Have Gratitude In Your Daily Life – Positive Vibe Series

When I lie on my back and look up at the Milky Way on a clear night and see the vast distances of space and reflect that these are also vast differences of time as well, when I look at the Grand Canyon and see the strata going down, down, down, through periods of time which the human mind can’t comprehend . . . it’s a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I am alive to appreciate these wonders, when I look down a microscope it’s the same feeling, I am grateful to be alive to appreciate these wonders. 

Richard Dawkins

The concept of gratitude is described in different ways as an emotion, a virtue, or an attitude. Whatever your understanding of gratitude, often, it is defined by a two-step process: 1) “recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome” and 2) “recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.” (Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough). Yet, whatever your disposition with its meaning, interestingly, gratitude is not merely a cultural creation. Scientific research has shown that the concept is embedded in our evolutionary development. For instance, it has been observed that birds, vampire bats, or fish incur some costs to themselves in helping another member of their species, in view that it might be beneficial to them, eventually.

Furthermore, scientists suggest that gratitude has been developed gradually from this “tit for tat” behavior, better known as “reciprocal altruism.” A process that is based on turning strangers into friends who will likely help one another. Further studies on chimpanzees support this idea that these primates share food with another of their kind if they have been groomed or helped by them in the past. Or, studies from neuroscience have observed some areas in the brain that involve experiencing and expressing gratitude. 

Consequently, gratitude is an inherent cognitive response strongly associated with greater happiness and better physical health. A study has shown that people’s heart health improves when they show appreciation, which is related to gratitude. Regardless of how you feel, express, or express gratitude, this emotion undeniably builds stronger relationships, creates good experiences, increases our well-being, and cultivates an optimistic attitude. Not to mention, gratitude has psychological benefits perceived as an intervention to overcome negativity. Moreover, individuals who have a grateful disposition are better protected from various forms of burnout. For instance, athletes who have grateful mindsets are less prone to burn the candle at both ends.

Nevertheless, the ability to be grateful requires seeds of humility and the willingness to develop our disposition intelligently. One of the most effective ways to cultivate gratitude is to keep a journal. Studies have found that “counting your blessings” for ten weeks and keeping them in a gratitude journal increases optimism and improves life satisfaction, self-esteem, and, importantly, decreasing depression symptoms. Knowing well that as humans, we are more sensitive to negative emotions than positive. For instance, we will be miserable if things are taken away from us than if we were to receive a gift. Needless to say that being grateful does not translate into living a modest life with no ambition. On the contrary, gratitude is one of the essential components of self-improvement. It starts with full awareness of what can go wrong, what we can be grateful for, nurture a positive mindset, and build on our skills to reach our goals and progress.

In the meantime, remember:

Learn to be thankful for what you already have while you pursue all that you want.

Jim Rohn

 

 

Featured image by Perfectionist Magazine

Cultivate resilience which is a formula for happiness! – Positive Vibes Series

You can be isolated, knocked down, lose your reputation or your business, your lover may call it a day, well many things can go wrong, and consequently, you want to crawl under a rock and stay there forever! The truth is that heartbreaks, sufferings, and pain are real and part of life. By acknowledging this fact, you realize that quitting or withdrawing to a dark abyss is not an option unless you want to be part of the extinction club’s honorary member.

Kathrin Federer
Kathrin Federer

Human history proves that positive adaptation, better known as resilience, is part of our survival regardless of our different predispositions or vulnerabilities. We dare to learn and face dire circumstances, pick up the pieces, and triumph. While traumatic experiences shape our resilience, the good news is that this quality can be cultivated.

“Everyone faces up more bravely to a thing for which he has long prepared himself, sufferings, even being withstood if they have been trained for in advance.” – Seneca

What Seneca refers to is your ability to intervene and forge your resilience by conforming to Stoic philosophy. The school of thought encourages thoughtful analysis into the dark web of your fears and agonies by distinguishing between what you can control and what you don’t have control over, even more between the reality and our perception of the situation.

Oleg Shupliak
Oleg Shupliak

All this considered, whether you are currently experiencing difficult times or have undergone one, whether you are fearful of what the future has in store, employing a stoic strategy helps you cope with the challenges. Begin with picturing the worst that can happen and trust that you are capable of bouncing back from the unthinkable. The idea is preparing yourself to face the unknown and what could go wrong, and the goal is not about being less fearful but building courage. Tapping into your inner strength and to you emplace systems to build up your resilience.

