Moving from Surviving to Thriving

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, 

“Moving from Surviving to Thriving” 

1_GreenGrassMOS (DbH) copy

Moving from Surviving to Thriving

“There is a force within that gives you life. Seek that.” — Rumi

Today we want to investigate what it takes to move our life from merely surviving to thriving. Too often we are preoccupied with simply trying to meet our daily needs. In survival mode, life energy may feel fragmented and depleted and our mind full of fear and frustration. But we are designed to thrive in life. To do that we only need to consciously live in the present moment. This open, creative, and purposeful state of awareness is our true self. When we live this wholeness of consciousness, we are thriving, and every thought and action is fulfilling.

Deepak:

If you paused and looked at your life today, are you thriving or just surviving?  To survive means that you’re meeting the necessities of life, such as food and shelter.  Surviving would also mean that those needs are met but you go about your daily experience without paying attention.  You wake up at the same time, put on the same clothes, drive to work or school the same way, eat the same comfortable food for lunch, follow the same evening routine as usual, and complete your day only to rise again and start all over.

Dee:

Why is it that I awaken every morning with a sense of excitement that the day ahead of me holds?  I awaken with a sense of gratitude and peace that all will be just perfect, no matter what happens.

Because today I have a Power Greater Than Myself in my life, a Higher Power of My Own Understanding, that I was able to make up in my mind and from my heart.  I learned to do this in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous when I entered in a state of disrepair, a loser, a waste of space on the planet.

I have learned to use the teachings, the suggestions, that AA has offered me to live a better, more meaningful life today.  And today I wake up knowing that my Higher Power, the driver of my car, my life, will take me to the experiences and people I need to meet, and learn from, and grow from, as I, as the passenger, just enjoy the ride.

And then I go to bed at night, again, with a sense of gratitude for today’s growth.

Deepak:

To thrive means that you’re free to explore and expand.  Seeing life as a field of opportunity rather than a fragile balance between making it and not making it.  This doesn’t mean you have to throw off all responsibilities or invite unnecessary chaos and disruption to experience something different.

Today we’ll discover what it means to thrive.  If wholeness is the field of pure consciousness, then each of us is designed to thrive.  The secret is to make choices that expand your awareness instead of choices that contract it.

Dee:

I remember being in a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism.  One of our group’s daily routines was to express an affirmation each of us came up with for our lives to share with the group.  An affirmation is emotional support or encouragement and in this group we used words.

So here Deepak speaks of wholeness which is why I bring this up.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole.  I felt a sense of purposelessness.  I had nothing for which to thrive and nothing to give.  Yet I was a mom of two beautiful sons, I had a wonderful husband, a good joy, a college degree, a house, two cars in the garage, and even a dog.  So why this sense of being not good and not whole?

Because I could not go a day without drinking and that drinking took me to dark places.  I was void and empty inside.  I was bewildered, puzzled at what the hell was wrong with me that the next drink was more important to all the gifts I had been given in my life.

Many years later, many years of sobriety and working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, many years of rigorous honesty, has led me to a spiritual place today.  I still repeat my affirmation.  And in my very core I can now feel that I AM a good person, I AM a whole person.  I am grateful for the journey that has led me to who I am today.

Deepak:

The opposite of wholeness is separation which comes down to living your life in a fragmented way.  We all do this.  We choose the people we want to be with and avoid or ignore others.  We are grateful for moments of fleeting joy and seek distractions to escape our everyday routine.  But no one is really satisfied living with bits and pieces of fulfillment.  We want to thrive and yet this desire cannot be fulfilled as long as the mind is restless and dissatisfied.

The source of wholeness and separation is the same.  In wholeness your consciousness is ever-expanding to find new ways to be fulfilled.  When you see your life as separate from others, your mind is attuned to limitations, such as failure, fear and frustration, so you grasp on to shreds of fulfillment, grateful for what you can get.

Dee:

Working the 12 Steps has opened new doors for me, has turned on the light bulb, has brought me to the realization that because I did not have a sense of self-worth or self-respect, and definitely no self-love, I lived in fear.  

So when I was “on stage” with you I ACTED the role that my life was awesomeness.  I wanted, I needed, your approval.  I went out of my way, put my family and myself last, to win your approval.  All out of fear.

Today I love myself for who and what I am.  More importantly, I understand who and what I am.  And I can put myself, my well-being, my recovery and spirituality first.  The rest falls into place.

Deepak:

Most people seek to improve their lives externally and what they value are tokens of fulfillment, like high income, a big house, a successful career.  But you can achieve all of those things and still feel unfulfilled because the restless, fragmented mind can never be satisfied.

Think of the stereotypes you see in the movies and on TV.  The midlife crisis man who leaves his wife for a younger model.  The rich kid who has it all but hold secret pain and yearns for a way out.  The unappreciated mother who finally sheds her burdens and lives the adventurous, carefree life she denied herself for years.

