Can our thoughts change anything? That’s an ongoing theme in my writing and my studies and something that, at this point, I can’t understand how anyone doesn’t believe it.
I was raised with this belief. On my wall as a child I had a poster that said, “If you believe it, you can become it”. My father would often tell me to watch the words that I said to myself, as I would believe them. If I complained of being tired, I was really just making myself feel more tired. When I doodled in my notebooks that I loved a boy in my teen years, my father told me that I was actually hypnotizing myself into those thoughts. That any thought, repeated, especially subconsciously would become a belief in my mind, and therefore true.
We all have a million thoughts a day, some good some bad. We all tell ourselves things and then love or hate the thing when it comes to fruition, but to me, the most important thoughts that people have are the thoughts of how they feel.
When I’m on social media I’m constantly seeing jokes and memes about how much everyone is miserable and everyone hates their lives. Depression and anxiety are at an all time high and medication is being passed around like candy. Now, while I’m not opposed to medication as a whole, I do feel that we, as a society are overly medicated. Everyone believe in the power of instantly feeling better as long as it’s prescribed by a doctor, as long as it’s “science”.
Yet, if someone says to “cure” most forms of common depression (I’m not talking about severe clinical depression.. though it can help) that one just needs to cut junk food (especially sugar) and get some exercise (especially outside) and meditate/practice gratitude.. they are considered a crack pot.. but science says it’s true.
We, as humans, are completely controlled by how brains and our nervous system. Our feelings are just a consequence of glands secreting substances and our neurons firing. If we need to feel happy we need chemicals in our system like Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins.. so we take artificial ones to trick our brain into being happy.. but our bodies can actually make those chemicals themselves in simple ways. We can think about something happy and we automatically smile and feel better. We can hug someone we love. We can even listen to music.
It’s amazing to me how much outside stimuli can change one’s whole perspective. I was driving home the other day after a long hot cranky 5 year old afternoon and I was feeling very drained. Not so much depressed at this point, but just exhausted. One of those days when I was thinking dinner at 4 and bedtime at 6.. then an old song came on. Ironically it was a song about remembering old times (New Kids on the Block; I remember when… yup.. that’s my life) and I was instantly transported back to my 8th grade semi-formal. I could remember my dress and my friends and a bittersweet feeling rushed over me.
I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t sad.. but I also wasn’t tired anymore. I felt spirited, just as I did 30 years ago at the prospect of leaving behind middle school and starting up with all my friends at the high school. I remembered the petty fights and the ridiculous clothes and the cute boys and I actually giggled to myself. I was no longer sitting in my truck with a cranky kid after fighting with him about EVERYTHING that day. I was in my middle school courtyard on a beautiful June evening laughing with my friends and wishing Joey McIntyre was actually singing to me.
I have had similar experiences with smells and sunsets, and even seeing my son sleeping at the end of a long day.. when everything seems to disappear and the only thing that matters is that moment, that second in all of time. No one can tell me that my thoughts don’t create my reality. I know that I don’t have to be miserable just because the world is not perfect.. the world is filled with perfection.. I just have to be happy and open enough to see them.