True to form, on my way to work, my coffee spilled all over the front seat of my car. This was just a confirmation that the ravens had jinxed my day…
On a cool spring morning, the kind where the winter coat still works, I woke and quickly ran outside with my dogs. The sky was cloud-filled, and a slight mist hit my face. The view was screaming, get back to bed and pull the covers over your head! Even the dogs seemed bothered by the weather, or so I thought.
The dogs were agitated, barking and running in circles. And when I looked up, I saw the problem. Six ravens were staring down at me. Although they are majestic with coal-black eyes and regal posture, they scared the heck out of me. Every superstitious thought raced to the forefront of my brain. Ravens are an omen. Death surrounds them. They are foreshadowing “something evil this way comes.”
Suddenly, my quiet suburban backyard looked like the scene from Lion King where the ravens await their next meal. A chill shot up my spine, not from the cold, and I grabbed my small dogs and ran into the house.
That’s it; my day was ruined. I was sure they gave me the “stink eye,” and the rest of my day would be filled with sadness and disappointment.
True to form, on my way to work, my coffee spilled all over the front seat of my car. This was just a confirmation that the ravens had jinxed my day. So, with a sigh of recognition, I fortified myself against any further harm, and with both eyes wide open, I continued on my way.
I knew I would “have a day,” as my mom would say, but I was ready. Traffic jam? I got it. Lost the keys? That is what a spare is for.
But to my pleasant surprise, the exact opposite of what I predicted and expected happened.
Later that day, the cashier in a boutique gave me an additional 20% discount because it was spring. I went to the movies and used a forgotten gift card. I walked into a store to find the perfect bag, the kind you only dream about if you were the designer, and it was affordable.
Wait, where are the tragedies? How could good things be happening? I was happy. Had I overcome the curse of the ravens? I felt strong. I felt powerful. I had not let the prospect of a bad day determine the outcome. I celebrated my small victory!
The term “mind over matter” was coined over 150 years ago to stress that the mind’s intelligence can dominate over material desires in an ever-changing world.
Today, the phrase has more of a motivational tendency that means we can overcome any adversity with determination and willpower. Many people use it as a mantra to overcome life’s challenges like chronic pain, the death of a loved one, or even solving the unsolvable. I admit that my ravens and their curse were not on the same level, but maybe there is a lesson to be learned.
The mind is a powerful tool. Once we convince ourselves that something is accurate or sound, it isn’t easy to clear it. Think about when you hear your all-time favorite song on the radio; you sing along, knowing the rest of your day will be fine. For the rest of the day, when the brain is at rest, the words pop up, and you smile with a bit of groove in your step. The same is true of a bad mood. Some days, no matter how hard you try, you cannot get yourself out of the funk. It happens to the best of us.
When we dwell on an event, it becomes all-consuming. For example, you have a slight pain in your chest. It is probably that you tweaked a muscle. But as the day progresses, your minor pain grows, and by quitting time, you are convinced you are having a heart attack and need to head straight to the ER. The more you think about it, the bigger it gets.
I realize I gave the ravens too much power.
In my case, on an average day, things will not always go as well as planned. This is life. I could focus on the negative things and blame my creepy birds or look for the good in people and experiences.
I am a massive believer in self-talk. I am that girl who motivates herself in the car before work with a, “You got this.” I use phrases like “I am strong” or “I am loved” freely as a way to make each moment matter. I have long ago gotten over the embarrassment of talking to myself. The good news is that now people talk into their earbuds without getting a second look; I am seen as just another cell phone user. No one needs to know my secret.
Years ago, I tattooed the phrase “just be” on my wrist. When I was struggling to be all things to all people, it served as a reminder that I am only one person. When people ask me what it means, I say “anything you want it to.” For me, the phrase can be different every day. Just be… calm. … be happy. Just be…whoever or whatever you want to be.
I am not suggesting a tattoo (unless you want one) as a daily reminder, but…
Find your mantra, the words or words that will set you on an even keel.
As I pulled up the house around dusk, I sought out my bird laden tree. There sat my six ravens just waiting to mock me. But no, they had not ruined my day. As a matter of fact, I had a perfect day. So, I grabbed my dogs, and together in a chorus of barking and screaming, we said, “Go away, birds, you got nothing on me.”
There is not a predetermined path for each day, even if you think for a moment that outside forces can alter the trajectory. So, the next time you walk under a ladder or a black cat crosses your path, remember that you have the power to change any day into a good day; mind over matter.
You may also enjoy reading Flipping your Mindset: The Healing Power of Affirmations, Mindfulness and Gratitude by Daniel Wittler