There is a reason these cliches are repeated time and again.  They are normalized feelings of discontent that most people can in some way identify with.  To get past this the secret is to let your awareness rest in its natural state of expansive receptivity.

Dee:

For me to let my awareness rest is to be in the moment, that place right in front of my nose.  There I can turn everything over to my Higher Power, the Universe, Mother Nature, God, whatever you want to call it.  Find what works for you because you know it wasn’t by your doing that this is all here.

Being in the moment reminds me that everything is perfect, right here, right now.  That my God has my back and is control.  There are no coincidences.  There are no reasons to regret the past nor worry about the future.  I shall be protected, loved and nurtured if I just have faith, turn off my thinking and go with my heart.

Deepak:

In any situation you’re either expanding or contracting in your conscious response.  When you’re consciously abiding in awareness you are in the present moment and your consciousness is expansive, creative and energized.  Your body-mind responds to each situation from a place of balance, harmony, and ease.

On the other hand when your mind is contracted and fearful you simply react impulsively.  This is a mind that responds with an automatic reflex of contracting.  Contracting is easy to identify.  You feel tense, uncomfortable, tired, perhaps even anxious.  You want the situation that challenges you to simply go away or resolve itself while you back out.  

Even if you don’t freeze up you react the way you have always reacted in the past.  The reactive mind is based on a primal belief that life is uncertain and threatening.  Therefore your stance must be one of closed off self-defense.

Dee:

With my toolbox for living that AA has given me in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, I find myself no longer having to react.  I am much calmer.  I can step back from drama and chaos and assess the whole situation.  

Spirituality has taught me to breathe and accept, even embrace, these situations.  What can I learn?  How can I grow?  What can I share?

Deepak:

The opposite of the reactive mind is the resilient mind.  This is the state of openness, acceptance and trust.  A resilient mind embraces new situations as creative opportunities.  

People who are open and accepting have a foundation for personal evolution.  They discover new resources in themselves every time they confront a new challenge.  In fact some psychologists studying those people who grow older while remaining young inside believe that the best thing you can do to remain young is to take on difficult challenges at any age.

Once you create the inner state of expanding awareness it’s only natural to radiate that energy all around you.  Then you have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive by following your example.

Dee:

Today I feel I have a purpose in my life that I did not have when I was in my active disease of alcoholism.  Today I “get to” share my experience, strength and hope with all those who enter my Dee Bubble and I find that I do, indeed, have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive.  For that I forever grateful.  And I remain forever humble.

With warmest aloha,

   Dee Harris

For those interested in another way I share my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Deepak:

We all know the difference between friends and family who feel contracted, judgmental, and unhappy, and others who feel open, loving, and welcoming.  The second group are influences of expansion.  Their energy feels different.  They’ve found the secret for how to thrive and not merely survive.

In our meditation we go to the source of pure consciousness which is infinitely expanded.  From there we follow our own path to fulfillment for ourselves and everyone we influence.

 

Advertisements

Bringing Fulfillment Closer

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, 

“Bringing Fulfillment Closer”.

1_SticksStonesMOS (DbH) copy

Bringing Fulfillment Closer

Deepak:

Your life’s purpose is about finding fulfillment which is where your energy should be directed.  When you feel fulfilled psychologists would say you are thriving.  But even in the most developed prosperous societies only about one-third of people are thriving.

The reasons for this are centered on stress, inner states like depression and anxiety, feeling insecure, worrying about the future, and so on.  The challenge is to improve the condition of your mental and psychological energy because that’s how you can improve your inner quality of your life.

Fulfillment is a daily goal and a life-long goal at the same time.  In the field of positive psychology it’s been found that the happiest lives are constructed from happy days.  How do we achieve this in the face of life’s difficulties and wounds lingering from the past?

The first issue is one of healing.  Whether it’s a physical trauma, emotional, mental or spiritual, everyone has had some sort of experience that could benefit from healing attention.  No one is free from the need to heal and becoming your own healer is always available to you.

All positive experiences have the potential to heal.  From the concept of “laughter is the best medicine” to meditation and other inner practices.  By design the body-mind possesses the natural ability to return to a healthy balanced state.  This implies that we need to get out of the way and let the healing response do its work.

Dee:

For me, my life’s difficulties and wounds that lingered from the past was my addiction to alcohol.  How do I heal from my alcoholism?  How can I call my alcoholism a “positive” experience?

Well today I can my my disease a positive experience.  I can call myself a grateful alcoholic.  For had I not been able to experience the negativity that goes along with any addiction like the lying, cheating, stealing, hiding, selling your soul and much more to get that next high which you cannot go one day without, I would not have experienced the positive I have today in my life in recovery.

And as far as the concept of “laughter is the best medicine”, if you’ve ever been in an AA meeting and heard the laughter from someone’s horrific alcoholic “war story”, you will realize that this laughter is healing.  We learn to love ourselves for who and what we are.  We learn to accept ourselves and realize that we are, indeed, gifts on this planet.  We can share our experience, strength and hope with others who enter our bubbles and who are experiencing life difficulties of their own.

