Some of the greatest characters in British fiction and entertainment have amused us with their downbeat attitude to life. Where would Winnie the Pooh be without that miserable donkey Eeyore to cast a gloomy perspective on things? How could anyone forget sitcom “One Foot in the Grave’s” catchphrase, “I don’t believe it!” from curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew whenever something goes wrong? Would Christmas be the same without the inimitable Ebeneezer Scrooge whose name we gladly label scroungers, penny pinchers and/or haters of the festive season with? In short we love miserable characters in our books, comedies and children’s stories.
In real life however, misery is anything but amusing. When things are at rock bottom, it’s often our default setting. Not because this is naturally how we are meant to be though. We’ve become conditioned to moan and complain about our lot in life.
Social media only serves to offer us a platform for this. Haven’t you heard what he did/she said? Isn’t the government an unmitigated bunch of expletives? I have had the mother and father of all terrible days, etc, etc. We revel in gossip, in scandal, in disgracing others and in how dreadful our lives are.
A few years ago, everyone was talking about “The Secret” – a feel good book by Rhonda Byrne. Many who have heard about bits of the book or the film have decided it was all about positive thinking. Some have tried this. Then they have given up because life just continues to give them the fluffy lollipop and not the perfectly calorie free chocolate bar.
Okay – well here’s the thing: positive thinking is not enough. That’s right – being happy and staying in the flow of life is not just about positive thinking. Every one of us has been conditioned with a thousand different messages at least from when we were very young. Messages like: ‘you’re stupid’; ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘why can’t you be like other people?’ The messages were both erroneous and given to us by people who didn’t believe in themselves. Give children this kind of feedback either through words or actions and a parent/carer or teacher sets in motion a deeply damaging hypnosis which lasts a lifetime.
So thinking alone isn’t quite enough to get rid of our old subliminal programming. This is why we see people doing really well – getting their dream job, finding a great partner or winning a fortune and then hitting rock bottom again after a few months. They just don’t believe they deserve to be happy. And no matter how much you “think” positively, if you have a limiting belief, it will keep holding you back.
It takes a lot of time to change your life and conquer inner demons, and it can take lots and lots of honesty – something many people are too scared to face – but it’s worth it. It also takes a different slant than analysing, thinking or wishing.
So if you really want to improve your life and create it rather than being its victim, you owe it to yourself to ditch the misery fest and become more upbeat. In short, it’s not about thinking at all – it’s about feeling.
When you wake up in the morning – do you start the day feeling angry, stressed or depressed at the rain? You think it’s a rubbish day because of your arthritis, the job you hate, or the weather. In fact you are feeling in response to the health/work/anxiety or climate. It’s often hard for us to discern between our thoughts and feelings. Very often, we give credence to a situation believing we have thought something when in fact we are responding to it – feeling it and without any rationale to hold us back.
Every day is in fact a new opportunity – a chance to be an optimist instead of an Eeyore – a chance to stop the ill thought before it overwhelms you and to replace it with a desired feeling.
For example – how many times do you hear British people moan about the summer and the rain? Yet the case often is that there has been lots of sunshine. People only remember the rain and they complain about it. They don’t notice rainbows or shooting stars or flowers in the hedgerow – they’re too busy complaining. Psychologists call this selective attention. But if you always filter out the good things and hone in on the bad, you will continue to feel down and have more to grumble about!
So when you open your eyes, first thing in the morning, your positive experience begins then – with thanks for the new day – for whatever it is in life that fills you with joy whether that’s your home, your car, your kitten or the toast you’re having for breakfast. No thing, however small, is unworthy of praise. And here’s the key thing – even if you have money worries right now, you’re anxious about some area of your life or you just feel plain disappointed that you didn’t get the job, the hot date or the lottery win, you still have to search out the rainbow, even if it’s teeming with rain outside.
This is just the start – just the very tip of the iceberg – of how positive feeling makes a difference in your life. It’s what some people call the Law of Attraction. “The Secret” is a fairly contemporary exploration of this and yet – people such as Napoleon Hill (“Think and Grow Rich”) and Joseph Murphy (“The Power of Your Subconscious Mind”) discussed this exploratory attitude to life a century earlier.
It’s an exciting, life affirming way of being, rather than thinking which utilises the subconscious mind. It’s about telling yourself a new story – in this story you are the hero, not the victim. You are living your life anew, noticing what you have and appreciating it.
Basically, the more positive emotion you can invest in being grateful for the good things you see around you, the more good experiences come your way.
But because of all the years of subliminal messages, whining, complaining and Eeyore time, it can take a while to get your head round. The quickest way to experience a more joyful take on life is simply to dive in. Start with something small, then build in gratitude as a regular practice in your life – whether verbally reminding yourself of something good that has come out of something annoying, writing down three things each day that went well, or remembering one positive thing.
So if you’re by default a bit of a Grinch and you’d like to see a miracle or two happen in your life, try something new today. Think about the situation that really stresses you – the ratty boss, the impossible tax bill, etc, etc and just say, “Today I allow all situations to be as they are but I am so, so glad about my gorgeous house, etc.” Here, fill in the blank with whatever your feel-good thing is – remember what your rainbow is in the middle of the rain.
I guarantee if you start to make this a daily habit, you will see a shift. That’s when the magic happens.
Those of you with a scientific bent could say there are logical reasons why seeking out the positive aids us in focussing on out the opportunities and thus creating more. Only, when you start to experiment with this approach on a regular basis and build in a little bit of meditation, this is when regular and wonderful things happen that just can’t simply be put down to coincidence all the time.