Colors can make us blind!
Music can make us deaf!
Flavors can destroy our taste!
Possessions can close our options!
Racing can drive us mad
and its rewards obstruct our peace!
Thus, the wise
fill the inner gut
rather than the eyes,
always sacrificing the superficial
for the essential.
– Verse 12, Tao Te Ching
Choice. We are given multitudes of choices from the moment we wake up to the moment our heads hit the pillow at the end of the day. The choices we make shape our attitude, our waistline, our relationships with our family, friends, and even the strangers we pass along the street. Our choices shape who we are, each moment of every day. Some choices are larger than others, but none the less even the smallest of choices can lead to large consequences as they add up.
It all seems rather daunting, doesn’t it? The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be! We don’t need to create a cost/benefit analysis over every single choice that we make. A lot of the choices we make on a day-to-day basis are almost already made for us in the form of habits.
Think about it.
Do you choose whether or not you put clothes on before leaving the house? Do you choose to consume food and drink? Do you choose to blink, to breathe? Some choices we automatically do because we are either wired to do so, or because we have been conditioned. Some of those choices we simply cannot break – those physiological choices that are necessary for survival. The rest? Well, we have a little bit more freedom when it comes to the rest.
One of the very first choices you have when you wake up is how you will approach your day. Will your outlook be a glass half full or half empty? Just that simple thought affects your interactions for the rest of the day. We’ve all said it, or heard the phrase, “they must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.” Just imagine, if the “wrong side” of the bed was simply looking at the glass as half empty?
Sure, you can have a day that is full of curveballs, where nothing seems to be going in your favor. That doesn’t mean you need to let it ruin your outlook on life. Woke up late? You have the realization that you don’t need a full hour to get ready for work and can allow yourself an extra 15 or 20 minutes of sleep, or spend that extra time meditating or making a healthier breakfast. Big meeting didn’t go well? You have the epiphany on how to make your project even better than it was before.
By beginning your day with a positive outlook has a ripple effect of reducing your stress and anxiety for the rest of the day. Your head is clearer, and your focus is on point. You have a greater ability to make future choices not only faster, but also in a way that benefits you on more than one level. That is one of the points that this poem of the Tao Te Ching is trying to express. When we make choices on the essential level, we no longer need to worry as much about the choices on the superficial level as they are now capable of flowing to your highest good.
To help you reach your highest potential, here are 12 mantras, or simple phrases, that you can recite upon waking. These mantras will help start your day on a positive note. Pick one or two and work with them for at least a week. After a week is up, pick another one, or stick with the same one if you feel that it is working for you.
- I love and approve of myself.
- I make the right choices every time.
- I trust myself.
- I have as much brightness to offer the world as the next person.
- I breathe in calmness and breathe out nervousness.
- Wonderful things unfold before me.
- I am beautiful and smart and that’s how everyone sees me.
- I am doing work that I enjoy and find fulfilling.
- I let go of all the false stories I make up in my head.
- This day brings me nothing but joy.
- Everything works out for my highest good.
- I am deeply fulfilled with who I am.
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