In the days leading up to my 35th birthday, I spent more time than I’m proud to admit feeling mopey and old, bitter and overly emotional. Life isn’t a race. Logically, I know it’s not a race. I reminded myself repeatedly that it’s not a race.
I still felt like I was behind and losing badly.
To combat my ridiculousness, I would practice a specific negative visualization and, since it kind of helped, I thought I’d share it with you.
Each time I felt old, I would immediately conjure up 97-year-old-me and become her for a bit. My eyesight is glossy and unfocused thanks to cataracts. I still notice my painfully thin, white hair and the deep-set wrinkles lining every part of my face. I’m stooped over and shrunken in height. Blemishes and age spots cover my hands and legs. I spend most of my time sitting because walking for any meaningful period of time is painful. My world is tiny.
I study 97-year-old me in great detail and listen to every body part that requests attention. Nearly all of them ask for something. I nod and murmur in sympathy.
And then I open my eyes and feel relieved and grateful. 97-year-old me would really enjoy living this day as a 35-year-old and thinks I look fabulous. She marvels at my skin and rolls her eyes at the tiny wrinkles I point out from certain angles and in certain lights. Breathing in deeply, she notes with satisfaction that my lungs are clear. She thanks my back and my legs for their generous support and suggests I go and enjoy a long walk. My world is huge.
Relieved and grateful.
Instead of feeling old and wishing for my twenties, can I feel excited that I’m retired and no longer have to work a real job? Rather than feel old and long for my childhood, can I appreciate the fact that I can go pee without raising my hand?
Relieved and grateful.
That seems to be the secret to happiness. Appreciate what you have while you have it. Take care of what the universe has loaned you by showering everything with praise. Instead of fretting over the hairs in the drain after each shower, can I laud the hair that’s still on my head and still trying to please me? Gratitude is the seed of happiness. These negative visualizations help me remember that.
It doesn’t always work, but sometimes it works. Sometimes is better than never.