Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bamboo and Barcelona

The one thing that really stuck in my head from reading Greg Bell's Water the Bamboo book is the idea of using affirmations to change behavior. I have run across the concept before, but Bell makes a good, cogent case for changing behavior by changing thinking patterns by using affirmations. He advocates for choosing two or three positive statements and saying them out loud at least every morning and evening for 30 days. That should get these positive "affirmations" lodged in your head enough to make you believe them. Then, because ideas have consequences, your behavior will change to match your new beliefs. Sounds great. I did not sit right down and come up with my affirmations, although I had good intentions to do so (thus proving why I need to do so). But over the past few weeks, I have recognized some recurrent thoughts as being the affirmations I was looking for. We are in the middle of getting settled into a new (old) house and, although we moved in over two weeks ago, workers are still here finishing the remodeling, so furniture is crammed everywhere, boxes are stacked to the ceiling, and workers are there from breakfast to bedtime. We have spent evenings and weekends scrubbing cupboards, unpacking what we can, and trying to organize what we hope will be the house we live in for the duration. Under these circumstances, a couple of thoughts kept bubbling to the top of my head and I have now claimed them as my affirmations. The first is a line from one of my favorite movies, the quirky and adorable Barcelona, where the guy goes around muttering, "Every day in every way I am becoming a better and better person," apparently inspired by the Dale Carnegie books he reads. I repeat this line to myself as I unpack box after box of disorganized clutter that I have hauled around since my first college apartment, vowing to use what I have, fix what is broken, and get rid of what I do not want or need. The second is an offshoot of the first. The phrase "I am marching towards perfection" came out of my mouth when Hubby asked what I was doing, as I was scraping someone else's gooey 1970's shelf paper out of the bathroom drawers. I like the no-nonsense sound of "marching" rather than anything less absolute, like "striving" or, even worse, "struggling" towards perfection. Of course, this one is an aspirational affirmation -- I can only hope to move towards perfection, but can never attain it. The third is the one I practice the most: "I react to my husband with love and happiness." I say it over and over -- sometimes even saying out loud to Hubby before responding to him, although he thinks I'm batty. Other than trying to wallpaper together, or maybe have one of us teach the other to golf, I cannot think of anything as stressful as moving into and living in a house under construction. We'll see how this works. In the meantime, I have boxes to unpack.


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