This laughter, this meeting, this fellowship, this “getting out of the way” is all foreign to a newcomer in Alcoholics Anonymous or any of the other fantastic support groups available to us.  These fellowships provide a toolbox for healing, and living, in their 12 Steps.  

We find like-minded people who show us that our problems are not unique.  We no longer have to live in guilt and shame.  We get comfortable enough to share our stories, our lives, our deepest secrets, with one we trust, who holds our confidence, and expects nothing in return but our well-being.

We are introduced to an idea of creating a “God of Our Own Understanding”, a “Power Greater Than Ourselves”, to whom we can eventually turn our will and our lives over to.  It all sounded pretty suspicious and puzzling to me, too, but what did I have to lose?  I already loathed myself, couldn’t go a day without drinking, and felt I was a waste of space on the planet.

So when we “get out of the way and let the healing response do its work”, we turn our difficulties and wounds over to our new God (which, by the way, could be a rock, or a doorknob, or the fellowship or anything your little heart conjures up).  We learn that living from our minds and egos no longer serve us and we start living from our hearts.  We learn to trust and have faith that everything is perfect at this moment, and has been all along; we just didn’t know it.

Deepak:

Good sleep and reduced stress are two major ways to let the healing response work as it was intended to.  However, the healing most people need centers on meaning and purpose.  Water brings life to a garden when you direct it at each plant.  But water sprayed aimlessly in the air has no purpose and, therefore, brings little benefit.

The same is true of scattered aimless energy in you life.  We don’t need to do much to give our energy a direction.  All you need is a simple heart-felt intention to be open and aware.  That means you meet the present moment ready to be of the greatest service to those around you.  The boundless power and intelligence of creation will do the rest.  

When you are awake to the present moment, you will be guided to give love and receive love as well.  You will find ways to be of service to others and to make contributions that lead to a sense of accomplishment.  This gentle intention has tremendous power because your intention naturally increases and supports those positive experiences.

In my active addiction I didn’t have good sleep.  It seems like forever and a day I drank myself into a pass-out state and when I awoke, I came to.  My life was full of stress.  I worried more about what you thought of me than about what I thought of me.  Remember, I loathed and actually hated myself.  

I lived in fear of my appearances and behaviors.  I couldn’t trust myself when I drank.  So I became a closet drinker.  But the disease many times took me out in the real world where I met you, but don’t remember you, because I was in a black-out.

In my active addiction I had no religion nor spirituality.  I just had me and my brain and neither could stop me from drinking everyday.  I definitely had no purpose and oftentimes wondered why I was here.

Today I am so grateful I didn’t come to on that day when I missed my shift at work.  I am so grateful of the guilt and shame of what I thought I allowed myself become.  I am so grateful of not knowing if I had called work because I was in a black-out.  I am so grateful of the humiliation I felt not being able to ask my family what I had done, what I had said, who, if anyone, I had spoken to.

Wow, I don’t have to live that way today.  Today I have a choice of whether or not I want to put a drink in me.  I didn’t have that choice before.  And today, just for today, I choose this life in recovery where I have fulfillment, I have purpose, and I have a love for myself that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Thank you for being here with me today.  My hope is that one person who reads this gets a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.  My hope is that one person realizes he is not alone and can ask for help.  My hope is that one person can shed the guilt and shame and learn to love himself for who and what he is…a unique gift that no one else on this planet is!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Youthful Energy Is Dynamic and Resilient

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, “Youthful Energy is Dynamic and Resilient”.

Youthful Energy Is Dynamic and Resilient

“The most important energy is human spiritual energy, the energy of the mind, the energy that exists within us.” — Yoko Ono

Deepak:

When your energy is fresh, renewed, and joyful, there will always be enough for anything you want to do.  This is a holistic view of energy that goes far beyond the physical energy you get from food and exercise.  You also need emotional and mental energy for your mind.  We know that the body and mind are so deeply interrelated that it makes more sense to call it “the body-mind”. 

Your body at birth was a miracle of energy being used perfectly.  A newborn appears to sleep most of the time but there is enormous activity inside.  In fact, up to 70% of a newborn’s energy is being used to grow the brain.  Now as an adult you aren’t the same as a baby in one crucial way.  You must organize your energy yourself. 

This is a basic map for a holistic view of energy.  The entire body-mind is involved.  If you were asked the best way to increase your energy at every level, you might reply that you’d eat better, not skip breakfast, go to the gym more often, and so on.  You’d be focusing on physical energy.

But in reality the people who enjoy the best energy have a secret.  They are dynamically resilient.  They possess the flexibility to handle anything life brings to them…physically, mentally and emotionally…and after a situation is handled they bounce back quickly.

