By Tessa Stowe
I lost my husband Mike to brain cancer in Nov 2013. Fast-forward a few months and I was essentially living in bed. I was in a massive downward spiral. I didn’t want to live without my husband. Why get up? Â What for? I told my grief counselor, Anne, how I felt, and she asked me if I’d do one little thing for her. “As long as it’s little,” I replied.
“When you wake up in the morning, get up, put some clothes on and walk across the road.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“You can go back to bed if you like.”
So I did. That one small action of walking across the road started me on my journey of getting my life and happiness back. And I decided that while I’m at it, I might as well create an Awesome Life and accelerate it, too.
So I am going to share with you the top 7 tips I’ve picked up over the last four years for accelerating the living of an awesome life without my husband. Because when you know these tips, and apply them, I do believe creating an awesome life will happen as a consequence. Here goes:
Tip #1 Be Intentional
If you intentionally look for green cars, you’ll see a surprising number of green cars. Try it. And if you don’t intentionally look for green cars, it’s likely you won’t “see” any. We selectively see — that’s just the way the brain works. If you intentionally look for ways to accelerate living an awesome life, you’ll find them. That’s how you got to be reading this, right? I suggest from now on you join me in being intentional about accelerating your awesome life.
Tip #2 Forget Your Dreams and Goals
I’ve come to realize that focusing on the dream of an awesome life simply reminded me every day, how not awesome my life was. It reminded me of how truly unhappy I was. It reminded me of the HUGE gap between where I was now and where I wanted to be, and that made me feel worse. Definitely not helpful. So I decided to hold on to the dream, which is very important, but then “forget” it in the day-to-day routine, and that’s what I suggest you do too. Think of your dream like a destination you are heading towards and set it into your mental GPS, as you do with the real GPS in your car. Â Then keep taking the steps towards your goal, trusting the process, and that your mental GPS will get you there.
Tip #3 Forget Affirmations
Imagine if my grief counselor had said to me, “While you’re lying in bed, say to yourself over and over, ‘I am happy, I am happy, I am happy.'” This can be a common strategy advocated by people who believe in the power of “affirmations” or “faking it ’til you make it.” But there are limits to its effectiveness. First of all, even if I had tried it, it was so far from how I was feeling that by saying something that wasn’t true, I would simply trigger an argument with myself that I was anything but happy and that I was just being ridiculous by convincing myself otherwise. Â And moreover, by repeating this affirmation, I would be made even more aware of the gap between how I was feeling (not happy) and happy. And I’d end up unhappier! Affirmations work gradually over time, but they are not an acceleration technique.
Tip #4 Create Domino Moments.
That action of getting out of bed and walking across the road in the morning was tiny, and yet it was HUGE. Some mornings, I’d turn around and go back to bed. Some mornings I’d say to myself, “what the heck? It’s a beautiful morning,” and I’d keep walking. That tiny initial action was for me what I’ve come to call a ‘Domino Moment.’ Â It set off a chain reaction much larger than the action itself — like a falling sequence of dominos. That Domino Moment created a huge ripple effect in my life.
I’ve since discovered, as I’m being intentional (Tip #1), that there is a scientifically proven recipe for creating those tiny actions, those Domino Moments, so they automatically ripple out through your life to give you the results you want. The recipe is simple, it’s fast, it’s easy, it’s fun—and it works. No motivation or willpower required.
Tip #5 Create Mighty Domino Moments
Something else I’ve discovered in my play with Domino Moments, and with my research, is that not all Domino Moments are created equal, even though, effort-wise, they appear to be the same. So I’ve affectionately dubbed these as ‘Mighty Domino Moments.’ Â Mighty Domino Moments ripple out into more areas in your life than the one the action directly relates to. Mighty Domino Moments give you a big bang for your moment buck!
Exercise is an example of a Mighty Domino Moment. When you set off some Exercise Domino Moments, not only do you feel and look better, your relationships improve, you are less stressed, your productivity improves, your sleep improves…the list goes on and on. On my side, I’ve found Domino Moments around Happiness to be the mightiest of the Mighty Domino Moments with respect to accelerating living an awesome life. Happiness seems to improve every aspect of your life.
Tip #6 Â Â Emergency Emotional Response Kit
I can be going along, feeling happy in my awesome life, and then something comes out of left field and takes me down. For example, recently my brother was involved in a head-on collision. He’s fine now, but at the time it triggered all sorts of emotions in me and down I went—fast. And when I was down, I couldn’t even remember the things to do to get me back up. I racked my brain for the things I knew to do—my Domino Moments—but they were nowhere to be found. High stress does that to you.
As I came back up, I decided to put together an ‘Emergency Emotional Response Kit.’ The kit is simply a list of Domino Moments and Mighty Domino Moments that I can pick up and read when I am taken down. That way I don’t have to remember anything. I can then choose just one from the list, or maybe two or three, knowing that by doing them I’d get myself back up faster.
Tip #7 Hang Out With Other ALAAL’s
After my husband died, I was super-sensitive, and I noticed that:
- some people caused me to come to a screeching STOP in my acceleration.
- some people caused me to accelerate in the OPPOSITE direction.
- some people INCREASED my acceleration just by being around them.
I quickly learned to reduce my time with the first two, as it would often take me weeks to get back up after encountering them. I learned to choose my company wisely, and I recommend you do too. And if you are committed to Accelerate Living an Awesome Life (ALAAL), it would be a great idea to hang out with a community of ALAAL’s. It’s easier and more fun to accelerate your life if you hang out with others going in the same direction.
I had no idea, when my grief counselor challenged me to get out of bed, that I was taking a small step that would change the direction of my life and I’d be here today sharing these top seven tips. My job is not to convince you that you “should” follow these tips to accelerate living an awesome life. My job is to share them with you. I’ve been testing them out for myself, and they are working. I do believe that applying these tips will not only accelerate you toward living an awesome life, but that awesome life will accelerate towards you.
Tessa Stowe is a writer, speaker and trainer on ‘Kicking the Domino’ so you can positively accelerate your levels of happiness and stress … and accelerate living an awesome life. To obtain her Kick the Domino Blueprint, check out Â www.kickthedomino.com.