In this podcast (episode #446) and blog, I talk about one of the biggest things I am going to work on in 2023 for my brain detox challenge: how much of a gift life is, and how we need to appreciate every moment we are alive.
This realization came to be when, in July 2022, I almost died from a burst appendix that I left for too long. I kept thinking, “Oh, this must just be bad food poisoning”, and keep pushing myself to work, work, work (I had so many deadlines and was pretty stressed out).
Little did I know that a few hours later I would be rushed to the ER, and the doctor would tell me that if I had waited a few more hours, I would probably have not made it--my body was in septic shock. Right there and then, I had one of those “life flashing before your eyes” moments they so often talk about in the movies. I could have died? Could my life have ended so quickly? How did I not sense my impending death? Why did I feel like I could just push through and ignore the signals my brain and body were sending me?
As I sat there in shock, with the real, tangible realization that life is so precious, I made a decision to appreciate each moment I am alive and breathing, which is my mantra for 2023 and what I will be focusing on this year. I know this sounds cheesy and cliché, or something silly a character would say in one of those B-grade movies, but it really in my opinion cuts to the heart of being human. We so often live our lives as if tomorrow is guaranteed, but it is not—I think, in a very sad, real way, the recent COVID pandemic taught a lot of us this. There are so many things we cannot control. At the same time, there is at least one thing we can control: how we choose to live our lives—how we choose to appreciate the gift of life we have right here, right now, as something truly precious.
As I go into 2023, one way I am going to practice doing this is using mind management to focus on how precious life is every day. I want this thought to grow strong in my mind and brain and color the way I see the world, including any challenges I will face in the new year. I want it to be the glasses that filter what I see, feel and experience. Through this lens, I want to see the world differently and truly learn to live my life like each day, each moment, is a gift.
To do this, I am using the Neurocycle, which I discuss in detail in my latest book, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, and my app Neurocycle. The Neurocycle is a way to harness your thinking power through mind-management that I have developed and researched over the past three decades; any task that requires thinking can use it, which means everything can, because you’re always thinking!
It takes around 63 days (not 21!) to really build a new mental habit, so I will be practicing appreciating the gift of life using the Neurocycle for the next 63 days, and another 63 days if I feel it is necessary! There is no time limit on mind-management—it is something we should all be doing, every day, for the rest of our lives, because we will always have something we need to work on in our lives! As I always say, New Year’s resolutions really should be all-year resolutions. We shouldn’t just wait until December 31 to make a change in our lives.
So, for 2023, I am going to be spending around 5-7 minutes a day working on the 5 steps of the Neurocycle:
- Gathering awareness of how I feel mentally and physically when I think about how short life is, and what a gift it is to be alive. How do I feel physically? What are my behaviors? What is my perspective?
- Reflecting on how I feel. Why do I think I feel this way? What are my mental and physical feelings telling me? What is my perspective and behavior telling me?
- Writing down my reflections to help organize my thinking.
- Rechecking what I did in steps 1-3 to help me reconceptualize how I have reacted in the past and find a new way of seeing life and appreciating each day.
- Practicing my active reach. This is a thought or action I practice daily to help me reconceptualize what I thought about in the previous step. For example, when I do an everyday activity, such as cooking a meal and eating dinner with my husband, I stop, and just give myself a few moments to appreciate being alive.
Just doing this for the past few days has already made the world of difference in my life! I already feel like I am slower to react to my triggers, such as getting irritated at the small, everyday issues that inevitably come up as I go about my day. I feel like the way I see the world around me has shifted: my walks on the beach with my dogs and family have a new glow, almost like this is the first time we have done something like this. Things that I used to take for granted feel more special.
I also feel like this is changing me physically. My creativity and intuition have improved, my sleeping patterns are so much better, I feel like I am learning things faster and processing information in a more regulated way—overall, I feel like my physical and mental capacity has improved!
This doesn’t mean that everything is all happy all the time. I actually find that practicing this Neurocycle daily has helped me tune into moments of sadness and pain on a deeper level, but in a way that makes me more resilient—I realize that these moments are part of life, are what makes me human, but do not overshadow my life. As silly as this sounds, to quote the play Annie: I really do feel like the sun will come out tomorrow!
And, as I do this daily, I know that my brainwaves are responding in a positive way, which is actually making my mind, brain and body more resilient to toxic stress, and more able to change in a positive direction in response to my life experiences. Talk about having a “life insurance policy”! This is honestly one of the best gifts we can give ourselves in 2023: to be thankful for what we do have, and how we will come out the other side when we face a challenge is powerful!
For more on living life to the fullest and using mind management to start your year on a good note, listen to my podcast (episode #446). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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2:50 What I will be working on in 2023
4:00, 6:30 Learning to appreciate how precious life is
7:53 How I am using mind management to learn how to appreciate every moment I am alive in 2023
10:00, 12:32 How mind management changes the brain
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.