HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT? 

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

Dee:  This blog was inspired by “How Do You Deal with Your Disappointment?”

by Aishwarya Shah. 

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INSPIRATION 

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT? 

JANUARY 7, 2019 BY AISHWARYA SHAH 

Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams. 

Though some do get more than their share of disappointments, I believe that we have the inner strength to deal with whatever life doles out. It is not the amount of grief or disappointment that comes one’s way, but the manner of dealing with it that shapes a person’s character. And, moreover, I think, those who can take the good and bad, success and failure, victory and disappointment with the same equanimity are the ones who pass the test of life. It is your response to setbacks that set the blueprint for how life treats you for rest of the journey. 

When disappointed with something or someone, how do you react? Do you get angry or depressed? Do you sulk or start a blame game? Or do you withdraw into yourself, discouraged and defeated, to lick your wounds in self-pity? 

Disappointments are inevitable for everyone. Expectations cannot always be met to our satisfaction, nor can all dreams be fulfilled. This is the hard truth of life. People will not always act as we wish them to, nor relationships proceed in the manner we plan. Parents won’t always approve what you have set your heart on; lovers won’t always dole out ardour and compliments; children won’t always aim to please, nor if we allow it to, disappointment could lead to sadness, grumpiness, disillusionment, discouragement or helpless anger. We often tend to vent our spleen on those closest to us, which of course leads to further issues. Most of the caustic, anti-social people we come across, those whom we label ‘frustrated souls’, have been repeatedly disappointed in life and not dealt with it right. Some even develop sour facial features, so deep is the surliness etched into their souls! Surely you do not wish to end up in that category? 

Dee:

I love being an alcoholic in recovery, the “grateful alcoholic” that folks would call themselves that made me cringe in bewilderment.  Today I AM that “grateful alcoholic.

A 28-day treatment program for alcoholism and, more importantly, Alcoholics Anonymous has taught me so much to make a better, lighter, freer life for myself.  Many slogans on the walls of our meeting places and a toolbox for living in the 12 Steps and the Big Book all started to make sense as I trudged the road to happy destiny.

One very important slogan or quote I learned in AA that I carry with me always is “No Expectations.  No disappointments.”  You see, I learned that I have no control over people, places, or things.  I was given the opportunity to “make up” a Power Greater Than Myself over which I could turn my will and my life.  

Today I can trust that this Higher Power has my back and has the control.  And with faith that everything is perfect at this very moment I have no disappointments, just journeys toward learning and growth on a path to make me the best me I can be.

The first step towards dealing with disappointments with maturity is to set realistic expectations. Even while doing so, keep room for disappointment. Do not get into anything expecting disappointment of course—that would be a sure recipe for disaster! But do keep Plan B ready. If your plans or expectations are thwarted, allow yourself time for disappointment; there is nothing wrong in feeling disappointed or disillusioned. Wallow in the emotion for a bit; understand what you are experiencing and what the loss means to you. Just know you have to snap out of it soon and in time you will get over it – whatever it is. 

Dee:

So if your plans or expectations are thwarted, embrace those those incidents..  Thank them for coming.  And then let them go…even blow them a kiss good bye as you send them up to the clouds.  And then move on, knowing that everything happens for a reason, perfectly, and the best is yet to come.  A Power Greater Than Ourselves has plans for us that we can’t even create in our wildest dreams!

This also gives you time and the opportunity to assess the situation and your position. I have spoken about this in my last post on The Uplifting Power Of Perspective, that, Getting a perspective is important. How big will the impact of this disappointment be in your life? How can you minimize the damage? Do you see a silver lining and can you try and make the most of it? 

Dee:

I always try to look at the glass half-full.  Living optimistically helps turn any negative situation into a positive one and always helps get me out of my ego and back in touch with who’s running the show, my Higher Power.  Taking moments throughout our hectic days to recenter is so important to our mental health and emotional well-being.  Remembering that we are NOT in control of people, places, or things is crucial.  Trust and faith helps heaps, too!

