probably the most beautiful and artistically done window dressing I had seen since I spent a Christmas season in New York. It was one of my best mall experiences ever, despite it being packed to the brim with people.
I learned a lot from that experiment. I now try to pre-pave any experience that I have had a negative-bias toward in the past. So, if you’ve always had a tense feeling going into a holiday dinner with the in-laws, a pissed off response to a particular corporate monthly meeting – whatever — catch yourself ahead of time and pre-pave the way for a new and better experience. Expectations can be tempered, start small – “I will find at least one opportunity in which to shine in this meeting” or “I’m going to find one genuine compliment to give my mother-in-law that will set the tone for a really nice visit.” Trust me, as you practice this pre-paving or refocusing, repatterning of the mind, – small miracles will start to happen. And these grow our abilities to believe and create bigger and better life experiences as we go. As I’ve read biographies of great people over the years, I’ve noticed one common thing, they all had a capacity for visioning (pre-paving) the outcomes they wanted. Blessings!