It struck me recently, as I have been coaching competition-bound a cappella choruses on creating a positive "mental default", that the same principles could be applied to and benefit any person or group.
We generally spend our lives playing the "outer game" - letting our lives and our moods be governed and run by things outside of us - the "externals". External interferences can affect our internal "Joy Factor" and take us away from who we really are and what we are really on this earth to do and be.
How can you possibly not be affected by what is happening around you? Am I suggesting that we live in some sort of sheltered and unrealistic "positivity bubble"?
No - ignoring a problem does not make it go away. At best, it reduces it to an even more insidious place in our sub-conscious, leaving us with a vague sense of unease but "nothing we can put our finger on".
As the Zen Buddhists advise when confronted with "external interference",
"Turn your head to it, nod in its direction and then turn your head and ignore it".
The main point is that you need to first acknowledge something in order to truly be able to "ignore it" or "let it go".
I encourage you to give a collective big NOD to all of the stuff that is currently interfering with your joy and happiness quotient: the economy, money woes, illness, crime, politics, relationship issues, exhaustion, stress...
...and when your head stops 'nodding", try adopting some of the following strategies to add some positivity into your life in November.
7 Strategies for "POSITIVE-IZING YOUR NOVEMBER"
- Remove yourself from all negative conversations and/or situations as quickly as possible (when your co-worker starts to whine about the wrongs of the world, do not engage - change the subject, reframe, say something positive, walk away - whiners and complainers will usually shut up if they are not getting you to buy into their complaints).
- Notice when you are the one who initiates the negative conversation. Ask yourself daily "Where's my Focus? Is it on what I have and what I want, or on what I don't have and don't want?"
- Enlist the support of your family and co-workers - tell them that you are trying an experiment for the month of November to keep yourself mentally positive. (Hey, ya never know, it might be contagious!)
- Turn off the TV news - definitely do not listen to the news before bedtime - those grim messages you receive right before sleeping will stay with you and amplify through the night. Instead, spend the last few moments before sleep writing a list of what you are grateful for, and what of value happened that day (could be as simple as having a good conversation with a friend, or the sun coming out, or getting a smile from the cute Starbucks barista).
- Give yourself structured "obsessing time". Is something really bothering you? Give it a BIG NOD...on purpose. Plan stuctured time (30 minutes to start) into your day where you MUST obsess about this particular problem. Set the timer, and don't allow yourself to stop obsessing until the time is up. The hitch? Once the time is up, you cannot allow yourself to obsess about it until your structured "obsessing time" on the following day.
- Surround yourself with reminders of your fabulous-ness. Fill your home, your office, your car with positive messaging - photos of people you love, of things you love doing, with inspirational quotes.
- Put aside AT LEAST 15 minutes per day for mindful self-care - do something to SLOW YOUR THINKING MIND (the place where all of your fear or negative thoughts exist) What do you like to do that takes you out of your "thinking mind"? Consciously ADD in those activities at LEAST once a day. (eg/ playing an instrument, laughing, meditating, reciting a personal affirmation, gardening, going for a walk on the beach or in the park, doing some gratitude journaling, calling a friend who replenishes your energy, listening to music - you choose!)