Moving from a one marshmallow kid to a two marshmallow adult means learning how to delay gratification …and it can be a real bitch let me tell you. That said, life seems to have a habit of throwing curve balls at our plans and expectations so it seems like an important skill to master. Some of us may have had the good fortune to learn this early on from parents or other role models during our formative years. For the rest of us, it means some real dedication and often sitting in some uncomfortable ass situations while the lessons get woven into our behavior. And just when we think we’ve got it, WATCH OUT! It often seems like the moment we have the hubris to think “I’ve got this” is also the precise moment that the universe counters: “Oooooh really, let’s see how much you’ve got this!” BAM!
It’s so easy to get frustrated over why things are the way they are, where we are in our lives and the tumultuous state of the world around us. Progress can feel slow and the path forward may appear to be full of obstacles. But the incentive in learning how to navigate the discrepancy between our ideals and our realities is that doing so has a profound impact over our well-being in the present moment, as well as the perceived outlook on our life and on the world on general. We stop focusing on what isn’t working and instead get back to chipping away at our aspirations. Before long we can see the progress that is being made and once again become hopeful. Yes, sometimes this might take a good long while, but as John Lennon once said “Everything will be okay in the end. And of its not okay it’s not the end.”
My last few days just really didn’t go according to plan. Without getting into details, I’ll just say that it didn’t go smoothly and challenged my recent psychological progress. More than once I thought about partaking in some good old binge drinking, smoking, eating, quick-fix sex and even a little mental and physical self abuse. Instead I doubled down on my personal practice and ate healthy, exercised, journaled and reached out to a few close friends. The success of my better decisions was really felt when I said to my buddy: “I’ll laugh about all this craziness one day.” To which we both laughed. “Well I guess today is that day!” He exclaimed.
It’s one thing to talk about all this in theory and it’s another to put it into practice. One thing that really helped over the last few chaotic days was something called the 7/11 breathing technique. No, it’s not hurried breaths in between gulping down slurpies and taquitos. 7/11 breathing is a great technique to whip out when we’re feeling anxious, stressed, angry or otherwise out of sorts. Inhale for approximately 7 seconds and then exhale for 11 seconds. Doing this for a minute or two immediately begins resetting our nervous systems from a parasympathetic state back to a more restful sympathetic state. Doing so leaves us feeling more calm and in control of ourselves. So next time you feel like [insert your least impressive child-like temper tantrum behavior here] give it a try and see if it helps. After all if we can learn to be mindful amid the chaos of our emotions then we might just get the satisfaction of getting that second marshmallow 🙂