I think really odd thoughts when I'm on the treadmill.
You have to get pretty creative with your thoughts to keep you from quitting, on one end, and on the other, from going completely nutty insane.
(I can't believe I'm sharing this with you.) I use visualization a lot to get me through my treadmill-runs. One of those visualizations is running for a crowd of cheering people where I'm competing with someone else. Both of us are connected to these meters that measure our EFFORT. Somehow, these meters can tell exactly how much effort we are giving - this presently unmeasurable combination of physical and mental effort.
There is a huge, colorful display that shows exactly how much effort we are giving. When things get too easy, the crowd gets bored or gets loud and shouts for MORE! When too much, the crowd starts putting up signs to "be nice", "go easy", "breathe", etc. Then there's that magic place where I'm sweating up a storm, feeling strong but pushed, and the crowd is going wild. And of course I want to keep the crowd happy, so during these visualizations I'm always working for that perfect effort. (And it actually brings a smile to my face.)
You are welcome for that peek inside my lovely unique thought cloud.
If you are a runner and looking for a visualization, try that one. (I won't tell anyone.)
If you aren't a runner (or are one and don't need wild visualizations like that), this is still important.
What IF we all had an Effort-O-Meter? After all, we can each be doing the same thing on the outside, but giving completely different effort within.
A one-mile run is a one-mile run. It can be horribly painful for one person or easy-peasy for another.
A movie is a movie. All attendees see the same thing. It can be profoundly moving for one person and yawn-inducing boring for another.
A headache is a headache. I know for a fact that people experience even the same symptoms and types of headaches at completely different levels of discomfort.
And I'm beginning to think that perspective / effort / actual experience is far more important than the usual, external measures we use to judge performance or one another.
Can you imagine going to work, or a crowded mall, and being able to see a display of everyone's Effort-O-Meter? Those that were having a horrible, crappy day would be in the red. Perhaps we'd be quicker to forgive their lack of a smile if we knew just how much effort they were giving even to take the next step without giving in.
Those that were more at peace would be in the green. I have a feeling many of us would gravitate towards them, learning, in turn, how to move ourselves into the green. (And those in the green could move towards those in the red, offering just a bit of caring.)
Of course, we don't need the Effort-O-Meter to realize that every person we greet might be giving a different amount of effort just to make it through the day. We all might be just shopping or just working or just running or just talking, but the effort given to do those things can vary greatly. It can benefit us to remember that.
How might your day be different if you could see the effort others were giving...or if you were mindfully aware of your own inner efforts?
Let's see if we can all acknowledge that what we see isn't always what is going on. If you have one to give, offer a smile. If you don't have one to give, please accept mine.