I would like to follow up last week's article with a few more thoughts regarding going down the "right" path.
Last week a former patient of mine commented that some people are not exactly sure what they want and therefore they do not know how to tell if they are on the right path or what in fact "is" the right path.
This got me thinking about how common it has become to focus on what we don't want and how that can confuse the situation.
This applies to mental, physical and emotional situations.
Let me give you an example that is not from the health and wellness perspective.
Gas prices have soared over the last several months.
People are talking about it everyday at the wellness center.
A lot of what I hear are the concerns about how we are going to afford the lifestyles we have become accustomed to.
There is a general sense of uncertainty about what to do.
This is an example of knowing we want to do something, but are not exactly sure what.
How about this approach: Focus on what it is specifically you do want.
For example, "I would like to spend less money on gas this month."
This is a positive focus on what specifically you want. Now armed with this intention we can make wise decisions.
Instead of driving back and forth to the grocery store three or four times a week, go once a week.
When I was a kid, every Thursday was grocery day.
If we ran out of food on Wednesday, we needed to get creative with what we had to eat.
Fridays were awesome because all the good food was in the house.
This is a minor example, but the point is if we know what we want, we can make wise decisions without being stressed out about it.
The thought "I should be able to drive as much as I want," is not realistic at this time. Instead of worrying about what we can't do, find peace inside first then act on what we can do.
I imagine there are some out there who believe that getting upset leads to action and that's where change can happen.
In fact, I used to be one of those people.
I thought that if I were upset, which I called motivated enough, that I would get more accomplished.
I remember doing and doing and trying harder and harder. It seemed the more I did the more I accomplished and the more I was motivated.
In fact opening up the wellness center lead to me working seven days a week for over a year.
I would feel so far behind that I figured I wasn't doing enough, so I would add more to my list of things to do.
If I wasn't working out I added that, then I had to eat better, then make more money, then read more and it was always more, more, more.
Fortunately I have come to learn that these stressful choices are what the root of the problem was.
The more I did the more I had to do and I seemed to accomplish less and less.
A year ago I was learning from a great mentor of mine and she told me to find peace first.
I raised my hand to ask her a question and as I was asking I realized what she really meant. She meant to find peace first always.
No matter what your situation, the first step is to find peace first.
My grandfather used to tell me, "stop spinning your tires" and "slow down."
It used to drive me nuts, but now I see the wisdom in his advice.
I know there are people out there saying, "I don't have time," or "my responsibilities are too great," or "I don't know how to find peace."
I thought that, too, at different points in my life.
My experience has been quite the opposite.
Now when I feel the need to do something, I wait to make sure it feels good inside before I do it.
There are times when I will start down that "wrong" road and my body will let me know. I physically feel unwell, or my thoughts are stressful.
As far as too much responsibility, I have a lot on my plate, but when I am peaceful I feel nothing but peace inside which makes the tasks at hand easy to handle.
My only real responsibility is to take care of myself. If I am well then my surroundings are too.
Everyone knows the saying "the blind leading the blind," well when we are stressed we make stressful choices and end up even more stressed.
This impacts everyone we encounter from home to work to the grocery store.
Have you ever noticed how when you are upset a minor thing makes you even more upset?
For those who say they do not know how to find peace, let me remind you that when you are walking in nature and feel calm, you are at peace, so go into nature to find your peace.
My wife walks at least twice a day and notices the trees. She is from Denmark and they do not have the nature we have.
Go outside today and look up at the beautiful trees around you and really notice them.
Look at the color of the leaves, look at the texture of the bark, and really notice.
Meditation is a way to learn to find peace.
A local doctor and I were talking a few weeks back about the benefits of meditation.
He practices meditation and when he does his days are more relaxed and his decisions are better.
So let me put it to you: Your responsibility is to be peaceful first.
If you are a parent, are you are a better parent when you are stressed or when you are relaxed and peaceful?
When are you a better friend? When are you a better employee or boss?
When are you a better customer?
When are you a better citizen?
When are you a better person?
Trying to do things because you are frustrated that you can't, is equivalent to banging your head against the wall to get rid of your headache.
All it really does it make your problem worse.
When we are stressed out we often make poor choices.
So as a starting point, identify what you do want.
If you are not sure, then wait until you are sure.
Of course it is OK to seek help, look for advice and commit to a plan of action, but do so when you have found your peace.
The starting point is simple, but hard to do. Start by stopping.
Make sure you are peaceful inside and trust that when you are not peaceful you need to wait until you are or find peace before you act.
I recommend starting immediately and start every chance you remember.
My point is that stress makes us focus on that we "don't" want instead of what we "do" want. This in turn leads us down the road of making decisions from a stressed mind instead of a peaceful mind.
From the physical point of view notice what we focus on:
"I don't want to hurt anymore."
"I don't want to be fat anymore."
"I don't want stress anymore."
If you find your life filled with stress, worry, fear or anger it's because you are making decisions based on what you don't want instead of what you do want.
When we find peace first then we make wise decisions.
This allows us the opportunity to look at our situation and go down the "right" road.
If we are not sure what it is we want, it is better to wait until we know what it is. In other words if you are not sure, wait until you are sure.
When it comes to application, in most situations we can clarify what it is we want first.
When we can't, it's better to remove ourselves from the situation long enough to find what it is we want.
Be specific and clear with your intentions and expectations and people are better able to help you.
Wellness means looking into the "problems" we have and recognizing they are only situations and need to be addressed.
Fear, frustration, and anger only make the situation worse. If you keep encountering a situation that causes stress, maybe it's time once and for all to resolve your issue.
If you need help learning to find your peace or to clarify what you want, I am happy to help in any way I can.
I would like to wish everyone a happy Fourth of July and to offer thanks to all who have helped me on my journey.
I am so thankful for the opportunities I have had and the gifts that have come from coming back to Fulton County.
To all of you who have helped by saying nice things about me and the wellness center I am truly grateful.
You are my proof that focusing on what you want works.
I wanted to be blessed and I most certainly am.
Thanks for reading my columns.
Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org.