So turn it over.  Trust.  Learn.  Know that these situations are uncomfortable and try doing something differently in the future when similar situations arise.  That’s what it’s all about.  Learning.  Growing.  And then sharing with others compassionately and lovingly who are going through similar situations.

Once you accept the situation, it is easier to move away, take an objective view and plan future action. Maybe you can be allowed another chance – assess if you would like to take it or pass it up for something else. Or maybe all doors are firmly closed and you need to look towards something else. That is ok too. Life offers so many options – and gives you several chances to make good your mistakes or disappointments. Take those chances. 

While you have life and health and a positive outlook, you can always move on towards other, different victories. The key is in not letting yourself be dejected, to accept and objectively assess before moving on… 

The size of your success for anything is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way. 

Dee:

Thank you for reading and allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope with you.  So how can we deal with disappointments?  By remembering “No Expectations.  No disappointments.”  Ta Da!!!  Go with the flow, that which life offers you, and know that everything is happening for a reason, perfectly!  It starts to make sense that all situations are sent our way to help us to be the best we can be!  Enjoy the journey…

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in inspirational quotes to get you through your hectic days, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

ECLIPSED WORDS BY AISHWARYA SHAH | JANUARY’2019 | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 

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I AM: THE POWER OF POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS

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

Dee:  This blog was inspired by “I Am:  The Power of Positive Affirmations”                      by Aishwarya Shah. 

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AFFIRMATIONS AND REMINDERS 

I AM: THE POWER OF POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS

NOVEMBER 5, 2018 BY AISHWARYA SHAH 

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. – Buddha 

Let me teach you. 

(Yes. exactly. I will practically teach you through words here, how to use positive affirmations to your benefit. but don’t get me wrong. as Jim Carrey says – affirmations and the law of attraction is just that…you can’t say them or write them down somewhere and go and eat a sandwich and expect the universe to work in your favor miraculously. The work and effort to put into them are just as much important as the oxygen is to your lungs.) 

As you all know I’m a huge believer of affirmations and practicing meditation. 

Today’s topic has been covered by motivational speakers and has become popular over the years. I believe we are currently in a spiritual revolution where increasingly more people are practicing meditation and relaxation. In other words, Eastern medicine is becoming more popular through mainstream media, as we see more of it on television. However, people still don’t know what is meant by the phrase “positive affirmations.” 

Growing up, I for sure know, Indian (and mostly Eastern) parents teach their kids all about the importance of meditation, mantras, and affirmations. 

If you’ve been taught or know about this or believe in this topic, high five! 

The science behind positive affirmations. 

If you think affirmations is solely a spiritual thought or connotation, you’re wrong. The power of positive affirmations has been proved by science as well. 

A research summary in The Indian Journal of Psychiatry addresses the power of positive affirmations, noting specifically that neurotransmitters are affected by affirmations. The brain uses neurotransmitters to communicate information continuously, and affirmations seem to set positive pathways for these brain travelers. 

The research indicates that beliefs are not only thoughts we hold but are actual brain mechanisms mixed with emotions. The input our brain takes in from the environment goes through a filtering process as it all travels across one or more synapses. Eventually, information reaches an area of higher processing, such as the frontal lobes. This is what we think of as conscious awareness. However, the portion of our sensory information reaches these higher levels is to some degree determined by our beliefs. Essentially, we can create a more positive belief system by inputting more positive thoughts. 

A later study, published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, was able to capture the effect of affirmations using an MRI. Participants who gave positive self-affirmations showed increased activity in various parts of the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain. Moreover, participants with greater stimulation in those sections of the brain – which control processing and valuation – exhibited less sedentary behavior afterward than participants who did not provide positive self-affirmations. This research indicates that future behavior, as well as thoughts, can be improved by positive affirmations. 

