Reality Check ✔️ - Issue #61
Hey! How are you? What have you been working on? Have you been able to check in with your soul?
This past Sunday, I was feeling some overwhelm and needed to get out of the house. Sometimes we get addicted to what is comfortable and stuck in our own ways that we refuse to do something about it. Circumstances can become so familiar that the difference between what’s pleasant and what’s familiar becomes foggy.
Thankfully, there are many solutions to rising above any problem and looking at it from a new angle. In previous articles and podcasts/videos, we’ve discussed the various tools of meditation, nutrition, mindset, cold water therapy, heat, and the benefits they offer, including clarity of mind to be able to solve challenges. Today we will discuss two, both of which complement the other.
Often the solution(s) is right in front of our eyes. We just have to open our eyes (link to blog, The Eyes are Last to See) and become aware of the solution. The Babylonian Talmud in tractate Rosh HaShanah 16b provides the first solution: Meshaneh Makom Meshaneh Mazal, change the place/environment, change one’s fortune. Scientifically, we see evidence that supports this teaching. The branch of epigenetics studies how the environment can affect the way a person thinks, feels, and acts, which in turn affects gene expression. Familiar environments, seeing the same people, doing the same things, all lead people to think the same ways, feel the same feelings, and do the same actions. If this is the case, nothing in a person’s life will change. Although not victim to environment or external influences (as touched on in Test the Mazal), meaning one can make genetic changes regardless of the environment, it can and usually does have influence on the way people think, feel, and act. Depending on certain situations, it does not mean a person should escape from their place and run away; however, a retreat from the familiar environment can assist in reframing how they view the place(s) they’re in. In other words, it can help them change their inner environment. Ultimately, reframing can help master one’s perspective as written in the Hayom Yom (Daily teaching) from Wednesday this week, Nissan 5, quoting the Sages in Taanit 21b that, “it is not a person’s place that enhances his honor; it is the person that enhances the honor of his place.” We can learn to use the environment, not let it use us.
The above, however, is an important preface to recognize that although true, a change in environment is okay. Being greater than the environment does not mean keeping oneself in an environment just so one can beat it. That would be ego. That would be getting in one’s way. The environment may not need a long-lasting change, but you can go work at a different environment!
Remembering and acknowledging this came as I sat under the sun on the outdoor patio of a closed coffee shop. Here is where tool number two came into play: journaling. One action that continues to help with thinking clearly is to capture thoughts and feelings on paper. There’s something so relieving to writing (link to the first newsletter Everything I do is Writing), being able to hold a thought and question it, trace it to its source, and have other thoughts without performing all these actions in the brain. It’s like having a second brain! I once heard about the Capture Habit which says “our brains are for having ideas, not for storing them.” The power of writing facilitates healthy self-reflection by keeping one’s line of thought in order. If a thought comes up that is a distraction, it is now more noticeable, keeping the thinker more focused. It is possible to reflect and ask oneself:
How am I doing?
How’s my health? Finances? Career, Confidence, Relationships? and so on.
Where can I improve? What could I do to set myself up for success?
What can I start doing?
What can I stop doing?
If this self-reflection is done only in the thought, how easy is it to forget the next day? Pretty dang easy. When put onto paper, it is now real - the thoughts and answers went from theoretical to actual, allowing for one to work on putting their new decisions into action. Additionally, highlighting the word “healthy” in healthy self-reflection, writing assists in observing your life and not judging it. This because now that the thought is on paper it can be questioned to see if it is helpful or it is harmful. “Think of this examination…” Dr. Joe Dispenza writes in Examining, Experimenting, and Evolving, “not as a way to be hard one yourself - which is coupled with emotions like frustration or discouragement - but a way to be honest with yourself.” There have been some areas in my life that are in need of improvement, so I wanted to get to the bottom of it, as well as revisit what I have been doing and why, and write down ideas for what I can do differently.
In newsletter #27 Spiritual Stocktaking, I wrote about “three times a year that I will review the year: my birthday, the Gregorian new year (January), and Rosh Hashanah (the birthday of the world, September). My birthday is coming up in less than a month, so I sat down to evaluate my life and see how I can improve.
Additionally, the holiday of Passover is starting the night of April 15 and in preparation for it many Jewish people are cleaning inside and outside their homes. In doing so, consider the teaching of Sages that the world is a mirror of our internal world; as the Zohar says, "the higher world is a mirror of the lower world and the face I show the mirror is the face I’m shown back.” In cleaning your home and properties, may this also be an invitation to and permission to examine the house that is you - now with these tools discussed today - and cleanse it from what keeps you from embracing health and wellness. However big or small, celebrating the process and celebrate your progress - even, or especially so, if you think there’s not much to celebrate. The more we practice seeing our successes, the more we can remind ourselves of them, and the more doing what’s best becomes natural to us!
In summary, find or purchase a journal, get outside, go to a supportive and fun environment, and have fun. Ask yourself questions like, what did you do well this past week, month, year? Then, what are the habits and behaviors you want to work on? All the answers you need are within you!
Here are some of my favorite journals (for different use): Best Self Journal. Traveler notebook. And this will help define a vision for the new year: Lifebook Story. Also, I am in the works of writing a guide all about journaling :)