how having a healthy outlook is like a workout

Today we ask that you take responsibility for your perception and experience of life.

While you cannot control external events or other people, the one thing in life you do have a measure of control over is your own perception and experience.

There are two modes of perception:

The first might be called “expansive perception.”

Expansive perception is open.  You are open to new experiences, possibilities, growth, and learning.  Your basic belief about life and reality is that it is good.  You trust the universe, and have faith that there is a purpose and meaning to your life, and life experiences.  You are playful, and humorous.  You have a strong desire to expand your own health and well-being, and the well-being of others.  You are deeply appreciative of all that is good in life.  You can appreciate the “simple things.”  You awaken in the morning with a sense of excitement about what the day will bring, and fall asleep at night with a sense of satisfaction.

Limiting perception is closed.  You dislike change, you have no desire to be challenged or to grow.  You crave comfort and safety, and only take in information that confirms the beliefs you already have, asking you to learn nothing.  You don’t think have to grow because you’re already a “grown-up,” and growing is something only children do.  You believe you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  You are often humorless, and take yourself very seriously.  You complain all the time, about everything.  Nothing is ever good enough for you.  Life is terrible.  The world is broken beyond repair.  You live in a “dog-eat-dog” world in which you must fight and claw your way to getting and holding on to what is yours.  Other people are the competition, the enemy.  There is no meaning or purpose.  Faith is for naive fools.  You don’t take good care of yourself; why bother.  You wake up in the morning with a sense of dread, and at night you are so plagued by anxieties and terrors that you sleep poorly, if at all.

These are the two ways of perceiving life.

Now here’s the trick:

It’s a choice. 

You can choose expansive perception, or limiting perception.  You can make this choice at every moment.

If you find yourself in limiting perception, with all the misery that entails, you can actively shift your perception back into expansiveness without anything changing in your external reality.

Only of the most effective ways to quickly access expanded perception is through gratitude.  Consciously think about what you are grateful for in life.  Find one thing you can appreciate.  Then find another.  And another.  It can be a very small thing.  The important thing is to feel the feeling of appreciation.

Engage in loving action.  If you have a pet, go cuddle your pet.  Go for a walk outdoors, and make a real effort to appreciate the beauty around you.  Notice the trees, the sky, flowers.  When you eat a meal, take time to appreciate all the effort that went into the creation of the meal, including the growing of the ingredients.  

Make a point of thanking people, and honoring them for what they do, no matter how small.

Engage in practices that increase the well-being of your body and mind.  Meditate.  Go to a yoga class.  Choose a healthy meal over processed munchies.

It takes conscious effort to raise your energy out of limiting perception into expansive perception.  It takes dedication, and practice.  Sometimes it is extremely difficult, especially when you are surrounded by people who are stuck in limiting consciousness, or when you come from a family that is strongly rooted in limiting consciousness.

Raising your perception, at will, is like developing your abdominal muscles.  When you first start to develop abdominal muscles, they may feel very atrophied.  You can barely use them.  You’re exhausted after a few sit-ups.  It is only through regular, preferably daily, practice that these muscles can develop, and you gain real strength in your “core.”  

Your consciousness becomes strong enough to withstand the negativity of family members, bosses, coworkers, and people on TV and the internet.  You can enter a strong energetic field of limiting consciousness, and still remain expansive.  

Please build your consciousness muscles, through meditation, gratitude practices, and good physical and mental hygiene (i.e. choosing not to consume things you know to be unhealthy, whether it’s food or reality TV). 

The stronger these muscles get, the more you’ll be able to dwell in expansive perception, and resist the constant drag of limiting perception that you will encounter in daily life.  As a result, you will experience far more peace, joy, and creativity.