So far, I am happy to report, the positive thinking project is going great. Are you aware that only two feelings impact every single decision we make? They are pleasure and pain. Of the two feelings, interestingly enough, pain has a stronger affect than pleasure.
Consider this: I drink sweet tea every day even though I know the sugar is bad for me. Why? It is linked with great pleasure in my life. Throughout my childhood, I drank sweet tea with my grandparents and my parents. When I drink it now, in a strange sort of way, I am drinking in wonderful memories.
To change my behavior, then, and stop drinking sweet tea altogether, I need to link a "pain" to the behavior that will outweigh the pleasure. Hmmmm. Statistics show caffeine and sugar are linked to some forms of cancer. Ok, that is a definite "pain", but it is not as near and dear to my heart as the memories of grandma and grandpa. But, if I think of people I know who have either died from cancer or who have battled cancer.....NOW, the "pain" becomes more personal and therefore more powerful.
Thus, by associating daily drinking of sweet tea with loved ones who have battled cancer, the sweet tea is not nearly as tempting. Hopefully, vice is defeated.
The reverse is true as well. Exercising for most people is equal to "pain". To make a change and become a regular workout junkie or health nut, therefore, a person would need to find a "pleasure" that would be a greater influence than the "pain" linked with a treadmill. Living a long life, feeling energetic, losing weight, etc. are all "pleasures" that could possibly work to make the "pain" more insignificant. (A picture of yourself 20 years ago AND 20 pounds ago posted on the fridge might work too. Ha! Ha!)
Sound simple? I really think it might be. This is sort of what I am attempting to conquer with the depression I battle from time to time over little Hopey's uncertain heart condition. Obviously, my bouts of depression are not clinical or chemical, but circumstantial....something I can control.
To remedy, I first recognize the sadness as behavior I want to change. Whenever sadness creeps in, I have made a seven day pledge to turn that thought into something positive. In the process, however, I am also beginning to add a new step. I am now working to link "pain" with the sad feelings.
You might be thinking: "Why does she need to link "pain" with her sadness....what kind of "pleasure" could possibly be linked to any form of depression?" Oh boy. After five years of dealing with a child who has an ongoing heart condition, sadness has become a faithful friend....something expected....almost a strange comfort at times. I know it might sound nuts, but being sad is sometimes an excuse for me to drown in selfishness....almost an enticing form of "All About Me Syndrome".
Like I linked the "pain" of cancer with sweet tea, I have started to link the "pain" of missed opportunity with Hopey, Charlie, Nat, Lydia, Caleb, and Chappy with sadness. Therefore, whenever I feel sadness creep in, not only do I re-direct my thinking to something positive, I also remind myself of the good times I would miss with my family by being self-indulgent in despair. Each moment of sadness is re-directed with a thought of missed opportunity with my family....kind of like Pavlov's dog now that I think about it....re-conditioning my brain and thought patterns. The point is, time passes by no matter whether Hopey has three weeks to live or three years to live....how do I want to spend each moment of time that can never be recaptured again??? Of course I want to make the most of every moment.
So, to close, "Melanie the Blog Queen" has become "Psycho-babble Blogger" for a few days as I work through this. Most of you are aware that our family has an organized family meeting, prayer time and Bible Study every evening in our great room. Would you be surprised to learn we have been working through this endeavor together? We have. Each of the kids have noted something they would like to change about themselves, then together we have pinpointed the "pleasure" associated with that behavior. Over the next few nights we will work to link some kind of "pain" in order to make the change. We are a work in progress, but it will be interesting to see if we are successful.
On another note, Caleb has started a new fifteen week basketball workout called "Air Alert" that is supposed to increase his vertical leap by 12 inches. He watched the DVD and read the book, and both noted he will be MUCH more successful if he has a partner to do the workouts with. "How difficult could it be", I foolishly asked myself, "this will give me good conversation time with Caleb." Then, I excitedly said: "I will be your partner, Caleb!"
I type this with a pain in my legs that is difficult to describe. I used to be a cheerleader....many moons ago....and jumping was an everyday part of life way back then. I haven't jumped since UNTIL I began this workout with Caleb. Lord help me. My brain totally remembers HOW to jump, but I'll be darned if my legs do. It seems they have completely forgotten. Caleb has a bright face when he walks in the room and asks: "Ready Mom?" I answer "Yes, of course" and pull my legs (using my hands) to follow him and then force my legs to jump. I am STILL trying to link a higher level of "pleasure" in order to defeat the "pain" in my legs with this one, but I am not too optomistic. I should have stuck with the treadmill.