It’s empowering to realize that even when we feel stuck in our emotions, there is a biochemical potential for positive change and growth. When we repeat a positive intention, we become open to pieces of sensory information that we’d previously been blocking with a negative belief. This becomes a self-reinforcing pattern of thought, belief, behavior. But with positive affirmations, science shows we can change those patterns. 

Dee:

“Loser!”  “You’re a worthless piece of sh*t that is just a waste of space on this planet!”  “You can’t even go one day without drinking!”  “What’s wrong with you?”  That is how I used to talk to myself.  Pretty pitiful, huh?

I, too, am a true believer in positive affirmations and how I have to respect my prefrontal cortex.  When I found myself in a 28-day alcohol recovery treatment center I never thought of positive affirmations nor any part of my brain.  All I knew was that I couldn’t stop drinking no matter how hard nor how many ways I tried.  I knew I wasn’t stupid.  I knew I wasn’t a victim.  I just couldn’t stop.

Today I know that I have the disease of alcoholism and when I put a drink into my body my brain, my prefrontal cortex, which is different than “normal” drinkers, called out for more.  And that’s all I could think about.  That’s all I lived for.  I couldn’t satisfy the craving; I could’t shut my head off.

What Are Positive Affirmations? 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the benefits of positive affirmations, I’d like to explain a little about them. 

An affirmations is really anything you say or think. A lot of what we normally say and think is quite negative and doesn’t create good experiences for us. We have to retrain our thinking and speaking into positive patterns if we want to change our lives. 

An affirmations opens the door. It’s a beginning point on the path to change. In essence, you’re saying to your subconscious mind: “I am taking responsibility. I am aware that there is something I can do to change.” When I talk about doing affirmations, I mean consciously choosing words that will either help eliminate something from your life or help create something new in your life. 

Every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmations. All of our self-talk, our internal dialogue, is a stream of affirmations. You’re using affirmations every moment whether you know it or not. You’re arming and creating your life experiences with every word and thought. 

Your beliefs are merely habitual thinking patterns that you learned as a child. Many of them work very well for you. Other beliefs may be limiting your ability to create the very things you say you want. What you want and what you believe you deserve may be very different. You need to pay attention to your thoughts so that you can begin to eliminate the ones creating experiences you do not want in your life. 

Please realize that every complaint is an affirmations of something you think you don’t want in your life. Every time you get angry, you’re arming that you want more anger in your life. Every time you feel like a victim, you’re arming that you want to continue to feel like a victim. If you feel that Life isn’t giving you what you want in your world, then it’s certain that you will never have the goodies that Life gives to others – that is, until you change the way you think and talk. 

You’re not a bad person for thinking the way you do. You’ve just never learned how to think and talk (about positive affirmations). People throughout the world are just now beginning to learn that our thoughts create our experiences. 

Each time you repeat this statement, you’re rearming the seeds you’ve planted in the atmosphere of your mind. That’s why you want it to be a happy atmosphere. Things grow more quickly in rich, fertile soil. 

When you change your thinking process, then everything in your life will also change. You’ll be amazed and delighted to see how people, places, things, and circumstances can change. Don’t waste time arguing for your limitations: poor relationships, problems, illness, poverty and so on. The more you talk about the problem, the more you anchor it in place. 

Learn to turn your negative affirmations into positive ones. For instance: “I never have enough money” becomes “Money flows into my life in an abundant way.” 

Affirmations are solutions that will replace whatever problem you might have. Whenever you have a problem, repeat over and over: 

“All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe.” 

This simple affirmation will work miracles in your life! 

Dee:

One thing we did every morning in rehab was repeat an affirmation of our choice, everyday, out loud to the group.  Being I’m an alcoholic and more is better, I chose two affirmations, “I am a good person,” and “I am a whole person.”

It seemed like forever since I had felt good or whole (if I ever even did or thought about it), but repeating those two affirmations for 28 days straight started to sink into not only my brain, but the very core of my being.  And to this day I repeat those affirmations daily.  It works! because today I AM a good person and I AM a whole person.  

