Your heart and mind are a garden. What you plant and cultivate into yourself through your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings is what you’ll produce through your life via your attitudes, actions and behaviors.
Simply put, plant love inside of you and grow love from you. Doing so makes all good things come into being and you live a fulfilled, whole life. This is a practiced art.
It is the essence of what I call Growth Farming. Using this principle is how to live a life of peace and escape the trappings of stress that lead to depression, worry and anxiety.
Stress isn’t a new thing, it has always existed
Our modern lifestyle that’s fast-paced, go-go-go may be a new version of stress than previous eras of humanity didn’t have. But that doesn’t mean that the stresses, frustrations, and anxieties of our everyday world are a completely new thing.
There were people hundreds of years ago who would starve if they didn’t receive enough rain. Or if they received too much. Travel back in time for a little bit to see a different kind of stress that water falling from the sky created. Farmers and sharecroppers who had little financial wealth and lived in North America experienced this. Same in South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Think about that. Rain. What we complain about if we haven’t seen it in months or if we get so much it causes us to sit in extra traffic on the freeway.
Rainfall is out of the control of anyone. Yet it’s an essential element could make or break a family’s food dynamic, and that of a whole community or village. Talk about stress!
We tend to stress out about things we can’t control. Which is why we try to control them. Examples of things we try to control are
- The actions or reactions of other people
- What someone else thinks about you
- How they’ll interpret something you said
We look for answers and peace in the validation of others. This creates a pit of increased stress and despair.
We stress out about money. Financial well-being, let alone “financial peace” is a main cause of much of the anxiety, stress and tension in our culture. It’s also one of the main causes of divorce in America.
As things get tense, we put more focus on the problem
We focus on searching desperately for a solution will take all the stress away. The insurmountable odds of the stress grows and grows until it reaches a breaking point.
Usually when that occurs, there’s something that happens that will take time to heal. Harsh words spoken in haste and carelessness. Anger becomes the primary communication. Leading to bitterness and resentment. Pain overflow.
What you focus on grows. It’s a basic human principle. Whatever you put in your mind and let occupy your thoughts, you’re going to see, feel and experience more of. When stress becomes your focus, you’ll experience more stress and more reasons to be stressed.
This is why stress is a practiced art. It’s not a new idea. It is a matter of focus. Which means that the solution to your stress and the way to have peace of mind is a matter of cultivating different seeds inside yourself.
The key thing to remember is “practiced” art
We get good at what we do. Repetition breeds success. If you’re repeatedly thinking about things that stress you out, expect the stress to stick to you and grow.
“But how do I not think about my stress? If you had the problems I had you would be constantly stressed out too!” you may be thinking.
I understand the stress. Rejection and loneliness were huge sources of stress for me a few years ago. So was money. In the span of one month from February to March 2017, I went from having what I believed was a great marriage and strong relationship to being completely alone.
When my wife left, so did my confidence, happiness, and half of the income we built our lifestyle around. She took her contribution to our income but left me with the bills.
I spent months in utter agony. Thankfully, I have great friends and built a solid support system (what I refer to as my Strong Circle in my book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole) that provided strength and encouragement for me to heal.
Still, it took me shifting my focus from everything I lost to release the stress that had a strangle-hold on my life. I had to consciously change my thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes about myself to have what I wanted. What I wanted was peace.
Do you know what your three core values are? Your core values are the foundations that hold everything you are together and that you inherently strive for in your relationships. My three core values are Peace, Heart, and Empowerment. This is how I live love out-loud. But in that dark time, all I could think about was the rejection I felt, and the loneliness that came with it.
Shift your focus when you’re in the darkness of stress & depression
Depression weighs on your mind like a fog. It occupies your thoughts in ways that seem like you’ll never get out of it. Depression happens when you stay stuck in thinking about your stresses, frustrations, and problems.
Some people feel like they’ve been depressed for most of their lives. Is that you? If so, look at your thought life. What is the predominant pattern of thoughts you have on a regular basis?