Initially, reflect on your life vision, the kind of life you want to lead, where you want to be in 3 or 5 years, what is the purpose of your existence. Next, write down the significant past experiences that have shaped your emotions to understand where you are in life. For both exercises, go to self-authoring.com and use their online writing programs to explore your past, present, future by gaining a deep understanding of yourself.

Subsequently, consider exerting the following practical efforts recommended by experts in your life strategy and increase your capacity to recover from difficulties:

  • Develop healthy eating habits and regular exercise to strengthen your overall health and increase the chances of better and faster recovery from injuries or sickness.
  • Practice forgiveness – Nelson Mandela said: “When I walked out of the gate, I knew that I was still in prison if I continued to hate these people.” Forgiveness is a necessary attitude to build resilience and not an alternative.
  • Know that there is no guarantee in life (the only guarantee is that we are mortals).
  • Invest in people and relationships that are supportive and encourage you to get through hard times.
  • Commit to routines – establish priorities and stay with it even when things are out of control. For instance, mapping your day, being aware of the cost of the wasted time, performing tasks that are integral to your goals will weed out the act of procrastination. As your actions become your habits, you can restrain impulses and become less reliant on motivation and take responsibility to move forward. “Foolish are those who…have no aim to which they can direct every impulse and, indeed, every thought.” – Marcus Aurelius.
  • Have back up plans
  • Refrain from putting all your eggs in one basket
  • Transform your resentment to energy and channel it towards your goals

 

 

 

Featured image by Fernanda Suarez 

Smile, Laugh, Hug, Expect Good Sensibly & Be Kind – Positive Vibes Series

Here’s the shocking truth: very straightforward behaviors such as a smile, hug, and laughter are the fastest way to boost positive emotions, although, there is this huge BUT:  if you don’t feel the sensation do not force it.

Maurizio Cattelan

Nothing is worse than a hypocritical and soul scratching forced laughter that stems from bitterness, resentment, and sheer Janus-faced intention.  It is healthier to be expressive of your true emotions than masking your low spirits by a pretense that “I am a happy jolly person.” Obviously, at times, treating yourself to a necessary smile, laughter or a hug to inspire and encourage yourself or others to keep going is sensible and productive.

Nobody argues that hugging and laughing calm the nervous system, lowers your blood pressure, your stress hormone and positively increases your social connections. However, you should push yourself to aim high by taking conscious decisions to feel good inside. Sometimes, we are confronted with situations where something or someone has made us uncomfortable or annoyed. A fake smile is not the remedy but as Rene Descartes remarked: “Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it.”

Salvador Dali

Elevating your soul is not an easy task. How can you control your agitation? The way forward is to align your soul with gratitude, understanding and questioning your motive as well as others. No matter the intentions, being thick skin is not to put up with rude and unkind criticism. Of course, mastering such an outlook in life takes courage, as a very good friend of mine advised, either let it go and smile or confront it by keeping your tone light.  Like a feather, the feeling takes you to cloud nine, where you feel at ease, where your boundaries are outlined and expect good sensibly with a smile.

Naturally, not every day you can be forgiving, understanding, or want to hug or laugh, the road to self-growth is difficult but remember it is worth every step of the way. As long as you are present in your own life and manage difficult emotions like frustration, anger, and disappointment appropriately, you are on the right path. Occasionally, you feel enraged or sad, do not stifle it and let go of self-judgment. You should accept that being vulnerable is part of being human and maybe along the way, you have tied your self-esteem on things and other people to the extent that might bring the worse in you. It is healthy to pull back, replenish and learn to smile, laugh and hug so that next time they will spare your anxiety.

There is another rule when you are at odds and lack the capacity to express with civility, the ideal is to refuel by tapping into your empathy reserve and re-align your behavior in ways that reinforces your generous, gracious and thoughtful intentions. And what better ways to swell kindness and your noble motives but with a smile, a hug, laughter, and kindness.

Forgive – Positive Vibes Series

Forgiveness happens when you no longer feel angry, resentful towards someone or wish to punish them. Forgiveness does not happen overnight. It feels like stepping into a dark empty space, leaving behind the nyctophobia mind at the door. Overwhelmed with anxiety, you move hesitantly, feeling powerless over your fear of the unknown. Your racing heart warns you of the prominent threats. The risk of being humiliated, taken for a sucker, and asking yourself thousands of times over, why you let those rotten-minded people off the hook?

