There is a biology professor that told a story about sitting in a swamp waiting to take a picture of an animal (the animal he was waiting on, I have forgotten). He continued to say that he sat there for so long and sat so still in order to get the picture that he became completely covered in mosquitoes. As he told this story he showed a picture of himself and he was, as described completely covered in mosquitoes. The crowd he was speaking to cringed as was his intention and then he said six words that have remained with me since that day.
“That’s how you know you’re alive”.
He continued on with his story but I was stuck on this sentence. It happened to be winter and when I left this lecture and went out into the cold wind of the evening I started to move into my typical cold night walk. Head down, scarf up, hat down and if you could have seen my face I would have had a frown on my face as well. Then that sentence occurred to me. “That’s how you know you’re alive”, and something changed. What if I embraced this thought. In order to know I am alive, I must feel all. This would mean I need to feel cold as well as warmth. So I took a deep breath and lifted my head up and told myself how wonderful it is to be alive and feel the cold. (I know cheesy) My whole body changed, my shoulders weren’t as tight, my steps felt lighter and I didn’t have a frown anymore.
At first I didn’t believe this completely but kept telling myself this is how you know you are alive when I was in different situations. As I noticed I no longer complained about the cold, I started to use this phrase in other situations. At the gym, I would be in pain and not want to carry on, I would say this is how I feel alive. When something came into my life that scared me, I would say this fear is reminding me that I am alive.
This is a way of training our brain.
Now I won’t say I have quite mastered the ability to sit in a swamp and get covered by mosquitoes but I have stopped complaining and even enjoy my morning winter walks.
I will take that as a win.