You know that game you play when you’re eating (or reading) fortune cookies where you’re supposed to add “IN BED,” to the end of the fortune? For example, “You are someone whose optimism is contagious…IN BED” or “Something exceptional is waiting for you…IN BED.” Well, I’d like to suggest using a similar phrase during times that we are feeling depressed, anxious, or generally negative about ourselves and others.
For many of us who struggle with anxiety or depression or are just in a bit of a funk, our tendency is say negative statements about ourselves. The problem is we can get stuck in the permanence of those thoughts and statements. Adding on the phrase, “RIGHT NOW,” to the end of any of those thoughts or statements significantly changes our perception of the thought. Think how different these statements are from one another: “I feel like my life is out of control” versus “I feel like my life is out of control RIGHT NOW.” The former implies both the present and the future, while the latter refers only to the present moment.
This catchphrase could revolutionize the way we parent, teach, and generally treat each other. Imagine teaching your child that saying “I hate you” to someone is very different than saying, “I hate you RIGHT NOW.” We would be giving our children permission to feel what they’re feeling, express it, but also to acknowledge and tune into the fact that feelings are not permanent. This realization can help them when they face challenging times in their lives. For some people struggling with depression, having hope that things will change can literally be a life or death matter.
The use of “RIGHT NOW” is also important at our most joyous and happy times. Dr. Brené Brown describes joy as the most vulnerable feeling in the world. We need to remember that sitting in our joy and owning it does not jinx it in any way. Instead of practicing foreboding joy (the sudden fear that something awful is going to happen immediately after feeling happy), why not try saying, “RIGHT NOW.” When sitting with your partner watching the sunset, try saying, “I’m so incredibly happy RIGHT NOW.” There’s no need to fear that happiness will be taken away from you, because you are simply tuning into what is happening to you in that moment. By not attaching ourselves to the future, we can more fully experience these feelings of joy and bliss. As more and more research focuses on the benefits of mindfulness to help improve anxiety, depression, productivity, and overall contentment, this phrase can serve as just another tool to aid in that practice.
As we face the election next month, I am keenly aware of how scared I feel for our country and what it might become. I find myself saying things like, “The world doesn’t feel safe” and “I can’t believe this is happening.” By simply adding the phrase, “RIGHT NOW,” onto the ends of the sentences, I am able to shift out of my helplessness and hopelessness into a space of feeling more powerful. And I like feeling powerful…IN BED.