Dee:

Bouncing back quickly doesn’t come easily once we’ve reached adulthood.  Whilst growing up we’ve been bombarded by experiences, propaganda, media and people who assured us that more is better, stab whoever you need to in order to achieve these goals, look young and beautiful, and the more power, the better.

Wait a minute.  This doesn’t serve us.  This doesn’t nurture us.  This doesn’t allow us to be and do our best and be okay with who we are.  Oh great.  Now we have to unlearn all this.  No!  We get to unlearn all this because we know in our hearts that this way of thinking doesn’t serve us.  It destroys us and everyone around us.  Just look at our world today.  Sad, huh?

The way I was able to unlearn all this bullshit was in a roundabout way.  I didn’t plan it.  I didn’t know it would bring me to this place where I am today.  But I’m an alcoholic.  I didn’t know that either.  I found I couldn’t go a day without drinking, no matter how hard and how many ways I tried, I was baffled.  I hated myself.  I had no purpose.  I would look in the mirror with my hand forming an “L” and called myself a loser.  Pretty shitty, huh?

Well one day instead of coming to when my kids came home from school, I continued on in my pass-out state.  I missed my shift at work.  I was humiliated, guilt-ridden and full of shame.  How was I going to lie myself out of this one?

I had no more energy.  I was exhausted.  Exhausted of years of hiding, lying and cheating in order to drink everyday.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  So I called my boss at work and told her my honest to God truth (didn’t actually have a God at that time, that I knew of).  She helped me get into rehab and that’s where my life as it is today began.

My life today is one of gratitude and humility.  Today I get to make choices.  Today I choose to not have a drink.  I didn’t have that choice before getting sober and learning about the disease of alcoholism.

Today I have a purpose…to share my experience, strength and hope with anyone who enters my Dee Bubble.  I get to be rigorously honest without shame or guilt.  I can finally love myself for who and what I am!

I can be dynamically resilient because today I have a Higher Power of My Own Understanding who I honestly and faithfully know has my back.  I can get back into my ego and selfishness, my fear-based self.  But I don’t.  I don’t want to be that person anymore.  I don’t want to lie and be exhausted anymore.

So my resiliency comes from letting my Higher Power do the driving and knowing that everything is perfect at this moment.  When shit happens, it’s for a reason.  To help me.  Go figure.  I am to use each and every experience as a tool for learning, and growing, and being a better human being.  So I bounce back and remember that my glass is half-full.  I’m just along for the ride and the ride is like being on a magic carpet!

Deepak:

Dynamic resilience is biological at one level.  For example our tissues heal from a sprained ankle or we recover from a cold virus through the dynamic nature of the healing response.  But resilience as a holistic quality means that you rebound mentally and psychologically too.  If you want to be a powerful person, be resilient.  That’s far more important than toughness or assertiveness.

Your body-mind was designed to bounce back with dynamic energy.  The key isn’t just eating a balanced whole-foods diet and getting regular physical activity.  You need to boost the quality of your energy which involves getting good sleep and reducing stress.  

These are the two lifestyle factors that many people neglect.  Not realizing that lack of sleep and daily stress are the biggest energy drainers in modern life.  They also diminish the quality of our energy making us groggy, depressed and lacking enthusiasm.  

Fortunately stress and sleep issues are factors we can control through our lifestyle choices.  Once you begin to actively attend to sleep and stress you build a platform for improving the quality of your energy.  This happens by making positive choices everyday and minimizing negative choices.  Whether it has to do with family, work, your primary relationship or how you relate to yourself.

Dee:

So use your Higher Power.  If you don’t have one, make one up or use mine.  Have faith that something greater than yourself created the earth, this universe, this galaxy, and it wasn’t you.  Remember that you have no control over people, places and things, you can just make choices.  Just do your best and love yourself for that.

Hey, we’re all in this together.  Each and everyone of us has “issues”.  We are not alone.  There is a wealth of support out there for you when you get sick and tired of being exhausted from the lying, cheating and hiding.  You are only lying, cheating and hiding from yourself.

You’re going to be okay.  You ARE okay.  You’re YOU! with all your glory.  So love yourself for the gift that you ARE!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Youthful Energy Happens Today

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, “Youthful Energy Happens Today”.

Youthful Energy Happens Today

Deepak:

The two words “young” and “energetic”naturally go together.  The unbounded energy of children amazes and delights us.  Life pours through them and this energy is happy, playful and joyous.  It’s not the amount of energy that keeps us young; it’s the quality of energy.  

No matter our physical age the potential for energy of our childhood exists; it is always inside us.  You were designed to experience this kind of energy everyday and by paying attention to the quality of your energy you discover the secret for keeping your energy level up at the same time.  

When someone tells you that you look young, it’s a compliment that rests on a biological fact.  But the real reason you want to feel youthful and energetic is so that you can do all the things you want to do in life and experience everything to the fullest.  To be young in mind, body and spirit begins with energy as you process it in every cell.  All living things process energy in order to stay alive.

