Living the Glass Half Full –– Bring Positive Energy Into Your Life
A positive attitude isn’t a naive rose-colored glasses perspective. In today’s day and age, it’s a bold choice. One that involves work. And constant practice. At any given moment we’re surrounded by darkness and also light. It’s up to us to decide how to filter the energy we receive. Negativity isn’t always obvious. It can be subtle and sometimes barely detectable. Yet it’s strangely powerful, like a suffocating haze that sucks the air from our lungs; it colors our thoughts and feelings. And if we’re not aware, it can drag us down and deplete our life force. Meanwhile, at the same time positive influences also swirl around us, offering a joyful alternative to suffering.
Of course, happiness feels good. But dig deeper and discover that same joyful energy affects us in a myriad of ways, from mind/body health to work and romantic relationships. Even as early as childhood our emotional outlook begins shaping our behavior; a Stanford study found that children with positive attitudes were more engaged, had stronger memories and were higher achievers. There’s wisdom in that old cliché, “stop and smell the roses.” When we take time to enjoy the beauty in life, even in a small way, that gesture changes us.
Here are some ways to bring more positive vibes into your life.
Call Upon Yogic Wisdom
“The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” is a book of ancient yogic wisdom writings compiled by the sage Patanjali, which has since been interpreted by many. Sutra 2-33, “Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksha Bhavana,” is about shifting the mind from negative to positive by actively replacing dark thoughts with positive ones. For instance, when meditating, if we get caught up in a gloomy spiral, we can decide to release those thoughts and replace them with positive ones. It could be a positive memory, word, mantra or image. This concept can be applied to chatting with friends, gossiping, self-doubt… any situation where we sense being drawn into the pessimistic side. If the notion seems overly simplistic, think again. Like most of Yoga, it’s rarely about the surface. The idea is to go deeper… and deeper still.
Mindless or Mindful?
With awareness, we have the ability to shine a light on our unhealthy patterns and thought processes. Inevitably, as we move through the day we’ll encounter sensationalized news stories, critical remarks from strangers, and even friends who drain us. If we view each moment separately and with clarity, then we can decide whether or not to engage. In the words of, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, “Whatever we put our attention on will grow stronger in our life. So… limit watching the news to respected sources. Avoid friends who incite anger. And don’t let a day pass without feeding your mind positive information. Purposely, seek out uplifting people to spend time with, read heartening news and appreciate those who dedicate themselves to inspiring work.
Celebrate the Little Things
Putting positive expectations out into the world helps those desires manifest. It’s equally important to affirm life’s little wins. Notice the times when things go well, no matter how small. And be mindful not to toss off your own success in the name of modesty. Society teaches us it’s selfish to bask in our own triumphs and warns we’ll get an inflated ego. Sadly, instead of keeping egos in check, that mindset cheats us out of feeling good and growing a positive outlook. So… slow down long enough to become truly uplifted. Enjoy what you’ve achieved. Absorb the light and let yourself glow a little bit.
Expecting life without difficulty means to resist the inevitability of change. Naturally, circumstances will ebb and flow. When we get emotionally stuck because something doesn’t go our way, our mind creates similar neuro-associations that spiral off and result in increased negative feelings. Instead of falling victim to events, we can take control, and decide where and how to channel our focus. If we become curious and look for ways to be proactive and learn.
Take Joyful Breaks
How do you define bliss? Show yourself some self-loving care and weave pleasure into your routine. Don’t work eight or more hours without taking a break. And at least once a week, schedule a time to do something you enjoy. Buy yourself flowers. Go to the farmers market. Meet a friend for lunch. Then take it a step further, as you become increasingly aware of what brings you pleasure, seek out more opportunities to experience it. Visit a gallery and get lost in art. Listen to uplifting playlists. Take a leisurely walk in nature. Enroll in a creative class. Take responsibility for your own happiness by actively look for ways to grow joy.
Be hopeful and envision positive outcomes. But at the same time, remain realistic and ever flexible, free enough to let go. By becoming attached we attempt to force, instead of influence. Sure, it’s natural to crave the comfort of the familiar. Still, there’s no avoiding life’s twisty turns. And that’s part of its mystery. While it can seem preferably to remain safe, excitement and surprise also live in the unknown. So embrace the fluidity of change and come from a place of inner knowing and resilience.
Keep a journal dedicated to noticing all you appreciate. Gratitude is a powerful thing with a laundry list of wellness benefits. Nothing lightens up dark energy faster than recognizing the good. And seeing it in print takes it a step further. Make the journal lightweight enough that you won’t mind carrying it around. And resist the desire to put this on a device. Keep it tactile and old school with a pen and paper. Then whenever negative thoughts pass through your mind, don’t become engaged. Become aware of what you’re grateful for. Experience feeling lucky, in your body and mind. Write the thoughts down whenever they strike. Alternatively, on days when you’re feeling less positive, read the book. And let it serve as a loving reminder to stay on the positive path.