It just took one day at a time to quit the negative self-talk, work the 12 Steps of AA with a trusted sponsor, do the footwork that was suggested by the fellowship and eventually I learned to love myself for who and what I am.  Simple affirmations will work miracles in your life!  I am living proof!

How to Repeat Affirmations? Choose Affirmations that are not too long. 

Repeat them every time your mind is not engaged in something important, such as while traveling in a bus or a train, waiting in line, walking, etc., but do not arm while driving or crossing a street. You may also repeat them in special sessions of 5-10 minutes each, several times a day. 

Be as relaxed as you can. 

Pay full attention to the words you are repeating. 

Stronger faith in what you are saying, and more desire and feelings bring faster results. 

Preferably, choose positive words with no negative connotations. If you want to lose weight, don’t use words such as, “I am not fat”, or “I am losing weight.” These are negative statements, bringing into the mind mental images of what you do not want. Repeat instead, “I am getting slim”, or “I have my ideal weight”. Such words build positive images in your mind. 

Arm, using the present tense, not the future tense. Saying, “I will be rich”, means that you intend to be rich one day, in the indefinite future, but not now. It is more effective to say, and also feel, “I am rich now”, and the subconscious mind will work at overtime to make this happen now, in the present. 

By stating what you want to be true in your life, you mentally and emotionally see and feel it as true, irrespective of your current circumstances, and thereby attract it into your life. 

However, saying affirmations is only part of the process. What you do the rest of the day and night is even more important. The secret to having your affirmations work quickly and consistently is to prepare an atmosphere for them to grow in. Affirmations are like seeds planted in soil. Poor soil, poor growth. Rich soil, abundant growth. The more you choose to think thoughts that make you feel good, the quicker the affirmations work. 

So think happy thoughts, it’s that simple. And it is doable. The way you choose to think, right now, is just that-a choice. You may not realize it because you’ve thought this way for so long, but it really is a choice. Now . . . today . . . this moment . . . you can choose to change your thinking. Your life won’t turn around overnight, but if you’re consistent and make the choice on a daily basis to think thoughts that make you feel good, you’ll definitely make positive changes in every area of your life. 

Here Is A List Of Positive Affirmations (maybe it’ll help you or get you started)

 – I am healthy and happy.
– Wealth is pouring into my life.
– I am sailing on the river of health.                                                                                                 – I am getting happier each day.
– My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
– I have a lot of energy.
– I study and comprehend fast.
– My mind is calm.
– I am calm and relaxed in every situation.
– My thoughts are under my control.
– I radiate love and happiness.
– I am surrounded by love.
– I have the perfect job for me.
– I have good and loving relations with my wife/husband/(or any person/people close to you)     – I have a wonderful and satisfying business/job.
– I have the means to travel abroad, whenever I want to.
– I am successful in whatever I do.
– Everything is getting better every day. (this one is my personal favorite) 

Dee:

Not only have I learned to let go of negative self-talk, I have learned to trust that everything that happens in my life (no matter how negative I “think” it is), is happening for a positive reason, in a perfect way, to help me to learn and be a better and stronger human being.  If I can stay positive and optimistic I attract more positive and optimistic occurrences into my life.  If I think negatively, that is what I shall attract.  I choose positive today.

What has helped me in this process is having been given the opportunity to make up a Higher Power of My Own Understanding over which I can turn my will and my life.  So with my ego being out of the picture I can now go with the flow and trust that everything in my life, including myself, is being nurtured and protected. 

This peeling away of the onion skin didn’t happen overnight.  But one day at a time, with clarity, I started to think less and feel more.  I was experiencing wonderful things happening in my life which didn’t come from me.  I felt lighter and freer and happier and content.

So slowly rid yourself of the negative self-talk and all other negativity in your life.  Learn to love yourself for the unique gift that you are; there’s no one else on this planet like you.  Share your gifts.  Use affirmations.  They work!

