We all have moments where we experience a state of mind where things are very out of the normal in a positive way. I call them Great Vibe Moments (GVM) and I’d like to share my thoughts on why they are so brilliant for us, but also how we can cultivate our ability to find such moments.
They happen both external to us (macro) and also internally (micro).
In my experience, the macro occasions occur when I am with people who are all on the same wavelength and working with purpose, or have not seen each other for a while but enjoy each other’s company. The most recent example of a GVM was my daughter returning to school after the summer holiday.
We are relative newcomers to this tightly knit school community having only returned to the UK nine mths ago. And, after spending six weeks together as a family, my daughter was apprehensive about going back to school and not getting to spend as much time with mum and dad. (Mum and dad were feeling the same way too.)
We needn't have worried, however, because the moment we arrived at school all of the kids immediately started hugging and running about like lunatics. The multitude of joyful parental visages was notable too. (No doubt partly due to the relief that comes with the end of the work/holiday juggling act.)
That morning, the school was buzzing with happy sounds and an amazingly positive energy and that I resolved to allow the GVM to infuse the rest of my day. Even now, as I reflect on that moment, I feel good.
The micro-GVMs are, for me, occur less spontaneously. They take the form of either mini-moments where I’m super grateful for what’s happening or happened in life. Or, less frequently, the occasions when I get so lost in an activity that time seems to lose any meaning.
I often experience this when swimming - usually after about 20 lengths. It can seem like a chore churning out the first 20 laps, but then something changes. The water seems to lose its drag, I'm not fighting for air and I begin to slice through the water like a dolphin. In this state, I could swim forever, totally absorbed by the sensation of my body moving through the water.
For me, the power of these moments is the ability to set aside all of life’s other distractions and negative thoughts, allowing me to focus on the things that matter.
I can dream bigger, move faster and be bolder in my actions, work and relationships. I’m closer to the version of myself I want to be. My truth shines out and illuminates a better path to take.
Nothing negative has ever occurred to me in this state.
Now consider an alternative state. One most of us conjure up with effortless frequency.
Let's call them Shitty Vibe Moments (SVM). And these can also be induced or controlled in the macro or micro way.
A macro experience that might place you into an SVM would be when you are involved with a group of people that are gossiping about someone or something else. Or perhaps if you are part of a team has a toxic leader that cannot form trusting relationships and acts in such a way that creates tension or anxiety in others.
In the micro, SVMs arise internally in the form of our self-deprecating "trash talk”, the self-destructive inner voice that tries to convince us that we will look stupid, fail or lose something important if we step out of our normal pattern.
Maybe it’s the words we didn’t find to say to a person who needed to hear them. Or the date we didn’t go on because that person was “out of our league”. Or perhaps it’s the job you didn’t take because you weren’t smart enough?
This state is one of second-guessing, pain, torment and ultimately poorer outcomes. When you experience SVMs in abundance, life is not rich. You suffer.
Here’s some excellent news. While you don’t control the external things that happen in life, you can be 100% control your own emotional and behavioural responses to those events, things and people. The way you choose to react and manage your moments (determined mainly by your mental state) is what will determine your behaviour, outcomes and happiness.
And since life is just a collection of these moments in sequence, this means you have a surprisingly significant degree of control over your outcomes that you might believe.
So how do you increase your exposure to the energising positive “macros" and control the negative “micros” to improve your GVM to SVM ratio?
Here are the things that work for me time and time again:
1. Say "yes" to things or people that are likely to be highly positive state inducers - especially if they are scary. For me, such an example was speaking professionally for the first time. I was terrified. But I trusted that it was going to work out if I put the effort in. And because of my ability to push through the fear I’ve met some of my best friends and now operate in a better position to influence positive change in our global veterinary community.
2. Say "no" to things and people that are likely to be negative state inducers. Sadly some people and situations are just toxic SVM inducers. You should sniff them out and avoid them at all costs whether it’s a work proposal, an employee, a business partner or a life partner.
3. Get some gratitude in your life - when each of us was conceived we overcame the most insane odds we’ll ever face. So here's a fact, it’s nothing short of a miracle that both you and I are here today.
I also write a daily gratitude diary entry that helps to remind me how lucky I am. Today, for example, I was grateful that I got a full night’s sleep in a comfy, warm and dry bed. Many people did not enjoy such luxury.
4. Journal to organise and understand your thoughts. It’s a surprisingly grounding experience. This blog is effectively an extended and (marginally) more organised version of my journal.
5. Get inspired, by people, places, things and experiences.
6. Move - the exercise I take, the more GVMs I experience.
7. Stop - when I meditate I feel calm, can focus and appreciate more. I have more GVMs and can control SVMs more easily. Same goes for getting enough sleep.
State control is possibly the most critical skill you can develop to become a happy and effective leader/vet/nurse/manager/client-care-rockstar/husband/wife/partner/friend/parent/child/human.
Whatever you are trying to achieve, do it from a favourable energy position will get you there faster and happier.
But as with any skill, just reading a blog and hoping it’ll happen is not a good shout. Managing your mental state takes discipline and practice, so get out there and create the GVMs. Recognise the SVMs and, without judging yourself harshly, and learn to let them go.
Wishing many GVMs upon you. 😃