I was talking to a therapist about the fact that it seems like I am surrounded with negativity. (I am taking grief therapy following the passing of my Mother because I don't want to miss the experience of feeling sad out of an avoidance of feeling sad. I think it is important to mourn and grieve over the passing of someone you love so closely.) Everything from my aging father, a country that is at war with itself over hot trigger issues and the constant flood of media splashing bad news at you, it seems you can't escape it.
We decided that in life there is always a balance and that if you don't have things to offset the negative it will bring you lots of unhappiness.
It is true, isn't it?
I talked about this in the book "Boredom to Brilliance" and yet even knowing it sometimes doesn't help if you don't take action to realize it.
Choosing Your Environment
It is all about environment. It is about freedom to choose your environment and sometimes changing your environment can go against what others seem to want you to do.
If you are standing in mud you have a choice, either keep standing in it or get out of it. It really comes down to that. Because walking around in mud can become your normal and you wonder why your shoes are always dirty and think that life must be unfair. It is a strange analogy I know, but that is what happens in life.
We get so used to the negativity, to the language of it that it begins to permeate everything we think and do and we never get out of it. No wonder people are so upset these days. They live in the mud.
Balance means to get out of the mud of life.
So how do we change our life? We change our environment. We move out of the mud and onto the clean fresh grass.
The things we do determine our mentality so the answer is going to be doing things that give you positivity to outweigh the negativity in life. Clearly, a mind constantly bombarded with negativity is going to become negative.
So, we have to spend time, a lot of time doing things that positively affect us.
Write a list of 20 things that lift you up.
The therapist had me write a list of 20 things that lift me up. It is a good practice and what it showed me is that I am doing almost nothing right now in my life that lifts me up. No wonder I feel like my life is steeped in negativity, I am doing nothing but walking in the mud.
So what exactly does this mean?
Sensory Experience Exposure
I've long said that if you can control the quarter of an inch in front of your mouth that you can control your life.
First there is the simple point about diet. If you can control what goes into your mouth, which is only an act of controlling the inch in front of it, like a guard at a gate, then you can achieve any diet. Or, if you can control what you say then your life becomes better. How you breathe can lead to meditation and mental peace. So that inch in front of your mouth affects a lot of your life's daily activities.
But, like the mouth, we have other sensory organs that we can govern which can have a huge affect on our lives.
What we see affects us. What we hear affects us. What we touch and feel affects us. What we smell affects us.
Our senses are what provides our brains with data about our environment. Our minds translate that data into meaning and in turn has an effect on our emotions which is the real source of well being or misery in our lives.
If we do the things that are on our list that lift us up, then that creates an environment of positive information for our well being. So, the doing of life means to spend quality and quantity time doing the things that lift you up, and not because it is selfish to do so, but because you are the only one who can give you that gift.
It is everyone's responsibility to take care of themselves first.
In our Judeo-Christian morality based society we have been taught to do things for others in a spirit of giving. That your own needs are secondary, "To the needs of the many" to coin a Star Trek mantra.
The problem is that this gives us the idea that we can fix others, and the truth is we can't. Nobody can fix me, I can only fix myself.
Like the Airlines teach us to first put on your oxygen mask before helping others is important, it is also an important life concept. If you aren't a strong, happy and capable person then what good is it for you to take your sick disposition to others no matter how good the intention. You are contaminating the environment of others if you bring a diseased negativity with you. The truth is, so many do this everyday as if they believe they are doing the world a favor by "telling us like it is."
Take time to do what lifts you up.
When you are young playing is a big part of your life. But when we get older it seems like play is not a grown up behavior. You have to be responsible first and then you can play. It is the old "Delayed Gratification" method of living. I am not suggesting you be irresponsible, but that you can bring a lot more to the table if you are an energized and inspired person.
Going dancing, playing a sport, reading a book, playing music or going for a hike in the woods all take time. It is easy to think that if you haven't taken care of all of your responsibilities you have no right to do things like that, but it isn't true.
This isn't about money or career or morality. This is the prime responsibility you have to yourself which is to be happy and feel good and you won't if you continue to not take the time doing things that lift you up.
The Clock is Ticking and Someday It Will Be too Late.
I give a "Live Concert Report" assignment in my Music Appreciation class which requires them to attend a live classical music concert once during the semester. I give the assignment on the first day and every day of class thereafter. But, students have a tendency to want to procrastinate and go "next week."
Guess what? Next week may not come.
I explain to them that for everything they want to do in life there is a deadline and that deadline is a lot sooner than you think. Life has a way of lobbing misfortune at you before you are ready for it.
I tell them that the longer you wait to do it the more the pressure will grow and suddenly you break a leg, a family member gets ill or something else preempts you doing it. Then, getting that assignment done becomes suddenly impossible and now there is no way to get a B, let alone an A in the class, because this report is 20% of your grade.
It is a life lesson and it is a lesson better learned sooner than later.
Don't Wait to Spend Time Doing the Things that Lift You UP!
Someday soon, it will be too late and your life will have been spent in the mud of negativity.