Are your thoughts centered around something that causes you emotional pain or sadness? Are you angry a lot? Do situations and people cause you to get upset much? These are indications of roots inside you that need to be dealt with.
Remember, your mind and your heart are a garden
If you have stress, frustration, and depression operating in you that means there are proverbial weeds inside you with deep roots. And just like in the dirt, you have to dig deep inside yourself to see where these roots are. Your self-awareness is key to uncovering and uprooting the real causes of your stress and depression.
This is deep emotional and mental work. Yet it’s essential to having the peace you seek. Inner peace is an essential piece of this transformation. The key to shifting your focus is to take your mind off of what you don’t like and put it on what you actually want.
Me in 2017 while working to overcome personal loss
In those dark periods of my life while struggling with depression from my failed marriage, I couldn’t imagine the dream life I had envisioned before. That consisted of being a husband, a successful career as a coach and speaker, and having a happy family life. In the midst of personal loss, that dream went into a coma.
My dream life had to do with my relationships outside of myself. To shift my focus, I had to turn inward and focus on my own heart and mind. I chose to cultivate love, empowerment and peace inside of me so that I could experience it more fully. We attract what we focus on. This can be a healing experience or a debilitating one, depending on the nature of what we’re putting our concentration on.
I chose to focus on love, peace, and solidarity. I wanted to be a solid person and rebuild my heart, rebuilt my life. I didn’t want to stay in a place of darkness, depression, and hopelessness. To change my state of being, I had to change how I talked about myself, how I thought about myself, and what I fostered in my mind and heart.
Start the practiced art of shifting your focus
One thing that helped me heal and shift out of depression was a daily journaling and meditation practice. Here’s what I did:
- Spend the first 10-15 minutes of your morning writing a short list of three things (do this before you get out of bed and start your day; what you do and think about in the first 15-20 minutes of your day determines your focus for the whole day)
- Write about three things you’re thankful for, two goals you have for the day, and a series of affirmations
- Make your affirmations about what you want to foster and grow with your life. Your affirmations are “I Am” and “I Have” statements. Use present tense. Start with 5-7 statements.
- Read everything out-loud or to yourself when you’re finished. Determine in your mind that you fully believe and feel what you’re reading, even if it seems strange or unusual. This is how you cultivate “the practice” we talked about earlier.
Remember when I said my core values are Peace, Heart, and Empowerment?
“It is my intention to attract peace and peaceful people into my life.”
I repeat this intention often. And that’s what I experience. My affirmation for this in my journal is simply “I am Peace.”
A few other affirmations I write include:
- I am Love
- I am Joy
- I have more opportunities to grow and serve people than ever before
- I am enjoying my life and my day
- I have the best relationships and friendships
- I have everything I need to live the life of my dreams
- I am Whole and Solid
If you take these affirmation statements and spend even 5 minutes reading and reciting them today, you’ll find your attitude change. Your feelings will change too. You’ll shift away from unhealthy and unfruitful thoughts on what stresses you out into a stream of well-being that produces life, happiness and peace.
Remember, cultivating peace in your heart/mind garden a practice
Which means repetition is key. The gym you go to for exercising your body is necessary for you to have a healthy vessel to operate out of.
This inner-garden routine is healthy exercise for the other three parts of you (your mind, heart, and spirit). When you focus on love, you connect to God in a way that brings real healing and truth.
These are the essential tools for living a transformed, whole, and prosperous life. Change your focus and cultivate peace in yourself to be free from stress and live life on your terms.
Are you thinking differently about what you put your attention on? Good. Let me know how your inner peace comes into being using these tools. Comment or message me to let me know how you’re doing, and to ask any questions. Looking forward to hearing from you!
*Originally published at dgrantsmith.com
D Grant Smith is known as the Growth Farmer, which means he has an old-fashioned approach to living a whole & healthy life. His new book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole is about the journey into self-love and self-care after heartbreak and personal loss. He’s an empowerment superhero who would love to give you encouragement so feel free to reach out!
Image courtesy of GREG KANTRA.