The first secret of youthful energy for life is to realize that this processing is ageless.  Energy flows in and out of you constantly, undergoing the same actions of breathing, eating, digesting, and healing that make you the most complex living creature on the planet.

The energy of your life expresses itself in four areas.  Physical energy is your capacity to move and work.  Mental energy allows you to understand issues and solve problems.  While emotional energy determines your ability to care and love others with patience, compassion, and tolerance.  Spiritual energy is the unlimited source and aim of all the other expressions of energy and you connect with it through meditation and present-moment awareness.

Everyone needs energy for all the demands in life.  But different types of people have different energy needs.  It is normal for physical energy to be at its peak in early adulthood while mental and emotional maturity usually arrive afterward.  

An exhausted, stressed teenager has a poor quality of energy and, therefore, is promoting the aging process far more than a fresh, joyful person who’s chronologically older.  When the quality of your energy today is optimized you will be in a state of restful alertness that you never need to lose.  This is the second secret of youthful energy.  

We don’t have a finite amount of energy that runs out like a depleting bank account.  Life-sustaining energy is constantly renewed.  Every cell in your body depends on this because cells don’t store up food, water and air for more than around three seconds.  Instead they thrive by living in the moment and trusting that abundant energy is naturally there.  When we have the same attitude we maintain the unbounded energy as children.

This brings up the third secret about energy – meditation increases it.  The popular belief that meditation is only a restful nap or quick way to relax misses the essential point.  Meditation renews energy at the source while at the same time it adds the qualities that make energy life-enhancing – joy, creativity, freshness, and alertness.  

Meditation is the technique but we also need a vision for lifelong youthful energy and that vision is wholeness.  Eating a certain amount of calories will put enough fuel in your body.  But what about mental energy, motivation or creativity?  What about feeling young at heart and experiencing love and fulfillment?  You need a source of energy for all these things in order to thrive and food isn’t enough.

Dee:

Staying mindful, in the moment, that place right in front of our noses, that is where we allow that youthful energy to happen today.  Not from the regrets of yesterday nor the worries of tomorrow.  Those places suck the energy right out of us.

So get in touch with who you are.  What you’re feeling.  Not about life itself.  But about who you are and how you feel about yourself.  Are you pissed because life has dealt you the victim card?  Are you angry because someone treated you unfairly?

You know, all things happen for a reason and there IS a reason these events happened.  It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to consider these life events in a negative or a positive way.  Because I don’t want to live my life nor exert my energy in a negative way, I choose to be positive and see the glass half-full.  Life is easier and a hell of a lot better that way.

Knowing that everything happens for a reason, reasons that are out of my control (like every person, place or thing with which I come in contact), I can be comfortable in knowing that my Higher Power, my spiritual being that has my back and is dealing me the cards I am ready to receive, is giving me lessons that will only help me as a human being.  I shall learn and grow and share with others these lessons.

And with this Power Greater Than Myself I can finally realize that I have gifts.  Gifts that no one else on the planet has.  I don’t need to compare my gifts with yours.  I don’t have to feel any less than nor better than you.  We are all equal human beings.  Shall we nurture and love each other or shall we destroy and hate each other?  

I hope you choose to be that loving and innocent child that came into the world full of excitement, acceptance and curiosity.  That inner-child is and always will be in you.  Allow it to come out, don’t worry about what anyone will think or say.  Just be you.  Love you!  Let that youthful energy happen!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in my Art with a Message of Positivity and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

From the Chopra Center Meditation

9 Ways to Increase the Positivity in Your Life

When certain blogs touch me I share them with you, with a few short paragraphs from me about how it pertains to my life in recovery…Dee Harris

9 Ways to Increase the Positivity in Your Life 

By Karson McGinley

You have more control over your happiness than you might think. In fact, the happiest people don’t leave their life satisfaction to chance, they do the work necessary to make their happiness a priority. While there is no happiness switch that you can simply turn on, focusing your attention on positive thoughts and actions through mindfulness will most certainly lead you toward a more enjoyable and meaningful life. 

Research shows that if you are willing to mindfully assess your current practices and thought patterns, and integrate some key choices into your life, you too can work your way up the happiness scale and experience the full spectrum of positivity that life has to offer. 

What Is Positivity? 

Positivity is more than just an optimistic and positive attitude. It consists of the full range of positive emotions— those that feel good in your body, mind, and heart. Positivity takes many forms and can be sparked by just about anything; however, it is not the same as happiness. Happiness is a result while positivity is a choice. While it is not really possible to just be happier, it is always possible to choose positivity over negativity. 

Barbara Frederickson, the world-renowned researcher and positive psychologist, identifies 10 forms of positivity that show up most often in people’s lives (while there are certainly other positive emotions in the emotional lexicon, these 10 have been the subject of the most research by positive psychologists):

•Joy 

•Gratitude 

•Serenity 

•Hope 

•Interest 

•Pride 

•Amusement 

•Inspiration 

•Awe

•Love 

When was the last time you felt each of these emotions? In her book, Positivity, Frederickson says that “getting in tune with your own positivity means going beyond one-size-fits-all terms like happy and good in favor of more precisely named emotional states.” Simply identifying the full range of possibilities brings them into closer reach. Positivity is everywhere, and appears in all shapes and sizes. 

