how we start the day is important for so many reasons. but most importantly, it sets the tone, and can color how we see the entire day. this morning i started my day with an old episode of This American Life.
in the first act of this episode, the question "what did you have for breakfast this morning?" is asked several times. the story is of a young woman who had at one point been hospitalized with anorexia. throughout the piece, she explores both her own and her family's experience of her struggle. when she asks her former hospital roommate the breakfast question the first time, the answer is alarming:
Oh my god, you don't really want to know. Eight ounces of nonfat, plain Stonyfield yogurt, mixed with one whole 35-calorie, non-sodium rice cake, mixed with a five-ounce cup of Kashi cereal, mixed with a half an ounce, one of those little boxes, of raisins, mixed with a tablespoon of flaxseed powder... A cup of black coffee, and guilt.the level of detail that someone who is pre-occupied with food offers is familiar to me. familiar, and uncomfortable.
when she asks her former hospital roommate the breakfast question the second time, later in the story, the answer is equally upsetting.
I had anxiety laden with a very thin coating of agitation. And it was coupled with a cup of very lukewarm pseudo-comfort, in the form of an anti-depressant.the amount of attachment she has placed on food is heartbreaking, especially to someone who understands how crippling this can be at times. moreover, starting her morning like that sets up a difficult journey for the day ahead.
starting our day off right, without anxieties and self-depreciating thoughts, is something many people struggle with, whether or not it is related to food. i'm currently working through gabby's 40 days, and this week we are focusing on relationships. today's mantra was about kindness: offering kindness to all those in our day.
"everyone" includes ourselves as well: we need to first offer kindness to ourselves. we are all connected, and being kind to ourselves allows us to be kind to others. modeling kindness to ourselves also teaches others to be kind to us. throughout my day, i practiced kindness toward myself and others--much more consciously than i regularly do. toward myself, i tried to choose needs over habits. in interactions, i allowed myself more time and space with people. in my world, i offered kind words, thoughts, and actions back out.
now, let me be completely honest. some of that was achingly difficult. i didn't like choosing some recovery over a long run. but i did it. i panicked about sacrificing some productivity by staying longer in a meeting with a student who needed a little more time with me. but i did it. i didn't really feel up to smiling and discussing my weekend with a colleague. but i did it. i kept practicing kindness.
so how did it all turn out? some of the kindness went unnoticed. some of it may have been noticed, but i wasn't aware that it was. some of it was brushed off. and some of it was greatly appreciated.
i don't think that's what really matters though. i think it all goes back to the intention: intentions are so important. consciously stating what we want or expect can have radical impacts on our experiences.
so what am i having for breakfast tomorrow morning? more kindness. because we are all continuously creating our lives.
what are you having for breakfast?