We all have a natural, biological rhythm. A heart that beats involuntarily, pumping our blood throughout our body, day in and day out. Sometimes that natural pattern gets thrown off, and our heart produces an irregular and rapid heart rate. This is known as fibrillation. When a first responder comes, he begins with chest compressions, to artificially arouse the heart to restart its natural rhythm.
Sometimes this works, but sometimes it’s simply not enough—the heart is undergoing too much stress and more drastic measures are necessary. When that’s the case, the patient needs a defibrillator, whose job is to jolt the heart with around a thousand volts of electricity. Although this seems counterintuitive, stopping the heart by shocking it is how we get it to start again.
We have another rhythm by which we live our lives. Patterns in our daily routine, whether physical (like hitting the alarm twice every morning before waking up, or drinking that first cup of coffee before even checking our email at work) or emotional (every time you see your mother, you feel vulnerable and small; whenever you walk into the office, you feel inferior to your peers’ success). These are triggers—no matter your mood or circumstances, due to your rhythm, you’ll naturally veer toward these reactions.
Similar to the heart, when a person’s natural rhythm is off, causing him to feel unbalanced or unhappy, sometimes turning him toward bad habits, he needs a shock. Something to stop him in his tracks and get him back on the path.
Often, going through loss or trauma causes people to reflect upon their lives and where they’re heading. Perhaps before those traumatic events arise, they should consider what’s throwing off their healthy patterns. Then they’ll be better equipped to deal with the stresses coming their way.
Out of the Box
Creating a shock requires a lot of energy. One hundred volts is simply not enough. If you want to impact the heart, you need a real shock. When setting the stage for a personal reset to a healthy rhythm, you must do something “out of the box”—meaning out of your box. So if you’re a conservative person, your “out of the box” will look different than that if someone who’s naturally outgoing.
Here are some examples of an out-of-the-box shock:
- If it’s hot outside, walk down the street wearing all you winter clothing. Boots, winter coat, gloves, scarf—and of course an umbrella!
- Walk over to complete strangers on the street with a bottle of water and cups, and offer them a drink.
- Call someone you’ve been avoiding and reconnect, or contact someone you don’t particularly care for and tell them what a beautiful human being they are.
It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s a stretch for you and breaks your pattern of negativity. And remember: You’re not an island; you must interact with others. It’s counterproductive to do anything that’ll negatively affect yourself or other people.
When I was fourteen, I lived in Bogotá, Colombia, feeling isolated. I was thousands of miles away from my friends and didn’t speak the language. I decided to create “Tnereffid Day” (“Different Day,” “different” spelled backwards), and change everything from my normal daily routine that I could. From putting on my clothes in an unusual manner to eating atypical foods to the way I walked down the street, I’d change things around.
While I look back at that experience and recall the pain and difficulties of a teen trying to find his place a strange city, this was the one defining moment of my year abroad with my family that I recall fondly as a “great day.” It helped me create a healthier perspective on the situation I’d been placed in.
Just like when performing CPR or using a defibrillator to start a person’s heart, a patient must follow up with his doctor to discover what the cause of fibrillation was, to ensure it never happens again. If you decide to make a Tnereffid Day, do some real soul-searching or speak to a professional to find out what brought on those negative feelings in the first place.
Have a great day!