Most people have an outside-in approach to life – we see events happening around us and react to those events. We attach merit and meaning to inanimate objects and get mad with other people who do things to annoy us. I see life. Differently, I create my own sunshine – no matter what’s happening around me, an inside-out approach.
We spend our lives watching the clouds on the horizon, convinced they would bring the storm and soak us- then to confirm our predictions. Eventually, the rain does come – even though we had days or weeks of sunshine, we, as humans, tend to focus on the rain.
I recently spent some time reflecting and journaling in 2020. And even though I have lived through a pandemic, I can honestly say it has been a happy year full of gratitude, even where plans did not go as expected. I had to do what humans do best, adapt, and change to survive.
So how do I create my own sunshine? And can you do it too?
Like most things that can be difficult, it takes practice. When you’re used to walking a certain route (looking for storms), the path becomes well worn – you practiced negative thinking. So, what we can do is to walk a different way and look for the sunshine, it’s always there – some days it hides above the clouds.
If your shoulders are up by your ears and you’re curled up in your posture, then you’re not breathing effectively, and you’re asking an awful lot of your body. Begin by creating space, sitting comfortably, lowering your shoulders, and giving yourself a moment to a deep breath slowly in and slowly out. To help you could count, imagine drawing a star, hum. The main thing is to be controlled and slow in and controlled and slow out. When you breathe deeply, filling all your lungs with fresh air, your alveoli expand, the gaseous exchange becomes optimal, and your lungs work better. Your whole-body benefits from deep breathing, regulation of stress hormones, lowering heart rate, and improving your digestion and immune system.
There is a growing body of evidence and practitioners demonstrating that humans feel better when they connect to nature. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we see improvements across the board when we spend time in nature. Antioxidants from the Earth are powerful healers of all body systems – we should all spend more time connected to the Earth we live on. To do this, we can go for walks, do outdoor hobbies, put up a picture of a view in our office, or bring plants in to help purify our home air. But more than this, we can physically connect to nature – our bodies are electrical circuits, and the energy transference by connecting to the Earth helps thin blood and regulate our bodies further. But don’t waste your time hugging a tree – the thick bark is insulated, you need to hold a leaf, swim in a natural pool, place your bare feet on stone or grass. Or you can buy technology that earths you through your home electrical socket. A simple carbon-infused mat to place your feet on Earth you as if you’re standing barefooted outside.
The final step is to begin to look for wonder – wonder is all around us. We find it hidden in plain sight. Wonder might be a mushroom growing out of a cut-down stump, a bird catching a worm, or the way the windscreen wipers keep beat with the song on the radio. I created my sunshine when I found a rose growing out of a concrete pillar – oblivious to the unnatural surroundings, mixing urban and nature, seeing mother earth as omnipresent – no matter how much we try to destroy her. Wonder is the key to sunshine. Slow down. Take time to look for beauty, architecture, sounds, and laughter. And when you really struggle to see the sunshine, then look for rainbows, they’re there to remind you that the sun will always be present, even if the clouds are blocking your view.