The simple answer is: You want peace and growth. You do not want inflammation in your body. You do not want to suffer anxiety or depression. “If hope gives you wings, forgiveness will often be what you will need to get off the ground.” The lingering idea of revenge is tasty but just like wasabi, it gets you an endorphin rush from the pain and after a second, oops! it dissolves. Yes, sometimes things do not make sense, you try to teach the wrongdoers a lesson by mirroring back or calling out someone for acting shockingly bad towards you, albeit their lack of intelligence, they eclipse their misery and at times bitterness with innocence! 

You want to release the negativity, but keep in mind the progression is slow, you want to blow away the anger but it cannot pass through the first line of defense meshed around you by your ego. You will go two steps forward and then five steps back. Reluctantly you pick yourself up knowing well that the only way is to stand on your feet and continue on the path of self-care with humility.

Digital Artist – Alper Yemenicigil

How? Well, you can choose to practice the five-step REACH model developed by Everett Worthington:

  • Recall – The first step is to objectively recall the misdeed. Do not scrutinize with negativity light nor allow victimhood behavior to take over your entire existence. In fact, wallowing in self-pity makes you perceive the world and people around you through a paranoid mental lens. While it is important to acknowledge that you have suffered but you won’t be able to forgive and go forward in life unless you step out of the victim role. Instead of assigning blame, take responsibility. Stop obsessing about what-ifs and rise above the primitive ego.
  • Empathize – Next, make the effort to put aside your biases and try to understand the other person’s way of thinking and reasoning. Make sure that you do not underplay the wrong but only grasp their inner-struggles, their intentions or mindset.
  • Altruism – Subsequently, consider forgiveness as an altruistic gift. Look back on a time that you transgressed and you were forgiven.
  • Commit – Kindly, commit yourself to forgive. Work on your commitment. Write your wounds in a journal or make the effort to practicing small acts of forgiveness. For instance when someone cuts you off in traffic, do not take it personally, just let it slide.
  • Hold on – Finally, hold on to your forgiveness. This stage is difficult since something can trigger the memory and you are back to square one. Yes, you have been hurt, you have accepted what has transpired, analyzed yourself, learning from your mistakes, recognizing your faults and at this point see yourself as a survivor. It is not about pressing on the delete button but changing your reactions towards its memory.

Throughout the process, remove yourself from despicable situations. Surround yourself with good people. Well-intentioned individuals that take your hand and lift you up. People who will be happy if you succeed and empathize with your sadness. Immerse in laughter, positive activities and hone your social conscious to be useful. Re-connect with your inspired self. The one that seeks knowledge, the one that is creative, the one that hates stagnation. The one that blows out its anger to get as close to indifference towards the offenders, the one that is reluctant to live in regret of dwelling in the past and letting the present and future slip away. The one that is determined and the one that opens its heart to travel the arch from the bruised ego to feeling neutral and ultimately forgiveness.

Lastly, bear in mind that at times the perpetrators are ignorant and will never realize that your forgiveness was self-purification pilgrimage. As a matter of fact, once you reach this state of mind you will be oblivious to their interpretation.

 

Featured image by Toxic Treats

 

Quote – Determination

“I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered unto this world in defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, walk or sleep with the sheep. I will hear not those who weep and complain, for their disease is contagious. Let them join the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny.” 
Nirmal Purja MBE
“Everything in life is possible armed only with a determined approach and a positive mindset.”
Nirmal Purja MBE
Until October 2019, the fastest-known time for climbing all 14 of the world’s 8000-meter mountains was eight years. Nirmal Purja MBE, a Nepalese mountaineer has climbed the world’s 14 highest peaks in the space of just six months. Thanks to his determination and mindset.  

Quote – Quiet Your Mind

There is absolutely nothing about your present circumstances that prevents you from making progress, one step at a time.

Marc & Angel Hack Life Quotes

 

Justin Peters @jstnptrs

Trust me when I say nothing stays the same forever. Life has a way of untangling the mess and showing you the remedy. All the painful episodes, the wrong, the unexpected hurt and the loss are being made up for. You just need to believe that things will get better. You need to step out of the darkness. Of course, every so often, it is difficult to get out of the shambles single-handedly. Eventually, you will recognize wise and well-intentioned people that will pull you out of the abyss. The emptiness you feel inside will be filled with hope, joy, and purpose. And things will start improving.

Because you always have a choice to transform for better. You go through hell and let the bitterness melt, you take the dirt and polish it, you take the punch and you learn to fight for yourself with dignity. The key is to accept that everything can go wrong but eventually, it will resolve. You need to take the pieces, sharpen your good sense, quiet your inner-demons, perfect your virtues to shape your best version. The version that is stronger, kinder and forgiving. It takes time, but gradually, the traumas will become pale, you will heal, and you’ll bounce back guided by empathy and generosity. You’ll start with nothing and end up with everything. 