Dee:

I always try to look at the glass “half full”, no matter what.  In happy/positive times that’s easy.  In more traumatic and trying times, not so easy.  But if I remember that everything happens for a reason, that I have no control over people, places, or things, I can faithfully realize that my Higher Power has a message for me, something for me to learn, and a way to help me grow.

Let’s say there’s a mass shooting or flood where many lives have been lost.  Tragic, yeah?  But when you see the compassion and love pouring in from all over the planet from those who weren’t in the midst of this tragedy, that would be a positive, would it not?

I have been told, “Dee, let me feel my grief.”  From that I have learned that we all have our own ways of dealing with our emotions and not to push my “look on the positive side” shit all the time.  Be mindful.  Be empathetic.

Why Should It Matter? 

There’s good reason to make your positivity a priority. At its most basic level, feeling good feels good, and is usually a sign that life-threatening diseases, illnesses, and circumstances are not consuming your energy. However, the latest research shows that not only is positivity a result of health, success, and well-being, it is a cause of these states too. 

Barbara Frederickson’s famous Broaden and Build Theory states that positive thoughts and emotions broaden people’s perspectives, and open their hearts and their minds. The more open they are to the gamut of possibilities, the greater joy they feel. And the more broad life feels, the more people can build upon their resources and their ability to handle whatever life throws their way. While negativity constrains your experience of the world, positivity expands it—literally! Evidence shows that positivity increases life span by up to 10 years.

Dee:

I have also found that being negative, angry or resentful (negative) takes a lot more energy than to be positive.  Being negative doesn’t serve me.  It takes energy that I don’t have and the energy I do have I would rather expend on something positive, if possible.

 Check out these nine ways to adjust your focus toward positivity. 

1. Take Inventory of Your Thoughts 

It all starts with your thoughts. How much positivity you experience is a direct result of how you choose to interpret the experiences in your life, so get real about your habits of thought. If you take time to see the good in any situation, you will feel more positive feelings as a result. So take responsibility for how your thoughts affect your emotional state, and decide whether your current habits benefit or hinder your enjoyment of life. 

Dee:

And remember to put YOU first.  Nurture yourself and love yourself for the uniquely gifted human being that you are.  Then all else falls into place.  When I allow myself to be in the moment (usually after I get that oh-oh feeling in my gut), I get back centered.  I get back to gratitude and humility and turn my will and my life back over to the care of a God of My Own Understanding who has my back and has everything under control.

Here are some ways to take inventory: 

See challenges as opportunities. A good way to check in with your current thought patterns is to notice how your mind responds (or reacts) when things go well or poorly. 

For example, if your best work friend gets a promotion, is your first thought one of support and excitement for that friend, or one of jealousy, resentment, and frustration? Or if you run out of gas on your way to pick up your kids from school, are you able to stay calm and centered, or do you see it as yet another way you are being punished by some almighty power? People with a positive outlook see obstacles as opportunities for growth and are able to experience empathetic joy for others’ good fortune. 

Dee:

Again, everything is perfect at this moment if you have faith in a Higher Power of Your Own Understanding.  If you don’t, make one up.  I did.  Just get back into nature and witness it with all its majesty and splendor.  Did that scene just appear out of nowhere?  How did it get there.  Probably by some omnipotent force.  Make that your Higher Power.

So when my car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, I can ever get all riled up or I can stay calm and know there is a lesson to be learned here.  I am not in control over people, places or things (my car).  I have towing insurance.  I have a car.  I have a phone in my car to call the tow truck.  I shall take better care of my car.  I am safe and my Higher Power has my back.  I get home unscathed.

Meditate, meditate, meditate. You can learn everything there is to know about your mental tendencies by having a regular sitting practice. Think of your meditations as your time to get to know yourself and witness your thoughts more clearly. By learning to separate from your thoughts, rather than identify with them, you will be able to make more mindful choices to your benefit. 

Dee:

I need to work harder on my meditations.  Until then, what helps me tremendously in getting to know me is writing.  Thus, here I am.  But whether I am writing or meditating, I find myself immensely grateful for this moment.  I find myself immensely humbled by this moment.

None of these feelings of positivity came easily.  While I was an active alcoholic I had no Higher Power.  I had no self-love nor self-worth.  I had no purpose on this planet.  I was just here.  But I was just here to be on a journey that brought me to recovery and spirituality and positivity and to a Higher Power of My Own Understanding.  I always had it but just didn’t know how to access it.

Rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous showed me how.  They showed me how to understand, then love, myself for who and what I am.  And then they showed me how to share it.

