When I first read about the exercise, I knew I wanted to try it. All you do is to pick a word that embodies something you want more of in your life, like courage or confidence, joy or lightness. Then, for three days, you keep that word in your mind. (The exercise recommends writing it on your hand or attaching it to your clothing.)
I chose “lightness.” If there’s something I want more of, it’s to be more relaxed, to treat the little things as little things, and to surf uncertainty with a smile instead of intense determination.
I was going to an amusement park with three of my children, so that seemed liked a good time to practice. I wanted it to be fun, and yet I could sense I was tense just getting out the door. So, throughout each day, I just kept asking myself, “What would it mean to be light in this situation?”
When there was traffic that made a three-hour drive much longer, I thought of lightness, looked at the beautiful surroundings, and talked with the kids.
When my plans to be at a certain place at a certain time fell through, I reminded myself that such things happen all the time. Instead of getting upset, I just made new plans.
When my youngest was complaining about something that seemed trivial to me but important to him, we came up with ways to make things better.
On the second day, I put my phone in a locker, and didn't think about checking it.
We rode all the rides, with the kids taking turns choosing the next one. When it was a water ride and I didn’t particularly want to get wet, or a roller coaster I wasn’t fond of, I thought What would it mean to be light in this situation? Then I smiled and got on the ride. It felt liberating.
On the last night, we stayed until the park closed. My pedometer said we walked for 12 miles, which must have been forty thousand steps for my little boy. We got ice cream afterwards to celebrate.
Of course, there were times when I forgot about lightness, and my habits took over. When it happened, I shook my head and committed to doing better next time.
I first discovered the exercise in a lovely, helpful book titled Pathways to Possibility and learned how apt the title was. Just keeping a word in my mind changed my perspective. Lightness was a choice, and it was a choice I made much more often throughout the three days.
I hope I remember that word. I hope you try the exercise too.