Monday, June 27, 2011

Restoring a positive mental attitude

Due to the fact that I recently got out of a situation where I was often berated and belittled, I've decided to leave the past behind me and focus on practicing a very positive outlook in my everyday life rather than let negative feelings consume me. Those of you who know me on facebook and twitter have surely noticed my posts of positive thoughts and just a general PMA. I've since noticed positive changes in myself as well as my surroundings. Things don't bother me like they once did. I see the good in people and the world again. I've even become a very calm and tolerant driver (those who know me know that this is huge). I've restored a self-confidence that a recently-removed-from-my-life individual constantly tried to demolish. In fact, after some reading and a lot of reflection, I now know that it is the person that does the berating and belittling that is the one that is sadly insecure. Positive and confident people do not put down others; it just doesn't happen. It is for that very reason that I choose to not waste energy on grudges and ill feelings. In fact, quite the opposite. I actually feel bad for this individual and hope that they can find inner peace. I have nothing but love and positive memories of them.

Anyway, I've been receiving emails from positive life coaches, and this is one I received today that I wanted to share because I feel it is very poignant and very simple.

Things better, people worse

There is this puzzle in most Western (and some Eastern) societies
that is really confusing. See if you can figure it out - we'll use the
United States as an example.

40 years ago...
  • The average house was 1000 sq feet, now it's 2422 sq feet
  • A McDonald's cheeseburger cost 30 min of wages, now it costs 3 min
  • There was 1 car for every 2 households, now there are 2 for every 1 household
  • Life expectancy has since gone up by an average of 8 years
  • GDP has since tripled or gone up 8.9 trillion dollars
So we live in bigger homes, make more money, and have longer lives.
If that is the case, how can we explain that in the last 40 years:
  • The divorce rate has doubled
  • Teen suicide has tripled
  • Recorded violent crime has quadrupled
  • And Depression has increased 10x - that's right ten times.
If things are getting better, why are people getting worse? There isn't a
one line answer to this paradox, but I'm going to offer a two part theory:
(1) We have been focusing on the wrong things to make us happy; and
(2) When something is wrong (anxiety, panic, depression) we only practice
reducing the negative feelings - we ignore increasing the positive.

Guess what? Happiness doesn't come from just reducing negative feelings.
In other words, if everything "bad" in your life were wiped away, you would
not automatically be incredibly happy. To live a joyous, fulfilled, and
meaningful life, you need to practice positivity. Yes, happiness takes practice.

One simple practice you can start with is called savoring. If you rush around
all day long from the moment you get up to the moment you hit the pillow, you
are probably not taking time to savor. Slow down and savor the good stuff.
Savoring has been scientifically researched to increase your well-being. Try
the exercise below.

Exercise: According to researcher, Fred Bryant, there are 4 effective
ways to savor:

Basking: Receiving praise and congratulations
Thanksgiving: Experiencing and expressing gratitude
Marveling: Losing yourself in the wonder of the experience
Luxuriating: Engaging in the senses fully

My request of you is that you pick one of these 4 techniques and sit
down to savor right now. Sit down for 5 minutes (if you're busy,
even 2 minutes will do). Think about one pleasant thing that happened
today (smell, touch, sight, sound, experience) and close your eyes and
enjoy it. Reminisce about what you loved about it.

As humans we are great at doing and moving and pushing through to
the next goal; but we need to also focus on enjoying, savoring, and
just "being". Remember, happiness takes practice, so make it part of
your day.

Love & Light,

Amelie Chance
Certified Coach of Positive Psychology

1 comment:

Mike said...

Great Post Mark. You know from my constant posting Im a HUGE believer in this. Positive mental attitude is absolutely everything!