2. Tip the Scales to Achieve the Positivity Ratio 

Barbara Frederickson’s work on positivity has revealed another useful theory called the Positivity Ratio. It says that there is a “tipping point” between languishing and flourishing that is three positive experiences for every negative one. By tipping the scales to maintain a 3:1 ratio, Frederickson says people will enter an upward spiral of positive growth and well-being. 

What happens if your ratio looks more like 2:1 or below? Negativity trumps positivity with regard to impact, meaning you are more likely to focus on the one scowling face in a sea of 100 audience members at your talk than the 99 receptive faces in crowd. The Positivity Ratio suggests that your positive experiences can get swallowed up by your negative experiences if the scales are tipped in the wrong direction. If this is the case, both increasing your positivity and decreasing your negativity will help. 

Dee:

Again, this is no easy feat.  It takes time.  A lot of time, but it is so worth it!  Learning to realize that that scowling face has a story behind it turns that negativity into a positivity of compassion and empathy.  Put yourself in that scowling person’s shoes.  Imagine his journey.  Be respectful.  Be kind.  And if your feathers get ruffled, simply walk away.

3. Decrease Negativity in Your Life 

It sounds obvious, but simply decreasing negativity in your life makes room for the natural flow of positivity to come forth. Of course, some forms of negativity are inevitable (e.g., mourning the loss of a loved one), but what about the gratuitous negativity that creeps in and corrupts your ability to function at your best? 

Ask yourself: what do I spend most of my time doing, and who do I spend most of my time with? If your media consumption is depressing you, take a break. If your friends have become toxic and gossipy, resist the urge to fit in by being negative yourself. If work tasks are frustrating you, determine what responsibilities you might be able to delegate to someone else. 

And what about the negativity you have noticed within yourself? How hard are you on yourself when you miss a deadline at work? Or when you accidentally have broccoli in your teeth at Back-to-School Night? Challenge yourself to avoid negative self-talk—life is hard enough without piling self-critical, negative thoughts on yourself. As best as you can, minimize your ruminations on challenging situations, and practice identifying them as soon as they show up. A simple deep breath can be all that is needed to witness a negative thought dissipate.

Dee:

Isn’t it wonderful to be a perfectly imperfect human being?  We’re all in this together.  So don’t judge.  Don’t judge others and definitely don’t judge yourself.  Learn from the negative thoughts that enter your mind.  Be being more mindful from past experiences like missing that deadline or having broccoli in your teeth.  They caused that uncomfortable feeling in your gut, didn’t they?  Let that go.  It doesn’t serve you except to teach you that you will be more attentive with deadlines and dental hygiene in the future. 

4. Employ Gratitude as Your Full-Time Employee 

It is no surprise that is one of the surest ways toward a happier life. The more you appreciate your body, circumstances, and relationships, the more you will flourish and your happiness will grow. Once you have become aware of the presence of negativity in your life (or the lack of positivity), you can start to inject more grateful observations into your experiences. Remember, positivity is impacted by the way you choose to interpret what goes on in your life. By identifying something you can be thankful for in any given moment, you trigger upward growth in your well-being and quality of life. 

Dee:

When the negative creeps in, I get that gnawing feeling in my gut.  It does not serve me.  I turn to getting back in the moment, out of my ego, out of Dee.  I turn to my Higher Power and gratitude and humility.  I remember that today I have choices whilst in my addiction my only choice and reason for living was the next drink.  To not drink today fills my heart with endless joy and positivity.  Today I have choices.

5. Savor the Good Times 

Do you find yourself rushing through life? In a world where technology is teaching you that faster is better, it is important to remember the value of slowing down and savoring the good times. A wine connoisseur would never chug a glass of wine; he or she engages his or her senses to fully enjoy one sip at a time. 

The next time you sit down to a delicious meal of food, eat slowly and savor each bite. When you have a conversation with your child or elderly relative, rather than hurrying them up, notice the sparkle in their eye and the cadence of their speech. Pay attention to the details as if you wanted to commit them to memory. Joy lives in the moments that are all too often passed by with laser-like focus toward some imagined finish line. 

Dee:

Moving to Hawaii was one of the most wonderful gifts I have given myself (with the help of my Higher Power).  Living on an island means there is no rush to get anywhere because I would just go in circles around the island.  When I’m in a tizzy about traffic my Higher Power says what’s the rush?  I left the Mainland to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern-day society.  This move nurtures me and saved my sanity.

So savor this moment, right where you are.  Know it is perfect.  Enjoy it.  Know you are perfect.  Enjoy yourself.

6. Visualize Your Journey to Future Success 

While some people tend to dwell on the past, others get hung up on the future. Worrying about the future is the definition of anxiety, but visualizing positive future experiences is a recipe for positivity. 

Studies show that creative visualization of the steps needed to achieve a future task lead to more successful outcomes than no visualization at all, or of merely visualizing the positive outcome itself. Picturing with vivid clarity all the things you need to do in order to pass your bar exam, for example (i.e., study at the library five days a week), will help you to pass your test more effectively than simply picturing being told that you passed. So it is not just seeing the good in your present that matters, but practicing seeing things going well in the future as well. 

