Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The power of positive thinking

Are you a positive person? Is the glass half full or half empty?

We are organic beings, heavily influenced by external references. We can start the day feeling strong and capable letter / one phone call / one unpleasant interaction with someone can change it all! It doesn’t take much to knock us down. And you know what? That is normal. That is human. It is the getting back up that is important.

We all need something to hold on to, something to inspire us, to motivate us. It is these things that help us get back up again, stand tall and feel good.
The tricky bit is finding something (or things) that inspire us, motivate us and that we can hold on to – something we can trust in, that is unwavering.

Recently I was completely blindsided. It is terrifying, devastating and lonely when your ‘rock’ is gone. So I scrabbled around for a while, trying to find my footing, holding on to what I could whilst the storm abated. I was shocked by how flimsy life could feel - in just one day.

Change is certain. Nothing ever stays the same - that can be a huge comfort at times. And so, now the rain has eased, the sky cleared and the sun began to peak from behind the clouds I can reflect on what I have to inspire me, motivate me and for me to hold on to.

How to remain positive

1. Be thankful 

And before you dismiss this as happy-clappy-claptrap please read on! At the end of a yoga class, a yoga teacher once asked us to focus on what we have to be grateful for. So, I sat still, eyes closed and really considered the things I am grateful for – first to mind was the health and well-being of my children.

In this crazy, volatile, world we live in - where media forces our eyes open to atrocities across the globe, it’s not hard to be thankful for small mercies. I have water, shelter, food, I am safe from violence, I love and am loved.

I still practise this mindful gratitude every day, and often ask my yoga students to do the same.

2. Check yourself 

Every now and again, throughout your day, consider your thoughts…Are you thinking negatively? Focus on what you have achieved and done well. Think rationally and put a positive spin on things.

3. Hang out with positive people 

Negativity is contagious, but so is positivity!

4. Be kind to yourself 

Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else. With practise, you can become less self-critical and more accepting of yourself.

Health benefits associated with positive thinking include:
·         Ability to cope better with stress
·         Lower rates of anxiety and depression
·         Greater resistance to the common cold
·         Better psychological and physical well-being
·         Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
·         Increased life span

As yet, science cannot tell us why positive thinkers enjoy these health benefits. We know that a positive outlook reduces the harmful effects of stress on your body, and we know how detrimental stress can be on both a psychological and physical level. It's also thought that positive thinkers tend to live healthier lifestyles. Could it be that when you are kind to yourself in thought, you become kind to yourself in deed?

Breaking bad habits
If you often find yourself thinking negatively, then you are already on the road to thinking positively! In being aware of your negativity you can begin to make a change.
Firstly, don't be too hard on yourself. Consider in which area of your life you are most negative (work, relationship, children, family) and then decide whether you need to make a change in that area. If not, then try to become more self-aware and check your thinking throughout the day.
Don’t expect to change your thinking pattern overnight. Over time, with practice, you will become more accepting of yourself and less critical of others too!

'When you wake up every day you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose be an optimist. It's all a matter of perspective.' (Harvey MacKay)


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