Friday, August 27, 2010

What Color Is Your ... Cantaloupe?

If someone were to give you a magic wand, and to tell you it really had the power to instantly transform your world, you would use it, right? You would have to be crazy not to. Well, you do have one, but it is shaped more like a cantaloupe than a sparkly long stick. It is your brain.

Since our interpretation of all experiences in life emerges from the brain, any change in our brain, in turn, changes our reality. Reality, after all, is your brain’s unique way of making sense of what happens around you.

Merely by changing your thinking, you can change your world. It is that simple. Through neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change its’ physical form and function in response to actions, perceptions and even thinking and imagining) whatever you do repeatedly becomes the default pathway in your brain. Any situation, any person, can be seen from many perspectives. You can choose your view and, with enough consistent practice, this becomes the norm in your brain. Ta da!

Take, for instance, someone in your life who is a royal pain in the ass. I can think of a couple really quick with no problem. Yes, this person may provide lots of situations inviting grief and aggravation. You can see them only from that point of view or you can back up, broaden the view, and look at them more objectively. Acknowledge the attached emotions, but do not let them color your thoughts. This person can also be seen as a teacher. Yep. You read that right.

I am used to living by myself. Recently, I not only had my two sons here, but also another 19 year old male. Boy, I thought I was this serene, centered, enlightened being…until then. I found myself getting agitated at stupid, petty things. I found I am really sensitive to the sweaty boy smell in a not so good way. Instead of pointing the finger at them, I had to look at what this activated in me and what this experience had to teach me. Patience. Tolerance. Compassion. Working on it.

On a much bigger scale, while I have been divorced for around 6 years, my ex-husband finds far too many reasons to continue to disagree. Stupid me! I thought divorce was supposed to put an end to all the bickering. It just makes it much more expensive because, now, we have to do it through lawyers and can’t just scream directly at each other. He has been and continues to be one of my greatest teachers. Seriously. He has provided me with countless growth opportunities. I have grown in strength, courage, and self confidence tremendously each damn time. One day soon, I am gonna graduate.

Pema Chodron, an American Buddhist nun philosopher, gives the unique advice of going directly into the situations from which you want to instinctively run in her book “The Places That Scare You.” Therein lies the opportunity for the biggest personal growth.

According to her, we always have a choice. We can let the people and circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly angry and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us more compassionate. This wisdom (or magic wand) is always available to us. We tend to block it with habitual reactions and unconscious living.

So, pick up your magic wand, wave it in the air with a big “Whoop!” and get busy. This does not mean that *POOF* you can make everything just as you want it. It means that *POOF* you are able to find peace, joy, and acceptance no matter what happens.


  1. Love this. You have graduated.

  2. Great post! You have grown so much since we first met almost a year ago now. Or at least you hid all of this inside of you. Keep it up. You are graduating everyday. Oh, and I,do still like my canteloupes orange thank you.

  3. Nora and Tony, thanks so much! I think we ought to have a big graduation celebration! Woohoo! Whadya think! Because you are right. I make the passing grade every day in which I live my life in peace and happiness.

    It has been and will continue to be a journey and a learning process which only gets better. They say at yoga: the better it gets, the better it gets. It is pretty darn good now!

  4. Great post! We really DO have a choice in how we view the world around us, and the hardest situations -- and people -- have much more to teach us than those who barely catch our attention.

    I think that difficulty can actually be a sign of real growth -- it means that we've passed a point of ease and are ready to learn something new. I think my life would be just fine without some of the difficulties I've had, but it would not be the same life I have now, so it's all good.

    Keep up the great work!


  5. BB...I LOVE your perspective in that the level of challenge comes with a certain ability. Never thought of it that way before. My life is an advanced placement course! :)

    The more challenges I have the easier it gets to handle the and the more peace I find. I really love the wisdom in the saying "If you like where you are, you can't complain about how you got there."

    Here's to being able to carry bowls of soup upstairs and water for the cats!

  6. Very well said Debbie, i like the fact that we can always switch the way we operate our own brain, instead of just being the reaction of what happens to us.

  7. Hubert, I agree with you totally. It is great. It is like having super powers and puts us completely in the driver's seat. The road is gonna have heart thumping twists and turns and pot holes even. Expect them. It is our job to keep the car on the road. I plan to! Happy travels.

  8. HiYa Debbie,
    I love the magic wand (and cantaloupe)! Love it!

    You're speaking my language, lovely. And, good for you to see the hardships and challenging circumstances you're facing for what they are, growth opportunities. Seeing them for what they are might not make them easier, but I can speak from experience and say that I do think these experiences help to frame my experience.

    I hope someday we can meet, I'll bring my magic wand, you bring yours, and we'll have a blast of a party. POOF!
    Excellent article, once again.

  9. Lori, howdy and backatcha! I know you have your own set of very challenging circumstances. Like we have discussed before, I really believe it is because of these difficulties we are as awesome and exceptional as we are. Seriously!

    They have forced us to seek and rise above and beyond. Plus, they make for a very rich life. Look forward to having a *POOF*-ing party with you one day!