Thank you for being here.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in affirmations, I have created many inspirational quotes and affirmations on mosaics that can help you through any trying day or time in your life.  Please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

by ECLIPSED WORDS BY AISHWARYA SHAH, ASPIRE TO INSPIRE TM 

Regrets of the Dying 

Dee:  This blog was inspired by “Five Regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware.  

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Regrets of the Dying 

by Bronnie Ware 

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. 

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them. 

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five: 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. 

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it. 

Dee:

I am blessed to have not been told I have “x” amount of time to live.  But I try to live as if I have.  I do try to live in the moment striving to have no regrets.  If this were my last day on the planet, I know I have done my best and I cannot think of any unresolved issues nor regrets that need tending to.

Ok, I could update my will and trust, but it actually is “good enough” as they are written.  I could clean up my paper trail, making sure that passwords and accounts are readily available for my loved ones.  I could get rid of a lot of my shit so that my family doesn’t have to encounter the mountains of possessions I’ve accumulated.

But this is more than that.  This is about being true to yourself.  This I did not learn until crawling out of the depths of my addictions.  And when I was given the opportunity for a new life, I ran with it.  This gift was given me by Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps are my toolbox for living a sensible and meaningful life today.

So living a life true to myself is a fabulous blessing.  By working the Steps with a trusted sponsor I found how fear-based I was living.  I was trying to live the life I thought others expected of me.  I was more concerned about getting your approval than my own self-worth and self-love as I wasn’t aware of what that was.

As I peeled away the layers of the onion skin eventually revealing the real me and learned to accept and love the real me, everything changed.  Everything got easier, lighter, freer.  I found happiness and contentment.  I found purpose.  I found compassion and empathy.  I found ME!

Yes, I still do for you today but not because I need your approval to validate myself.  I do it because I want to and it gives my heart joy.  And today I get to be the person I was meant to be, allowing the inner child to play and run free.  I get to be the responsible me, making sure commitments are being fulfilled and doing my best to help others and the planet.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. 

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle. 

Dee:

For as long as I can remember I heard and learned how important it is to have more, and to do whatever it takes to get more.  So if that means sacrificing relationships, so be it.  If that means no date nights with your mate, oh well.  If that means missing your kids’ special events, there will be others.  If that means putting yourself at the bottom of the list, someday you will take care of yourself.

Does more money, more power, more stuff, serve us?  Hell, no.  We learn as we age that less is better, not more.  Finding peace and contentment with the simplest of needs frees us to enjoy what is really important…life itself and the relationships we were meant to have with each other and this wonderful planet on which we live.  So not being a slave to expensive, non-meaningful possessions is what we should be striving toward.  Basic needs, yes.  Comparing yourself to the Joneses, no.  Feel comfortable enough in your own skin to know, feel, what is best for you.  And if/when you can, find work that you’re passionate about…that fills your soul!

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.                                                            

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. 

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win. 

Dee:

Again, being true to yourself, loving yourself, valuing yourself, is key here.  That is where we need to start.  And, again, for me that came from staying active in a very strong support group of AA and using the tools they so freely offered.

There are many places to find support…your church, your doctor, your friends, your family (please, not your bartender), and a wealth of support groups to fit your needs.  Use them.  You never have to be alone to struggle through life.  They can teach you how to kindly express your feelings, stop walking on egg shells, be true to yourself.  

I learned that living from my heart and not my head (which rationalized any- and everything detrimental to my greatest good), was the way to go for me.  I learned that trusting in a Higher Power of My Own Understanding and turning my will and life over to the care of that Power Greater Than Myself, was freeing and took the burdens of life off my shoulders.  I learned that I have no control over people, places, or things, so go with the flow and just take care of my side of the street (so to say).

Getting rid of negative thoughts and feelings (resentments) is crucial to this process.  And learning how your part (if any) in these situations blew them out of proportion is vital to their resolve.  Fear-based?  Ego?  Selfishness?  Let it go.  It doesn’t serve you.  Be true to yourself and love yourself for who and what you are.  Be comfortable in your own skin.  And then you can comfortably speak your mind with grace and love.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. 

