What do you think when I say “Lighten Up” ?
I can think of several different ways to lighten up.
It could be your attitude. You could feel lighter emotionally, experience happiness and joy, ‘lightheartedness’, laughter.
It could be weight. Many people, especially at the beginning of each new year, want to release excess weight. I prefer not to call it ‘losing weight’ and I don’t like ‘diets’ since my experience is that they don’t work for me. I have had success in releasing excess fat, increasing lean muscle, and achieving my ideal weight.
I’m going to do a section on both of these topics below. I’ll start with attitude, since that is my specialty.
Lighten Up — Attitude
Life is more fun when we ‘lighten up’ and find ways to laugh and be joyful (filled with joy).
We can find ways to see the funny side of any situation. We can make the effort to see the blessing and gift in everything that happens.
One way to do this is to ask the question “What is the blessing, the gift in this?”
Years ago I went through a program called “Keys to the Kingdom” and learned that any time things were not going the way I wanted to say the following:
“This too is good, this too is God, this too is there for me, and I demand to see the blessing!”
It is amazing how well this works. In November 2010 I tripped and hit my face hard on the cement side walk. I broke my nose and split my lip. As I was sitting in the emergency room at the hospital, with ice packs on my swollen face, I kept repeating that in my mind. It made me laugh and also started the process of finding the blessing in that awful experience.
During the next month I had many opportunities to lighten up. I found a way to forgive myself for tripping and causing myself such pain. I found a way to stop the little video in my head that was replaying the event. I found a way to stop all the ‘what ifs’ that were not going to change the event. I will not say that I am totally clear of wishing that it had never happened. I will say that people were amazed at how quickly I recovered and healed. Within 8 days I was back at my Rotary club, where people who had seen me the day after the fall were amazed that I looked almost like myself again.
So, what did I do that helped me to ‘lighten up’ after that bad fall? I focused as much as possible on what I wanted, rather than on what bad thing had happened, and what I didn’t like as the result. Before I looked in the mirror the morning after, I took my professional photo and thought “I looked like this before and I can look like this again.” As I looked in the mirror, I said “I want to see how bad it is now” and then I quickly looked at my photo and focused on looking like that again. I continued to do this, continued to focus on the goal and not on how bad it was at that time. I imagined how good it would feel to look in the mirror and see myself being pretty again.
Every day I choose to be grateful for the good in my life. Like everyone else I have times when things don’t go the way I’d like. I say or do something I wish later I hadn’t said or done. Someone says something to me that upsets me. Or someone ignores me when it matters to me that they pay attention. I keep reminding myself to look for the good and focus on that instead of the ‘bad’ things.
Lighten Up — Weight
I prefer not to talk or think about ‘losing weight.’ I prefer to say and think “I choose to be my ideal weight.” I know that being my ideal weight means better health and more energy. It means my clothes fit better and I look better.
Years ago I listened to a woman talk about her Lighten Up program (unfortunately I don’t remember her name and have not been able to find her cassette tape program — that gives you some idea how long ago I listened to it). What I remember from her program, and the parts I’ve used myself, are listed below. I have modified the steps slightly so that they work well for me.
What she suggested as the first step, and perhaps the most challenging, is to stand naked in front of a mirror and accept and appreciate our body. We often are upset about the way we look. We tend to focus on what we don’t like. She suggested that we view the body in a positive way. I have found this helps me. We can appreciate and accept the body we have. In order to make changes, it is important to first accept and love what we have. By the way this is true whether it is the body, the mind, the home, the business or career, the car, or the life we live. It seems to work the same way for everything. Once we accept and love, then we can change if we want to.
I know that the way I talk to my body is important. If I am upset and complain that my body is not supporting me, things get worse. When I am kind and gentle with my body, appreciate what I have and then focus on what I want, things get better. I have learned over the years to improve the way I talk to myself and to my body.
When I made the commitment years ago to be my ideal weight, I went into partnership with my body. I didn’t want my body to get scared that I was going to do something drastic and cause it harm. Some diets that I’ve heard people use scare me, they seem unsafe and unhealthy. I choose to release fat cells in a gentle and gradual way. I let my body know that I will do my best to take care of it, to keep it healthy. This is my responsibility. This body is the vehicle that supports me as I live my life. I want it to last and be healthy. Without our health, we have no quality of life. A healthy body gives us quality of life.
In that original Lighten Up program that I mentioned earlier, her second step was to daily spend time appreciating each part of the body. She suggested to do it either in the shower or after the shower while putting lotion on. I like to do it in the shower. She suggested doing it with the hand, not using a wash cloth or anything that gets between the skin of the hand and the body parts. For example, as I rub soap over my arm I think the thought “I appreciate my arms and hands for helping me to manipulate objects, when I dress myself, drive my car, and do my work.” I use thoughts similar to that when I rub my legs and feet. I think about my heart and internal organs, and how much I appreciate their work to keep my body alive and functioning well. I appreciate my eyes and how I see everything with love and joy. I actually improved my eye sight years ago by saying several times a day “I see clearly with love and joy.” and “I now create the life I love to look at.”
The result of the process described above is that when I am ready to eat, I allow my body to help me choose what is good for me, and how much is good for me. I remember to stop and consider “is this healthy for me, and will eating this help me achieve my ideal weight?”
I like to imagine myself being my ideal weight, having energy, looking and feeling good in my clothes. I remember to focus on what I desire, and not on the things I don’t want.