Dee:

Being in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, working with a sponsor and working the 12 Steps of AA, has given me a spiritual toolbox for living.  I have learned that I must do the footwork, that visualization isn’t enough.  So I live my life with the Principles I have learned, learned to suit up and show up, and learned to do my best.  Then I can live my life with a big smile on my face!

7. Consider Your Relationships 

Simply spending time with other people will increase positivity in your life. Countless studies have shown that being together with others is a crucial part of the good life. So get out and engage with other people every day, no matter what. And appreciate them! 

Ask yourself: Do I appreciate the people most important to me? Do they know how grateful I am for them? Don’t wait until someone is out of your life to relish in his or her goodness. Relationships are the number one indicator of happy lives, and therefore deserve your regular attention and gratitude. 

And as for the people you don’t care for so much? Try to offer them compassion, understanding, and the benefit of the doubt. Great leaders see the best in other people and focus on their potential rather than their limitations. 

Dee:

Many of my relationships today are with like-minded people in the fellowship of AA.  My purpose today is to share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my bubble.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep it.

However, I meet many people in my business of selling my art with a message of inspiration.  I find that there are many like-minded people who don’t suffer from addiction issues but we thrive in each other’s company, nonetheless.

No matter who my God puts into my life on a daily basis, I strive to be mindful, respectful, compassionate and loving.  And I learn so much from each and every one of these meetings.  No coincidences.  Everything happens for a reason.

8. Get Outdoors 

Researchers agree on a strong correlation between being in nature and happiness. Because the reality of most people’s modern lives keeps them indoors, just going outside more often has the ability to boost positivity. What do you do when you get outside? Tune in to your senses. See the colors, textures, and shapes that appear naturally all around you. Smell the scents of your neighborhood’s flora and fauna. Feel the cool breeze or warm sunshine on your skin. Broaden your awareness of your surroundings, and you will expand the possibilities of your life. 

Dee:

I am lucky to be able to work outdoors.  Most of my days are spent outside.  I feel a bit stifled when I’m indoors too long.  If you’re like me, getting outside gets you back in the moment in front of your nose.  And when I feel that breeze around my shoulders, I feel my God wrapping His arms around me.  Yep.  Back in the moment knowing all my needs are being fulfilled.

9. Keep Expanding, Growing, and Learning 

Finally, remember these words from Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” 

It is human nature to want to expand and grow over time, so do what you can do to be sure you’re always in an atmosphere of growth. Make it a habit to remind yourself that it is natural to outgrow jobs, people, and situations if they leave you feeling stagnant. 

Your willingness to learn something new, broaden your range of interests, and improve your God-given talents will give you a positive mindset and have you feeling more positive and resourceful in all areas of your life. 

Dee:

To wake up excited every morning to experience what God has in store for me is pretty awesome (sure beats coming to after passing out due to heavy drinking the night before).  So whatever comes into my Dee Bubble on this day is meant to come.  It’s up to me how I want to take it.  I’ll take it as a positive.  Even the bad shit.  It’s all for learning, yeah?  For growing and then sharing that growth, yeah?  You can do it too!  Keep up the good work!

But Take It Easy … Over Analysis Kills Positivity 

As you experiment with positivity, try to be light with it. As Frederickson points out, one of the great paradoxes of research on positivity is that over analysis stops it right in its tracks. Consider your journey in this life as an assignment from the universe on how to live well. Wriggling free from the grip of negativity toward the light of positivity might be some of the most important work of your life. But you must see it to believe it. 

So the question stands: What small steps can you take today toward living a happier, fuller life? 

Dee:

Today I can look at my life as a journey from the universe.  The universe, my God, my Higher Power has a plan for me.  I wasn’t ready to grasp that plan until I experienced my journey through my fear-based, ego-driven years.  So today I get to be part of this plan, in its entirety, in my entirety, to share my experience, strength and hope with all who enter my bubble.  And like ripples on the water, this strength and hope will travel far to all who need it.  And that is what I do today toward living a happier, fuller life.

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those who are curious about my Art with a Message of Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

About the Author 

Karson McGinley Yoga Teacher and Life Coach 

Karson McGinley is the owner of Happy-U Yoga (https://www.happyuyoga.com) in San Diego, California. A teacher for over a decade, Karson works to bridge the gap between the ancient wisdom of yoga and the modern science of human flourishing through her classes, bi-weekly article contributions to The Chopra Center, and leading the Happy-U Yoga & Positive Psychology Teacher Training program. Karson teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, and Anusara ElementsTM classes, inspired by the teachings of Classical and Tantric yogic philosophy, positive psychology, and metaphysical texts like A Course in Miracles . By sharing spiritual themes, scientific research, and anecdotal… Read more (/bios/karson-mcginley)  

The Chopra Center