What does getting stuff done at home have in common with canoeing?

HALT - Safety First!Last night my niece and nephew were over for a game of euchre, and in the lively chit chat the across the table they talked about their training as YMCA summer camp canoe trip leaders.  One of the safety mantras they had firmly imprinted is something called HALT. They told us that HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Basically, they were taught for safety reasons (Safety First!), if you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired do not get into your canoe. Stop, get yourself into a better frame of mind, and then proceed.

My niece, Alexandra, explained it to me a bit more, “We don’t just use it for whether or not to get into your canoe, we use it for any decision – “Do we run these rapids? Do we camp here?” and so much more that doesn’t apply directly to camping. As a leader (or just in life), if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you HALT, and then you reassess the situation, you don’t just blindly make decisions (life-threatening or otherwise) from a compromised position. If you are aware of how you feel, then you make safer and better decisions.”

What fabulous training! Everyone should have that rule – for everything! It reminds me of the children’s song Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.

I teach something similar in my book HouseHeal: Transform Your Life through the Power of Home. Though my teaching is largely principle-based, I have one central very important rule for creating a beautiful, feel-good home, and that rule is take action only from a place of feeling good. Maybe HALT could also stand for Hold Always Loving Thoughts. If you take a look around where you live and notice yourself feeling sad, angry, overwhelmed, discouraged, scared or anything less than hopeful, do nothing. Taking action from that kind of low vibration emotion will only make things worse. Get yourself into a better frame of mind, and then get to work, clean your kitchen or organize your closet, from a place of hope and inspiration.

Whether canoeing or at home – stop and notice how you feel. Everything good begins with awareness. If you don’t have a practice of noticing how you feel, you can’t put into effect the most basic rule for your physical and emotional safety: HALT.  Go gently and easily with yourself, and you will be happier and safer, and go further.


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