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Walk the Talk

Maybe you’ve heard the parable: A simple man in tattered clothing stands on a park bench chanting, “Peace, love, tranquility,” over and over again. A wise man in a business suit happens by and hears the simple man repeating his chant.
The wise man stands listening for a few moments, then shakes his head in disgust and says, “You’ll never change the world, standing there chanting, ‘Peace, love, tranquility.’”

Stopping to look at the wise man in his pressed suit and shiny shoes, the simple man smiles. “I’m not trying to change the world. I’m trying to keep the world from changing me.”

The simple man’s message rings true for many people today who find themselves seeking not to change the world but to keep themselves peaceful, loving and tranquil. Healthy living means more than just eating right, getting regular exercise and thinking positive thoughts. It is also about embracing ways to keep overall health and mental wellness in the forefront of our busy lives.

If you are thinking about taking steps toward achieving your own peace, love and tranquility, consider these five simple steps you can take now. It all begins when you START: speech; thoughts; actions; routine; and teach.

Speech: Changing unhealthy patterns in your speech can make a huge difference in your outlook on life and how you are perceived. Choose positive statements, especially when speaking to children or people who are easily influenced. Even tone of voice can weave underlying attitudes into what you say.

You may call it “road rage” but, to a young passenger, lashing out at other motorists may be the only visible example of how grown-ups handle everyday interactions with others.

Thoughts: Think that you can do something and you are already on your way to actually doing it. Far more than blind optimism or a facade of happy thoughts, positive mental attitude can actually steer your body into acting according to the picture in your mind. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, in his 1952 book The Power of Positive Thinking, wrote, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” Today, more than 50 years since this book was published, we recognize the power of the mind and its ability to control pain and even heal the body.

A BBC News article, published earlier this year, reports on studies done with cancer patients and the correlation between their mental attitude and their chances of survival. One study found that women with breast cancer who felt helpless (and hopeless) were more likely to die or relapse within five years of diagnosis.

It is more important to “walk the walk” than to “talk the talk” when it comes to self-improvement and wellness. Simply talking about the changes you’d like to make and not advancing to acting the changes can be worse than not starting at all because it may leave you feeling disappointed.

Once you set reasonable goals for yourself–such as “I will not react in anger to others’ negative actions”–think about your goal daily and even write it down in a place where you can see it often. Begin by keeping track of the times you do well and the times you don’t. Congratulate yourself when you succeed, and don’t be too hard on yourself when you don’t. Tomorrow is another day, and a new opportunity to practice what you believe.

Routine: Researchers have pinpointed the chemical dopamine as being central to helping our brain embrace new habits. Strive to take some time each day to visualize the things you want to accomplish and repeat them until they   become a part of your daily life, like brushing teeth or making coffee. Setting up reminders of your goals, even as simple as small notes that you can see throughout the day, will help keep you on track.

Teaching: Stephen Covey III, the best-selling author and speaker, wrote the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989. Covey released The Eighth Habit, a volume larger than the first, last month. He challenges: “Find your voice, and inspire others to find theirs.” Covey, father of nine children and 43 grandchildren says, “Don’t ignore that longing to make a difference.”

By applying these steps of managing your speech, thoughts and actions and establishing them as routine within daily living, you will reflect to your children and others close to you the wellness for which you strive.                 

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York