Mental Flexibility

I learned something this week and I feel a little foolish that it has taken me so long to apply some of my own advice. While taking both my 2 year old and 9 month old grocery shopping (every mothers idea of fun…), my 2 year old asked to not be in the cart. My first thought was, “No way…I will be chasing him all over the place with the baby in the front carrier, my cart and purse unattended. This will be a disaster!” My second thought was, “We’ve never tried this and he loves being helpful. I need to give him a chance to make this a fun experience instead of a constricting one. Additionally, he may actually tire himself out this way.” I decided to let go of control and went with my second thought. I explained to him he could walk and help mommy so long as he stayed by the cart. He agreed and to my surprise he was amazing. He didn’t grab things off the shelf but would point and say, “What's this, mommy?” I would tell him and he would repeat it and we’d move on. He had fun helping put things in the cart and I enjoyed watching how he felt so big being out of the cart, helping and walking with mommy. Flexibility can be challenging as most of us want to do things that are safe and within our comfort zones but if you dare to step out from the conventional, with a positive outlook, you may surprise yourself and not only have more fun but learn something new. Flexibility is to be adaptable to our environment and still be successful in our goals of living a happy life with our families, not just making it to bed time!

If you are reading this then you have probably read other articles and studies linking happiness and fitness together. It is true…when your body is healthy, then your mind benefits as does your mood from the amazing stimulation of “happy” hormones (such as serotonin) from exercise. That being said, there is so much more to being happy or in a good mood. To be flexible is to accept that life and circumstances will never be fully in your control. What do you have control over….? Well, you really only have control over yourself and how you respond or react to the changes happening around you. Happiness and stress are choices. Of course that is easy to say and recognize when everything around us is going well but how do we choose happiness when we are short on time getting out the door to a commitment and your kiddo trips and face plants into his batman toy (my weekend) causing him to need stitches?

You take a deep breath, deal with the situations as calmly as possible and look at the big picture.

When we are able to step back to view the big picture, we are able to put our inconveniences and stressors into perspective. Sometimes that means looking at the really big picture, such as, “I am blessed to live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and I have choices that would not exist if I were a woman in another country.” This helps redirect your thoughts to positive thinking. The healthier our thoughts and meditations can be the better our overall health will be. A couple of months ago I challenged my readers to compliment others in an effort to redirect focus from ourselves to positive focus on others. This should be a practice we use not only with our kids but with strangers. It truly helps you feel good! Please do not confuse my message of being flexible with life circumstances as an excuses to not to exercise. Flexibility is fitting fitness into other areas when unable to make it to the gym within childcare hours. Remember those exercise essentials from my Summer Fitness Part 1 Blog? That’s when those come in!

A client of mine recently made a comment about kiddos that really stuck. She said, “The days are LONG but the years are so SHORT!” The struggle is real but there is so much truth to that saying! Life keeps moving faster and faster, so take time to choose flexibility and think positively, even when your whole day goes nothing like you had planned!

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