Finding the good
There is no way I could have got through my 12-month challenge (especially those first few months) without an almost annoyingly positive mindset.
I started at first with flipping negative thoughts that sprang to mind but then went a level deeper. I would give myself 10 day challenges of speaking, thinking and hearing absolutely no negativity. No news, No bitching with friends on the phone, no complaining about the weather or how slow the service was at a café. No negativity at all.
I had friends even tell me this was unhealthy and unrealistic. I didn’t care. I swear this was one of the main game changers.
Imagine that you are sitting there sulking about how you are bored, how you want to drink or how you are missing out. Or imagine you are sitting there with a smile on your dial, content and happy. When a negative thought rises you gently brush it off or flip it for a positive.
How to flip to a positive
I really need a drink = I don’t have to drink anymore.
I am bored = It’s so nice to have this time to improve myself. What can I do next?
I am not getting invited to places = It’s so good to have this time to myself.
The service here is too slow = I am just going to relax and calmly wait and take this time to do some deep breathing.
The traffic is shit = Great time for pelvic floor exercise or listen to a podcast.
I remember being in Singapore, stuck in the longest line waiting for a taxi after a very lame lighting show. It was also really hot and muggy. The kids, bored, hungry and hot, started to get worked up and I felt frustration rise in me. But I just refused to let it get to me. In the very overrated light show I kept pointing out to the kids, how lucky we are to be here in Singapore. I pointed out other things that were beautiful, like the big trees and the gorgeous park. With hundreds of people pushing and shoving trying to get taxis, I kept up with a similar dialogue in my mind and with the kids. I just refused to get frustrated and kept so calm.
I could make this a horrible and tense experience or I could just be content and happy in the moment and go with flow. I couldn’t change the circumstances anyway.
The definition of stress is wanting something to be the way it isn't - Ekhart Tole
What’s the message?
My message is to find the good. Find the good in everything and everyone that you can. The alternative is to walk around pissed off and feeling sorry for yourself, feeling angry at the world. Nothing will send you back to a downward spiral of binge drinking and self-loathing quicker than a negative mindset.
What is your mission in life? Is it to grow and expand, or stay the same?
In order to grow, you must give up the struggle to remain the same - Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul
A repetitive thought forms a neural pathway which over time becomes a superhighway to negativity if that’s your train of thought. The same goes for positive thoughts. Whatever is your repetitive thought that is where you mind will be wired to go.
As a means for survival our default position is to look for the negative. We are wired to get in to flight or flight mode to keep us safe from predators or impending dangers. So don’t think if you tend to think negatively that you are bad. It is innate in us. But you absolutely can change it if you want to.
I read once somewhere that we talk about negative things we get a little rush of dopamine, so it makes you feel good momentarily.
What will serve you is thoughts that lift your spirit. Thoughts that give you a feeling of well-being will get you in to a state of optimism.
Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions - Dalai Lama
5 Tips for staying positive
Keeping a gratitude journal. Write down all of the positive and what is good in your life. Write down anything that brings you joy.
Use inspirational books, podcasts, and videos. Fill yourself with inspirational material that will keep you motivated. It will also increase your overall positivity.
Spending time with positive and supportive people. This includes family members and friends. Get rid of all the toxic people in your life. They’ll only hinder your progress.
Reducing exposure to negative news. Watch a comedy or just find something else to do, but the news is a no-no and will only increase anxiety and negativity.
Above all else, take responsibility for your own happiness. Never sit around blaming. Catch yourself when you go to blame a situation or circumstance for your state of mind. You are the only one in control of your state.
Finally, whether you realise it or not, you are the one that chooses how you feel about any given situation. So be aware of your own mind and don’t forget you are the one in control of you.