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships. 

Dee:

Although I am not an avid supporter of social media, it has made keeping in touch much easier.  I have found long-lost friends on the internet.  Today we have relationships more priceless than we had when the memories that were conjured up in my brain even occurred.

When thoughts of long-lost friends arise, follow through on them.  There are no coincidences.  These thoughts arise for a reason.  Honor them.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. 

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. 

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness. 

Dee:

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Release your inner child.  That beautiful, uninhibited YOU that you were meant to be.  Laugh.  Be silly.  Have fun.  Don’t worry about what others will think about you because “they” usually don’t give a shit anyhow.  They are too wrapped up in their own lives and egos to care.  Let them be on their own journeys.  Love them.  Accept them.  But don’t seek their approval.  Seek your own!  Be happy, joyous and free! and live a life that serves YOU as if today were the last day of your life!

Thank you all for reading and being part of my story.  With warmest aloha and best wishes for a wonderful New Year and New Life, Dee Harris

I use affirmations to keep me on track when the busyness of life takes me away from the moment in front of my nose.  They help recenter me.  If you’re interested in inspiring, even funny, affirmations, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Note: This excellent article is mirrored from the original posted at Bronnie Ware’s website. “Based on this article, Bronnie has now released a full length book titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying – A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. It is a memoir of her own life and how it was transformed through the regrets of the dying people she cared for. This inspiring book is available internationally through Hay House.” 

Copyright Bronnie Ware. 

http://www.hospicepatients.org/five-regrets-of-the-dying-bronnie-ware.html 

Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk 

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center’s                                                       “Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk”

Dee Grinch 12:7:18

Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk 

By Sara Schairer 

The holidays are here, and they bring with them an abundance of twinkle lights, parties, cookies, and joy. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? 

Yes. For some lucky people. 

Perhaps this line from the Dr. Seuss’ book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is a more accurate depiction of how you feel about Christmas: “Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate. Double Hate. LOATHE ENTIRELY!”  The Grinch’s comments refer to his feelings for the Whos, and it quite accurately describes his feeling about the holidays. 

Do you have an inner-Grinch who comes out this time of year? 

Despite the festivities, the holidays bring sadness for many. Feelings of grief and loneliness may rise to the surface. For me, this time of year reminds me of the loss I’ve experienced over the years. I miss my deceased father every holiday season, and I feel sadness about my failed marriage. 

Dee:

A bit of sadness surfaces for me as well as our home is no longer filled with excited-for-Christmas children.  But I still hang lights inside and outside the house.  I put up a small  tree for my husband and me.  I hang stockings.  I send out Christmas cards with a short year-in-brief note.  I bake cookies.  

I do this for ME!  It gives my heart joy.  No sadness necessary for wonderful past memories.  I must stay in the moment and be grateful for them and this moment present in front of my nose.  I lack for nothing.  I am grateful.  I am humble.

But you don’t have to stay stuck in sadness during the holiday sadness. Here are some simple tips to help you stay less Grinch-y and more positive this holiday season. 

1. Self-Compassion 

Self-compassion meditations and simple practices can help you gracefully navigate sadness and grief. By remembering the three main pillars of self-compassion (mindfulness, common humanity, self-kindness), you can stay attuned to your suffering with more grace and ease. 

Dee:

For me self-compassion and meditations both bring me back to this present moment.  In this present moment I don’t have to pick up a drink or drug.  That wasn’t always the case.  I would be hanging up Christmas lights in a snow storm on a metal ladder.  Year after year.  Stupid.  Drunk.  I would bake cookies, wrap gifts and decorate the inside of the house to all hours of the night.  Year after year.  Drunk.  High.  I would black out and then pass out while opening gifts.  Sick.  Sad.

