The beliefs we regard as truth have great potential to influence our wellness — for good and bad
By Liza Horan, Editor
If the mind, body and spirit form the human operating system, the beliefs each of us hold are the programme we’re running. That programme running your system influences your experience and capabilities. And from time to time, we need to “check for updates,” or even uninstall an old programme to upgrade to a one. If we don’t, we risk poor performance or a full crash. In human terms: ill health and burnout. That’s how powerful our beliefs can be toward wellness, I believe.
“Anything is possible,” is a core belief of mine. It’s in the American DNA, for sure, and exponentially so if you hold the New York City mentality (which I do as my parents are NYC natives and I’ve lived most of my adult life there.) The great melting pot is full of resources and bounding with endless opportunity and energy. It’s magical, exciting, fast, crowded, competitive, and offers the full spectrum of “best” to “worst.”
It’s a place where dreams can become reality, no matter your starting point. The city cares not for your history, instead shining its spotlight on what lies before you. It’s about hope, vision, perseverance, and reward. “Anything is possible” is more than a belief: it’s a culture, a way of being.
In excess, this positive mindset of opportunity can impose burden. The fact is that NYC standards are very high and competition is fierce. While it’s also a whole lot of fun — filled with diverse people and experiences — the focus is achievement. It can be a wonderful propellant and a cruel ruler because hidden within is the responsibility that if “it” doesn’t happen, it’s not the fault of the environment — the failure is on you.
So, while this belief positively frames everything, and optimism is good, the suggestion of total control is a myth. It’s easy to feel that more could have been done.
It’s exhausting. And there’s pain in the delta between potentiality and reality. When is enough enough?
“Anything is possible” is a belief that informs my thoughts, feelings and actions — the positive ones and the negative ones. So it can affect my wellness by colouring self-esteem, energy, sleep, habits for eating and exercising, and behaviour toward myself and others. There’s a direct line between what we think to how we feel to the wellness of mind, body and spirit.
When you’re in it, you don’t even realise it. It took me getting out of this always-on environment — moving to the UK in 2015 — to realise I was wound up in this non-stop awareness of the pressure of opportunity, as were strangers, colleagues and friends. My pressure came from within; I’ve never used others as a measuring stick for myself. And I don’t need prodding by others to “try harder” or “work smarter” or “do better”; the internal pressure I can place on myself is the stuff diamonds are made of.
Revisit beliefs by shifting perspective
Moving to London was a long-held dream come true. And as a digital product and strategy consultant moving from Silicon Alley to Silicon Roundabout (Shoreditch), the beat of my industry in a global city was expected to be nearly the same as NYC.
But then I saw that people left work anywhere between 5 and 6 p.m., and they were inaccessible for work matters while on vacation. People took those holidays even in the midst of major project deadlines! I couldn’t believe how disrespectful people were about work and their colleagues. Shocking! This would never happen in New York! Is there no sense of urgency? How can they compete? How does anything move forward?
This was some “software update”!
I slowly realised that the culture here valued one’s right to a well-rounded way of life between being ‘on’ and ‘off’ for work. Here society sets the boundaries for you, whereas in NYC setting boundaries like that showed you weren’t committed or you couldn’t handle it. I know people, working in all sectors — from PR agencies and media to finance and tech — who had to be on call 24/7 or risk losing their jobs; their bosses made this crystal clear. We were always reminded that there was a line of 10 people behind us who’d love to have that job.
Now I’m on the other side of this belief, preferring to live on the yang of “anything is possible,” not the yin of constant pressure to perform to seemingly impossible standards.
Beliefs can flex
Unless based on our own direct experience, we can form beliefs without knowing if they are true for us. Sometimes we take a leap of faith to believe something, which is fine, but we must remain flexible and open to other beliefs.
Did any of your beliefs shift a bit in 2020 after hearing all the voices of experience surrounding systemic racism, transgender rights, controversial leadership, corruption? Mine did. I didn’t realise the extent of injustice that exists. My empathy toward others has expanded and my conviction on certain topics has strengthened. Public discourse on important realities has led to education and the consideration of others’ experiences beliefs. Our own beliefs can be modified by our own experience and by hearing or witnessing those of others.
We have permission to shift our beliefs as we gain experience and insight throughout our lives. Being aware of them is the first step to considering how they affect our wellness; questioning how they might shift to being less hurtful and more healing is enlightening.
Occasionally checking our beliefs is a good practice. It’s a matter of reconsidering what version of the truth resonates most with each of us. This will either strengthen one’s outlook or start questioning the weaker ones. Physical, mental and spiritual wellness because it allows us room to shift and evolve. Instead of believing blindly, we can have faith in our truths that are explored and considered.
“We are here for experience, and experience is a preparation to know the Truth when we meet it.”
– Henry Ford, American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company.
#believe #beliefs #truth #wellnessmoonshot
This feature is part of Mindstream’s participation in the Wellness Moonshot, an awareness campaign for a world free of preventable disease that’s led by The Global Wellness Institute. See our collection of reflections for the January 2021 theme of BELIEVE.
Mindstream invites you to join us by exploring each theme on the mission for a healthier world.
Learn more about The Wellness Moonshot on GlobalWellnessInstitute.com.