If you’ve ever been told to “keep your head up” and “look on the bright side” you’ll know that advice like that can really suck. It’s so easy to say and so hard to do. We all want to get the most out of life but sometimes taking those steps can be harder than walking in heels with a hangover.
Negative thought patterns and the ‘spiral of doom’ that our minds like to freak us out with, well, sometimes they can get in the way of living a happier, fuller, more positive life.
I spoke to an internationally experienced meditation teacher, Karuna, who works with all kinds of people to help them achieve that elusive goal – happiness, www.hubfortheheart.com. She told me that everyone has a negative voice in their heads that can make them feel unworthy or overly negative about a situation.
She says, “You’re not the freak in the room! Every person has felt or feels unworthy: our personality is rooted in fear and vulnerability.”
While we can all still function as adults and get on with what we need to do, (more or less!) underneath we’re all hiding a sense of powerlessness and fear and that can often manifest as a negative approach to problems, people or situations.
So how do we turn that around? It’s not just a matter of turning on the happy switch (FYI it’s probably in the kitchen next to that bottle of gin), it’s a case of applying practical measures when challenging situations or thoughts arise.
As Karuna says, “The goal of healing and spiritual practices such as mindfulness, meditation, healing touch, etc, is to return us to a place of balance.”
These useful steps blend these practices into tangible measures for great results. So get ready to power up your positive charge.
1 . Deep breathing
Karuna says that concentrated breathing can help bring about positive feelings. Spend five minutes a day focusing on your breathing and tuning your mind into a more positive channel. “Focus on the navel area and breath in deeply with vitality! Think to yourself, I am worthy. I am loveable. I am capable, with every breath.”
2. Stick a label on it
Our minds are busy places and are always bringing up thoughts and scenarios and feelings. If you’re getting overwhelmed Karuna suggests to treat them as a “passing show” or simply acknowledge these feelings and thoughts as places the “mind tries to grasp.”
She says, “Observe feelings of sadness, loneliness, separateness or pain. Label them, “Oh, there’s fear again.” It will help create distance and perspective.
3. Speak happy think happy
Get onto YouTube and listen to (and say!) positive affirmations, as you get ready for the day.
4. Take action
Karuna says one of the best ways to feel positive is to act positive. She says, “Make that decision you’ve been pondering for so long.” Action is stimulating and is a positive thing. Inaction and over analysis can be debilitating.
5. Find the answers
We all have problems or questions in our lives. Some things we can change and others are trickier. Ultimately positive feelings can be enhanced by being more solution focused. Karuna says it’s important to “Ditch the blame,” and accept you have always choices or answers of your own.
6. Celebrate yourself
If you’re guilty of beating yourself up or generally feel insecure, Karuna says to “Focus on what you do well! There’s no need to be threatened by another person’s skills (what a drain of energy!). Instead, focus on what you do well and support your personal skills.” Write a list of your talents and add to it every week.
Meditation’s benefits have long been documented, so if you haven’t given it a try yet, you really should. Karuna says a good way to get started is to try guided meditations on loving awareness. Have a search online to find them.
8. Hobby Help
Particularly tough day? Karuna says to turn your attention to something you do well or enjoy, this could be cooking, knitting, gardening or swimming. Putting fear, worry or anxiety into a practical task is a sure way to diminish it.
9. Pal Power
Where would we be without our friends? To instantly feel more positive why not organise a get together with friends with who you feel comfortable with and at ease? They’ll uplift you and you’ll have even more great memories to look back on.
Read more of MBS’s Technique column over here.