My world isn’t the same as your world.
In my world, the sun shines with warmth and optimism. The trees glisten with joy and serenity. The flowers bloom with beauty and wonder. That is, so long as I’m in a solid state of mind. If I’m not, the world becomes a much different place. The sun no longer shines with warmth but with aggression. The trees not with joy but with sinister intent.
And the flowers don’t bloom with beauty but with a dulled vibrance. As if their shine has been stripped away.
The world changes depending on your mental state. Mine isn’t the same as yours. And even my world today isn’t the same as my world yesterday. Here are five times that your mental state impacts the physical world around you – and what you can do about it.
My car hums from one red light to another. The day is bright, but my mood is dark. I park my car and angrily walk into the donut shop. I don’t want to be there. But I seemingly have no other choice.
“What can I get you?” the person behind the counter asks. I order three donuts to-go.
I drive home with the windows down. All the while, I talk to myself like a lunatic. I’m trying to figure out why I bought donuts even though I didn’t want them. Later that day, it occurs to me: I am bored. Sweets are an easy way to light up my brain. To make me feel good without doing anything good.
A bored mental state can lead you to consume junk in your physical state. Part of me knew that which was why I was so irritated at the donut shop. I have since set a new goal for myself: go on a full-day adventure once a week. That was what I was really craving.
Lurking in the Shadows
Anxiety plagued me in college. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. Regardless, it followed me around anyway. In the depths of it, the world felt dark and spooky. Like a perpetual state of fall. Not in the cozy sweaters and pumpkin foods kind of way. More in the everything is eerie and shadowy kind of way.
The world wasn’t actually any dimmer than usual. Just my perspective was.
An anxious mental state can lead you to be on edge in your physical state. With therapy, medication, and work, my anxiety has become a lot more manageable. Now everything is a lot brighter – even when it’s dark out.
The rain wasn’t heavy. It was more of a misting with a side of sprinkle. And I was all about it.
I grabbed my jacket from the trunk. The one that I kept on hand for occasions just like this. I was wearing sandals but happened to have running shoes sitting on my passenger chair. I didn’t have socks, yet I didn’t mind. Grinning, I put the shoes on anyway.
I was in a loving mood. The world felt open and wonderful. I hadn’t planned to go on this walk. It was entirely impromptu. And I embraced it. This was yesterday morning.
A loving mental state can lead you to spontaneity in your physical state.
I’ll Have Soup, Please
In The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Carlton Abrams, the authors cite a study. Researchers Chen-Bo Zhong and Shira Gabriel found that when feeling lonely, you literally feel cold. You physically pine for warm items – like soup – so as to warm your heart.
A lonely mental state can lead you to craving warmth in your physical state.
The book goes on to explain that you can counter loneliness without reaching for a bisque. The authors note that loneliness arises from a feeling of separateness, of feeling detached from the world around you. However, when you realize you are one part of humanity, that you are connected to everyone through that shared bond, it allows you to feel less separated.
In other words, fill your heart with love and you’ll never be lonely.
The Clouds in My Head
It’s a Monday morning after a long weekend. I put my running shoes on and walk out the door. I’m planning to run, but something feels off. My head feels cloudy. I’m tired. And because of that, my body feels off too. Everything feels heavier, slower. I feel sloth-like. This is not the way I wanted to start my week.
A sleepy mental state can lead to lethargy in your physical state.
One of my goals is to get eight hours of sleep at least four nights a week. This ensures I am well-rested most of the time. Additionally, I take a quick nap most days. It clears my head and gives my body some much-needed energy.
Moving Forward in a Better State
Your reality depends entirely upon perspective. Feel anxious and the world is dark and threatening. Feel loving and the world is open and kind. Change your perspective and your reality changes. It’s not always easy, but it is possible.
I noted above some positive ways to overcome a negative mental state. There are two other methods that I have found useful: practicing gratitude and visualization. Five days a week, I spend five minutes thinking of things I’m grateful for. This is an easy way to improve your mood. Additionally, five days a week and three times each day, I do a visualization practice. This is a whole other article in itself, but in short, it keeps me moving in a positive direction.*
Your mental state impacts your physical state. Be deliberate about the reality you inhabit and watch as it becomes all the more pleasant.
*Note: To learn more about visualization, I suggest the book, The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. Go into this book with an open mind. I was against these concepts for a long time. Now I see them as life-changers.