It Begins with You – “A” or “E”?
“u” is not the first letter in the alphabet used by most English-speaking people but perhaps it should be. I know, I know. Usually I am advocating helping others and communal thinking but the truth is, you cannot be or do good for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. That includes doing something good for yourself – something healthy as well as fun and productive.
If you are an optimistic thinking, then congratulations! You are already taking important first steps towards good self-care. The entire world is not going to revolve around you nor are world populations going to adapt their way of living just to please you. However, Harvard researchers have scientifically proven that being an optimist leads to good heart health and reduced cardiovascular issues even for those with other risk factors such as obesity, smoking, or advanced age.
We all have stress and in some amounts it can help build stronger bodies. High stress levels are not healthy. Pessimists have increased stress levels which affects overall physical and mental health.
None of the things we have discussed or will discuss are possible if you dread getting up in the morning or if your stress has such a detrimental effect on you that your health is suffering. “We are what we think” is a saying attributed to Buddha. When we expect negative things, then the odds are that negative things will happen. Is it kismet, fate, or karma? That has not been scientifically proven. Maybe it is just our perspective. Regardless, looking for the good in life is a proven factor is aging gracefully and being healthy.
Let’s assume you have decided to make this ordinary time of Pentecost into an extraordinary time by doing good. Then the question is not what to do or how to do it, after all we are going to discuss one hundred and ninety-six ways to do something positive or good by the end of this series. The real question is ….”A” or “E”?
The word affect is a verb, grammatically speaking, in the English language. Basically it means to have an impact on something or someone. In writing this blog I am hoping to affect your thinking and encourage you to do something positive to benefit all of us, the family of mankind. Since a verb is an action word, to affect something or someone is to bring about change.
Effect is most commonly used as a noun, the result of an action or, as we just discussed, a thought process. While I am encouraging you to affect someone in this series by positive action, the intent is that your actions will create a productive effect or result. “Affect” refers to the doing; “Effect” denotes the end result of that doing or action.
Effect also can be defined in another way. It can also mean someone’s personal belongings. This might seem confusing and yes, it can be but I like that effect is both the result and the possession. It encourages us to be accountable for our actions. No one is going to score a perfect rating on our actions. We all make mistakes. This is where thinking positive can keep us from letting past actions become a future death sentence. Thinking positive people also have lower blood pressure and sleep better.
Today the first step you should take is to think positively. Negative thinking narrows one’s field of vision. Imagine yourself swimming in the shallow waters of a beautiful ocean resort. Suddenly someone cries “Shark!” You no longer are focused on the rest of the people on the beach but only on getting yourself out of the water. This is a healthy instinct of self-preservation but your focus has also become extremely self-centered.
Positive emotions help us to broaden our field of vision and imagine what is possible instead of seeing only the negative and dire outcomes. Maybe yesterday really was the worst day of life. Today really can be the first day of the rest of your life. Take care of yourself and start the day off thinking of possibilities. Share a smile with someone and if you can’t spend seven minutes like we discussed last week with seven exercises to help your body, at least put down that cigarette.
Maybe you really don’t have time for going to the movies but take the time hurrying on your commute to notice the flowers along your path. A healthy person can accomplish much more than one who is thinking or feeling negative. We all have time for a smile and the first smile of the day should be a smile to you. As Walt Whitman once said, “If you keep your face towards the sunshine, the shadows will fall behind you.” With one ordinary affect, you will create an extraordinary effect.