So I've been neglecting to write this entry for weeks, ever since hfcougar got the prize for being the first person to notice that I'm wearing one of those silly rubber wristbands. In fact, I've been wearing it for three full months now. Folks apparently haven't noticed because it's long-sleeve season, and that's okay -- the thing is for me, not as a public statement. But I promised Heather that I'd write up what it is, and a current discussion in another friend's LJ reminded me that I've been meaning to talk about the value of disciplined mental practice.
The thing is, I've got a bad habit: existing mentally anywhere but where I am. It's an easy habit to fall into. On the one hand, there is stewing: spending all my time rehashing old mistakes, engaging in "I shoulda"s and self-flagellating myself over them. This is unproductive -- it's one thing to learn from one's mistakes, but quite another to be unable to get past them. OTOH, there is dreaming: spending so much time thinking about the wonderful things that *could* be that I don't get around to making them actually happen. That's fun, but ultimately unsatisfying -- dreaming too much doesn't actually get you what you want and need.
I don't remember precisely what kick-started my doing something about it, but I'd bet it was reflecting on someone (probably herooftheage) attributing their general good spirits to trying to enjoy the here-and-now, rather than spending too much time elsewhere. That made eminent good sense to me, but I couldn't simply wave my hand and change my mental pathways: bad habits are always hard to break. I decided I needed a sort of string around my finger, to keep reminding me. The only way you develop good mental habits is by practicing them, frequently and regularly.
How to create such a reminder? It occurred to me that there's already a common way to do that -- indeed, so common and trite it's often ignored by most of us: those silly rubber wristbands. Yes, nowadays they're mostly worn as almost a tribal affiliation, a way to be "in", but the original concept of the Live Strong bracelet, as I understand it, was to teach a basic lesson. So I inquired of mighty Google, discovered that there are a *zillion* sites that make these things, chose 24 Hour Wristbands more or less at random, and ordered one. (Surprisingly cheap, BTW -- less than $10 for a custom band, including shipping.) It came in in late November (just before Zingdom died, which was probably very good timing), and I've been wearing it ever since.
What does it say? It has a 2-part message, fore and aft, and both parts are important. The front says, "Live in the Moment". That's the basic reminder. Don't spend too much time mulling over the past, nor too much dreaming about the future; instead, remember to pay attention to what's in front of me right now. The back, equally important, says "and *enjoy* it!". Because there is pretty much always something to enjoy in the here-and-now, if one is minded to look.
It helps. A good mindset comes with practice, and bit by bit I'm practicing. It was damned good timing: with the wrong mindset, the loss of Zingdom (just as I was starting to get somewhere there) could have been crushing; instead, it became an opportunity. And there's something oddly comforting about having that little physical relic when I get too stressed, to remind me to calm down, refocus, and get back on track...