Jupilings

 

“Featured art by Justin Peters

Quote – Best Version of Yourself

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”

Carl Jung

When you beat yourself up every time you fall short, when you are tired to the point that you don’t want to get out of bed, when you are scared to fail, when you worry and start overthinking, when you strive for perfection knowing well that it’s actually holding you back, take a deep breath, calm your nerves and know that you are doing great. It is not a weakness to feel helpless or frustrated in demanding situations and challenging moments. Live with it, accept it but do not let it define you. Take the time to rest, recharge, heal and continue your purpose in life which is to refine the best version of yourself.

 

 

Featured image by Karen Jerzyk

Change Negative Thoughts Instantly!

“Our views of our body image – what’s on the outside – are directly affected by our emotions on the inside.”

Dr Alan Watkins

Are you feeling stressed out? Are you facing challenges? Are you having negative thoughts about how things are going? Do you have a poor body image that affects how you present yourself?

Next time you are riding on the negativity rollercoaster, notice the mindless chatter that is taking over your cognitive reasoning. Recognize that tension and anxiety are the sources that are stirring up the useless inner voice that signals destructive criticism. This negativity is unrealistic, and if it is not challenged, it will consume your health, your immune system and turn you into a self-absorbed toxic person who is unaware of the world around them. So be aware!

Introspection and shifting your mindset to a positive state can be achieved through myriads of ways. There are lots of self-help books, treatments, training, and the list goes on. However, it is possible to remedy the way we feel at any moment of the day! You can control the rush of negative thoughts and tensions in the heat of the moment by shifting your focus to your heart’s physiology.

Dr. Alan Watkins, a leadership expert, neuroscientist & CEO of Complete Coherence, explains that we can balance our emotions by controlling our breath. He further points out the connection between the optimum level of our performance and our physiology. Therefore, to reach our “A game,” we need to get a grip of our different psychological and physical layers:

Performance – To be at our best, we need to change our behavior.

Behaviour – To change our behavior, we have to change the way we think.

Thoughts – Our feelings influence our thoughts.

Feelings – Our feelings are the awareness of our emotions.

Emotions – Emotion is the energy in motion from all the streams of data,

Physiology – Streams of data produced by functions and mechanism within our body,

Therefore, in a stressful situation, practicing rhythmic and smooth breathing to regain a coherent heart rate pattern allows the flow of data in our body to function without a blockage. Due to our ancient survival instinct, our frontal lobe shuts off as the time intervals’ variation between the heartbeats increases. Once you master the smooth and rhythmic breathing, you have set the ground to gain control over the fabric of your mind. As a result, the mixed self-help efforts or developmental training exerted on those psychological layers will help you stay alert and energetic to give your best. Only with practice, in an anxious state, you can steer your heart rate variability to an ideal pace so that your brain regains its clarity. The emphasis should be to breathe in measured, regular, and smooth intervals to have a coherent heart rate pattern.

Now that you are aware of the connections and most importantly, you have the elixir of control, next time you are restless and on edge, you know precisely what to do: zoom out of the negative perception of your body or mind and zoom in to your heart and breathing rhythm.

For more watch:

Featured image courtesy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy Marvin

Stop Judging – Take Back Your Power! Foundation of Mindfulness #1

At times, we form an opinion or conclude, deliberately or otherwise, only to find out that the story in our head is polluted. By judging, we work hard to build a wall and to protect ourselves and live securely. The problem with this stance in life is that it often prevents us from making meaningful and genuine connections with oneself and others. Although judging is an instinct, you can be aware of it and control your impulses. When you adopt a mindful outlook, you embark on the intelligence and wisdom track. The non-judging approach is the protective gear that will support you against unsound decisions and irrational reactions in life. Releasing judgment is stepping over self-made barriers to see and grasp “things as they are.”

Todd Schorr Art
Todd Schorr Art

The myths and sensationalized stories are good examples of our preconceived judgments. Overall, the side effects of judgments such as fear or condemning bad and good categories in our mental descriptions create prejudices, biases, and stress. The habit of categorizing is useful for filing systems, but when it comes to our life relations and connections at times, it limits our perspective and growth.

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Todd Schorr Art

How to remove the obstructive judgemental attitude? 

