Happy Spring Peaceful Living Warriors! I hope that spring is bringing all of her glorious energy and color to your world! This month, we are going to be laser-focusing on MINDSET. Now of course, almost all of what I talk about through Peaceful Living Wellness is mindset-based. But, I don’t think I have ever used that particular word before.
I think this begs the question: What is mindset?
Mindset is the way you DECIDE to think about life! That’s right. It’s your DECISION. Your mindset can EMPOWER you or it can DEFEAT you!
I come across so many people who are unhappy, disenchanted, dissatisfied and many other “diss” and “un” words. But, they don’t seem to want to do anything about it. In fact, I had a woman tell me the other day that she thinks she’s pretty sure that she is just negative to her core! EEEEEKKK!!! This is what I am here to disavow you all of!
- You are NOT negative to your core!
- Life is not supposed to be overly stressful!
- Busy does NOT mean that you are a good person!
- Being relaxed does NOT mean that you are lazy!
- Taking good care of yourself through things that feel good does NOT mean that you are a selfish person!
- Oh, just ’cause I’m on a roll, skinny does not necessarily equal healthy! (But, that is for the May blogs 😉 )
This is what we are going to be focusing on all this month: CHANGING YOUR MINDSET so that you can lead a peaceful, joy-filled life!
To be bitter
To grow & strengthen
WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?
No matter who you are life will be challenging at least some of the time! I do not know one person in his or her forties who has not had at least one major challenge in life. And then there are people like me who have had a life full of major challenges. Here is my question for you:
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THOSE CHALLENGES?
As I see it, we have THREE CHOICES:
- We can become bitter and cynical.
- We can wallow in complaining.
- We can grow stronger and wiser and use the strength we gained and the lessons we learned to live more peaceful, joyous lives!
~ And let’s just say that there is a 3-A: We can use our strength and wisdom to lead and help others.
The Cynical and Bitter Path
The main question you need to ask yourself here is, “is my outlook on life more negative than positive?” If you are a person who is easily frustrated by other people, who feels hassled most of the time, and / or complains about the world around you much of the time, you are at risk of being cynical and even bitter. If you are a person who thinks you are just negative to your core, you are already there!
If you are going down this path, or you are already there, my question for you is:
Are you happy like this?
SERIOUSLY? If you tend towards living in the negative, are you happy on a daily basis?
If your answer is, “YES!” Well, by all means carry on. Just don’t take your negativity out on those who are around you. And be aware that you could be doing significant damage to your health. Negativity correlates with stress-based disease.
If you are not sure, here are some ways to assess the situation:
- Keep a note-pad handy and every time you have a negative thought jot it down. Or, just mark an X. At the end of the day take a look at your log. Are there a lot of negative thoughts?
- Ask your family, friends and neighbors. Tell them to be honest with you!
- Take a look at your social media participation. Are you posting complaints on your neighborhood Facebook or Next Door page? How are you interacting overall? Is it more negative or positive?
- Finally, and maybe most importantly, monitor your reactions to other people.
- Are you angry at other drivers most of the time?
- Do you feel like you need to tell people why they are wrong – either in person or on social media – more often than you give support and congratulations?
- Do you find fault with people and events more often than you find a reason to praise them?
If your answer is, “yes, I feel like that. But, no, I do not want to feel like that,”
then read on to the end of this blog!
The Complaint Path
The main question: “Do I spend a lot of time complaining about my life or people in my life?”
The follow up question: “Am I complaining about the same things/ people over and over again?”
And finally: “What am I doing besides complaining to change my circumstances?”
Again, make a log of your complaints and see how long it is. Or, ask your family and friends if they think your conversations are more complaint-oriented than upbeat or even neutral. Take a look at your social media interaction. Do you use social media to complain?
Complaining about the same thing over and over again, without doing anything about it, is a recipe for exhaustion. It’s like beating your head against a wall – repeatedly!
You may be thinking, “well Jenn, the things I complain about are things I cannot do anything about!”
But, I ask you, “is that really true?”
And even if it is, if you stop focusing on the things that make you unhappy (and thus, complain about) and focus on the positive, you WILL find that your overall outlook on life becomes happier and healthier 🙂
The Path of the Peaceful Living Warrior
I begin every one of my VLOGS on Facebook Live with that moniker because staying in a positive mindset does require strength, practice and commitment ~ just like a warrior. The human brain has what has come to be known in the scientific community a “Negativity-Bias:” That is, our brains are more likely to attach to negative thoughts and events than positive thoughts and events. Some researchers believe that we are even two-times as likely to imprint negativity as positivity.
BUT, that is not an EXCUSE for living in a state of negativity! It just means that as humans we need to work at focusing on positivity.
And the good news is that because our brains have neuro-plasticity we are able to overcome our negativity-bias and retrain our brains to focus and imprint on positive thoughts and events! And more good news: It gets easier as we get older!
Yes, that’s right my friends, the power of positive thinking is REAL! If you practice a positive mindset you can and will train your brain to be more attracted to positive thoughts than negative thoughts. That is very exciting news!
Instead of waxing on about all of the research in this area. I’m going to give you a few things to try on for size:
- Start with empathy. For example, if someone around you is in a bad mood, think to yourself, “I wonder they had something challenging happen in their life.” And then give them a kind word or just send them a positive thought.
- Try on super patience. I use the word “super” because I’m thinking particularly about when we are out driving. When people on the roads are acting up, see if you can take some deep breaths and say something like, “I will not let this ruin even a moment in my day.”
- Practice positive reactions. If someone says something directly to you (or says something on social media!) that you don’t like, rethink why you don’t like it and see if you can react in a positive way.
- Give away compliments. This is something I try to do with my children, my spouse, my friends and family and society in general. It is so nice to see someone’s face light up when I say something like, “that is such a pretty dress” to a perfect stranger.
- Give yourself love. Our brains love it when we love on ourselves. I make my yoga students give themselves hugs and tell themselves that they love themselves. They often think it’s silly at first, but after some time they tell me that they look forward to it. Give yourself compliments every day. Write your affirmations down and tape them up around your home and office. The constant reminders will sink in and you will feel more confident, happy and healthy!
When Bad Things Happen
I’m not going to fill the page with platitudes and fluff and tell you to just think positive thoughts and everything will be okay in the face of the really challenging life events.
It is okay to feel negative feelings like frustration, anger and sorrow when life gets really tough. What I will say is that dwelling on the negative feelings for too long is not healthy. In fact, it can make the situation worse!
There is a tenet in Zen Buddhism that teaches about giving our negative feelings their due diligence and then letting them go. By allowing the mind to accept any emotion it allows us to be human. By letting the emotion go once we have accepted it we allow our minds to come back into a state of neutrality, peace or perhaps even happiness.
Remember, dwelling in the negative releases stress hormones and trains the brain to focus on the negative. This is a vicious cycle of ill health.
Accepting negative feelings, letting them pass, and replacing them with positive, hopeful feelings, releases relaxation hormones. This is a cycle of good health.
One of the kindest gifts you can give to yourself and others is to take the lessons you have learned from facing life’s challenges, and moving through them with positivity and grace, and pass them on to others!
By teaching others how to be positive, hopeful, happy and peaceful you allow them to reap all of the health benefits of positive thinking. And bonus! You also flood your own brain with healthy hormones and give yourself the gift of a happier healthier life!
So drop the negativity!
Embrace positive thinking!
And pass it on! 🙂
As always, your comments and shares are appreciated!
Love & Light!