No more.  Today I have a choice to not pick up a drink or a drug.  For that and Alcoholics Anonymous I am truly grateful and truly humble.  I can practice self-compassion and love myself for who and what I am…today…one day at a time.

2. Gratitude 

Research indicates that a daily or weekly gratitude practice enhances overall well-being, and a simple gratitude practice can take just five minutes or less of your time each day. 

At the end of the day, write down three things for which you are grateful. Instead of the normal responses like my health and family, ratchet up the practice by looking back on your day and picking out specific highlights. For example, you could write, “I am grateful for the lunch and laughs I shared with my co-workers. We ate outside and enjoyed the crisp air and sunshine.” 

Dee:

I start my day and end my day in bed, duh.  Before getting out of bed to face the day I turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God, a God of My Own Understanding to whom I was introduced working the 12 Steps of AA.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not promoting AA.  I am promoting YOU and your well-being.  There are many support groups in your neck of the woods that can help walk you through whatever ails you.  AA was introduced to me in rehab and they loved me until I could love myself.  Find your tribe!

Before falling asleep I again deeply connect with my Higher Power so thankful for his driving me around throughout the day while I enjoyed the passenger seat.  I got to meet new people, experience new adventures, all without having to be in control or affect the outcome.  Everything turned out perfectly!

3. Cultivate Joy 

The human brain focuses on the negative, which means you need to intentionally cultivate more positivity in your life. It’s referred to as the brain’s negativity bias and research suggests that you need a three-to-one ratio of positive feelings to negative feelings in order to flourish. 

Dee:

It seems like the older I get the harder it is to muster up any energy.  So when I do scoop up a pile or two of energy, I choose to use it in a positive way.  I remember how exhausting it was to live a life in active alcoholism, having to drink everyday, but more exhausting was the guilt, shame, hiding, lying and cheating.  That negative shit took all the energy I had and I had nothing left for me, let alone joy.

One way to add more positivity is through self-affirmation. Take time each day to think of things you appreciate about yourself. A gratitude practice also infuses your day with positivity. 

Dee:

One thing we did in rehab was to make up an affirmation and recite it to the group every morning for 28 days.  I chose, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole.  I was a piece of shit wasting space on the planet with no purpose.

But reciting this affirmation has helped me tremendously to get back in the moment, to remember where I am today and how I got here.  As I peeled the layers of the onion skin off of myself I realized that I do, indeed, have a purpose.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my Dee Bubble.  Those who are going through tough times, whether from addictions, abuses, or just too much on their plates.

Today I am able to use my tough times to help me stay grounded, grateful and humble.  I needed those tough times to bring me to this calmness and lightness in my life.  So I share with you that you are not alone on your journey.  And that everything is perfect right now.  Just go in faith and not fear.  Live from your heart and not your head.

4. Minimize Social Media Consumption 

If you’re regularly (obsessively?) checking your Facebook and Instagram feeds, try to bring awareness to how you’re feeling. Do you notice sadness, uneasiness, or any tightness? Your mind might be comparing your life to the lives you see online. Since most people only highlight their best moments on social media, you are most likely not getting the full picture of someone’s life. Comparing your normal, flawed life to one that appears to be perfect is a recipe for sadness. 

Try putting your phone down more often and staying off of social media. Notice if any of your feelings shift. 

Dee:

I use social media mostly to promote my business.  But getting on Facebook or Instagram draws me in to life outside my Bubble.  I experience everyone’s journeys and get to be a part of.  I get joy from these long-distance interactions.

I no longer need to compare my journey with yours as I know now that we are all alike with both good times and hard times.  I finally feel good enough in my own skin that I don’t need to impress you.  I have my own gifts as you have yours.  And sharing our gifts with one another makes the world a better place.

5. Find a Holiday Accountability Buddy 

Do you know someone else who has experienced loss or has a tough time during the holidays? If so, reach out to that person and see if you can lean on each other every day. Send this person a quick text once a day to check in, and he or she can do the same for you. 