  • Be mindful- Recognize the judgments that unfold whether you are performing a task or when you are in fight-flight mode. Observe how your mind describes the situation: as mundane, suspicious, energetic, or any other attribute that influences your behavior or reaction to that particular circumstance. For instance, to observe our judgemental mind, practice breathing. Set a time and start paying attention to your breath, and indeed, your oblivious mind will begin harassing you by labeling your practice as boring. Basically, the approach is not to suppress your judgment but to be aware of it.
  • Don’t take it personally – I remember that when our son started high-school, the amazing principal recommended that as the parents of young teenagers, do not take their withdrawn behavior and uncommunicative reactions personally. Instead, be continuously loving, caring, and have a set framework of rules. Don’t snoop; they will eventually talk to you and tell you all about their adventure but on their own time. It was great advice, one that kept the peace. Or, as adults, it happens that you will encounter disagreements. As long as you remember that the conflict is not about you, it helps to detach the “me” connection and give others the benefit of the doubt.
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    Todd Schorr Art
  • rame – This approach is about not changing the facts but having an open mind to recognize that people have different ways of doing things or different perspectives. Instead of getting angry or miserable, channel your energy to pause and reflect. The challenge is to dive underneath the anger, and your oxygen tank is your ability to reframe. With regular practice, the efforts to reframe a situation become a habit, immensely rewarding, especially when you encounter setbacks. Reframing a problematic situation or dire circumstance allows you to transform the problems into possibilities and remain healthy, composed with a positive mindset.

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    Todd Schorr Art
  • Self-reflection – As soon as you start judging, try to ask yourself whether you have had the same or similar behaviour.

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    Todd Schorr Art
  • Don’t blame yourself or others- As much as the blame game is an easy defense mechanism, indeed, it is unproductive and unpleasant. The tendency to distort our self-esteem with blame is inept. Instead, see things as they are, and break away from blaming yourself or others. Again reframe the situation, replace words such as should to could or losses to learning experiences to make a pathway for much better opportunities.
  • Be a friend to yourself – Connect with your strength, intelligence, and love yourself. Dismiss negative thoughts and destructive criticism. When you stop judging, you will distance yourself from gauging others and assume an impartial approach in life. One that helps with mastering your mind.
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Todd Schorr Art

Featured image by: Todd Schorr

Letting Go – Foundation of Mindfulness #7

Changing the habit of non-acceptance

  • Let the sensations come and go
  • Do not take things personally
  • Acceptance is not choosing over your preference
  • Let go of control; not everything is what we imagine nor what we believe
  • Do not react to the unwanted situation
  • Take your focus away from what you agree or disagree
  • Recognize that flaws do exist in life, in people, and your doings and point of views
  • Detach yourself from distressing thought by not giving too much weight to it
  • Create a supportive slogan for yourself to accept things as they are in challenging moments

Ultimately, by allowing things to be as they are and staying neutral, you will learn to cultivate an acceptance attitude to reduce your anger, remain calm, and eventually find solutions. Remind yourself that the sensations that you feel are magnified. Just like in a horror movie, the knife is on the kitchen counter, but it does not mean that you will be stabbed with it. Being mindful is to know that you don’t have to solve everything nor to change it at once.

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Art by Alex Gross

How to let go

The body

  • Observe your hurtful and discouraging thoughts
  • Practice diaphragmatic breathing and imagine that the frustrating emotion flows away with your exhalation

Emotions and feelings

  • Instead of ruminating on the story and inflating the situation with fear and panic, take it at face value
  • Sometimes it is best to engage with the negative thoughts and to confront them with counter argument
  • Know that if something doesn’t go your way is not the end of the world, not necessarily other bad things will continue to happen
  • Set an intention to realize the root cause of the negative thoughts, tension and frustrations
  • Journalling your feelings is helpful and sometimes physical venting like yelling off into a pillow works
  • Recognize that you have a choice to bid farewell to the hurt
  • Create peaceful images to call to mind as a support system
  • Realize that you are not in the centre of the universe
  • In frustration ask yourself is this who you really are? Then align yourself with your peaceful and intelligent self

When you cultivate peace in your attitude towards life, you are diffusing fear. Instead of kicking yourself and others over mistakes, past hurts or old injustices, learn to detach and let go of the anxiety that is brewing from the fear, criticism or offence.  It is satisfying to expose with rage the wrongdoers, vicious people or storm over unfairness but letting go with compassion and forgiveness makes you stronger. The idea is not to ignore nor to tolerate or to yield to unjust but to see things as they are! Your strength to analyze the situation with its risks and being able to shut off the anxieties which cripple and bring you to a depressive mood gives you the control over your emotions and allows you to accumulate the best possible outcome.

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Art by Merelle Fabien

For further information refer to “The Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Feature image by Michael Bergt