Four light-enhancing skills to master this month
Light is our favorite of Zyia Active’s four pillars and also the most challenging to define. We like to think of Light as anything that lifts our spirits while also making us feel aligned with our values and connected to others.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
“There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
– Edith Wharton
Retrain Your Brain—One Skill at a Time
If you’re caught in a spiral of stress and negativity right now, you can’t just will yourself to think differently. Much as we’d like it to be otherwise, human brains don’t work like that.
The good news is, you can teach yourself to give and receive more Light. All it takes are practice, active choice, and hundreds of little resets when you get off track.
This month, we challenge you to practice with Light using a new tool each week. Don’t try all four at once. Circus performers don’t learn to ride the unicycle and juggle at the same time. Give yourself space and grace to practice one skill for a full week, then move on to the next.
Week One: Self Talk
We talk to ourselves dozens, maybe hundreds of times a day. And many of us say things we’d never say to another person. But what we say matters—even if we’re only saying it in our heads. Negative self-talk erodes confidence and reduces our productivity and motivation.
Turn around that inner voice by taking these three steps several times a day:
- Notice it: Pay attention to those moments you start practicing negative self-talk.
- Challenge it. Is there any evidence for the thought you had? What would you say to a friend in this situation?
- Change it. List your positive attributes or the next step you’ll take to make the improvement you want.
Rumination is the opposite of uplifting self-talk. It means dwelling on something you said or did and mentally kicking yourself for it. People who fight depression cite rumination as one of their biggest mental traps. When you realize you’re ruminating, it’s time to reset. Distract yourself, make an action plan, or talk the problem through with someone you trust. Write down your thoughts and allow yourself to move on.Comparing ourselves to others can fuel a lot of our negative self-talk. If this sounds familiar, you owe it yourself to look into steps for curbing this damaging behavior.
Week Two: Celebrate Everything
It’s human nature to notice only the bumps in the road and ignore the miles of smooth pavement. But if you’re reading this article, you have much to be thankful for: you’re alive, someone taught you to read, you have internet access and electricity. You might even have a tiny technological marvel that fits in your pocket, but packs computing power never dreamed of just fifty years ago.
Life is full of reasons to celebrate. Spend this week noticing them and taking a moment to marvel and feel grateful. When you see something to celebrate in others, tell them!
This celebration applies to yourself, as well. Keep flexing those self-talk muscles.
Week Three: Focus Your Light
What we focus on grows. It grows in our minds and our realities, becoming a more significant part of our lives and taking more of our attention.
Unfortunately, we too often focus our attention on what we don’t want. We worry or complain about everything that isn’t perfect in our lives, and we stay stuck.
This week, practice laser focus on your goals and dreams, not the obstacles.
If you’re working toward a fitness goal, recognize your progress, and plan some fun additions to your next workouts. Do not open Strava to obsess over how many more workouts your friends were able to get in, or how fast they can run.
If you want to keep the house clean, find ways to make tidying fun, rewarding, or social with your family. Play music to wash dishes, play games with laundry. Do not walk through the house with a dirty dish aloft, shouting to know who left it on the couch.
In short, focus only on what moves you forward and keeps you motivated. Actively choose not to look back or dwell on those distracting bumps.
Week Four: Align Actions and Words with Values
Most of us have at least a rough idea of how our ideal self looks. This version of us might be more patient or have less ego. Our ideal self never skimps on self-care like workouts and meditation and always tips generously.
And then there’s the “real us” that lives with all of life’s daily frustrations and stresses.
This week, instead of reacting instinctively to all life’s triggers, let’s practice taking a breath before responding.
Someone cuts you off in traffic. You can make a rude hand gesture that satisfies your anger and ego. Or, you can take a calming breath and put a little more space between your cars.
Which response will leave you feeling lighter in an hour? Which one brings you closer to the person you strive to become? Which action reflects Light—to the other driver, your passengers, and onlookers?
There’s a reason we saved this skill for last. It’s tough! It will also take much longer than a week to master—probably a lifetime! But remember, it’s the act of continually trying to do better that lets Light seep through the cracks, not mastery.
All this month we’re practicing letting more Light in, and shining more Light out. Join us on Facebook for fun, inspiration, and prizes. Play along with us by tagging @ZyiaActive and using the hashtag #LightZyia.