You might want to use this accountability as a way to start or enhance your daily gratitude practice. 

Dee:

In AA it was suggested I get a sponsor, someone I trust, with whom I can share my journey and who could walk me through the 12 Steps of AA.  So I did and she has helped me to grow in ways far beyond my wildest dreams.  She is my accountability buddy, not just during the holidays, but everyday!

And when she is unavailable I have the fellowship of AA to nurture, protect and teach me.  I am never alone, nor are YOU!  Find like-minded people for your tribe to help you through the holidays and to enrich your life.

6. Take Deep Breaths 

If a formal meditation practice isn’t your style, you can experiment with a brief breathing practice to help you bring awareness to the moment and calm yourself. Research shows that by taking a big, slow, deep inhale, and then exhaling slowly, you can calm your body’s response to stress. 

Dee:

We all experience holding our breath in that fight or flight situation.  But why am I not taking deep breaths in calm situations?  If you’re like me it takes getting back in the moment, knowing we are being cared for and protected, getting out of self that brings by breathing back into a healthy rhythm.  It takes practice but I hope someday to breathe deeply naturally.

7. Practice Generosity 

While it is said that, “it is better to give than to receive,” you might not feel this around the holidays. The added expenses, packed stores, and overall stress that comes with holiday gift-giving might make you feel like giving is not the best way to get out of your Grinch-y attitude. 

True, heartfelt generosity doesn’t equate to stress, however. You can be generous with your time, your hugs, your smile, and your listening ear. If you do have extra funds, you can support nonprofits who might rely on end-of- year giving to support their work. 

Dee:

I learned early on in my recovery that unless I give it back, I won’t keep it.  And I found that to be true when I got complacent in my sobriety, stopped going to meetings, stopped AA altogether and found my defects of character, my old sick way of being and doing and thinking come back…one day at a time.  And then I drank.

I cannot afford to let down my guard.  My disease of alcoholism deserves the respect I give to the ocean.  I am careful.  I don’t turn my back on it.  I must take nothing for granted.

So I give back.  This time of year especially and year-round as well I give my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration to local fundraisers, especially to AA.  I give a portion of my earnings all year-round to our local AA, which gets doled out to the district, the area, and the world.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep it.  Today my life is good.  I want to keep it that way!

8. Volunteer 

Speaking of nonprofits, many of them can use an extra hand during the holidays. The need for many services may increases during the winter months. Find a nonprofit in your community that needs help and spend some time serving your community. 

Because of your compassionate feelings, you just might feel a boost. 

Dee:

One volunteer commitment that is sure to give me that boost is speaking once or twice a month at our local DUI classes.  I do this not as community service but as a service to my community.  My hope is that one person will leave the class feeling hopeful and optimistic by hearing my experience, strength and hope.  Hopefully, I can change a life for the better.

And with the holidays just around the corner, what a hard time to try to get and stay clean and sober.  So I’ve volunteered to lead one of the 24-Hour Alkathons that the newcomer or person struggling can attend non-stop from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

These volunteer commitments get me out of self.  They help to remind me where I’ve come from and how good it is today.  They help me to not drink one day at a time and to give back what was so freely given me when I needed it most – compassion.

Thank you for being here and I hope I was able to offer you some hope and optimism.  Wishing you the happiest of holidays and, if you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone.  Help is just a phone call away.

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those looking for Gifts with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Try out some of these techniques and send your inner Grinch into hibernation this winter. 

Learn a natural, effortless style of meditation that helps invite renewal and freshness into every day with Basics of Meditation, a self-paced online course guided by Deepak Chopra.

About the Author 

Sara Schairer (/bios/sara-schairer) 

Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT (http://compassionit.com/), a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband (http://compassionit.com/wristbands/) prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 48 countries, and all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens, and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives. A Stanford-certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation… Read more (/bios/sara-schairer) 

The Chopra Center

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!

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)  

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