~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other morning I awoke with a sore throat. That’s always a sure sign of a cold for me. I almost felt disappointed in myself as I asked, “What’s wrong with me?” At that moment, I thought of my favorite Wayne Dyer quote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I knew I had to change my thinking. I had to ask myself, “What’s right with me?”
The idea about “What’s right” rather than “What’s wrong” was first introduced to me 7 years ago by my Yoga teacher, Suzanne. We would be lying down on the Yoga mat breathing and relaxing just before starting our practice. She’d have us mentally go through our body and find where any pain was located. Next she would tell us to acknowledge the pain and thank it. Then she would tell us to find what is right in our bodies and thank that part of your body…thank your toes, your arms, your legs and your head…etc. You would realize that the pain was taking up a very little space in your body and you actually had much more right than not.
We have all asked that question, “What’s wrong with me?”
While you can’t ignore pain or sorrows, just remember that difficulties make us appreciate the positive more. We often grow through adversity. So acknowledge that and then focus on how much is right in your world rather than what is wrong. Do you have electricity? Do you have a grocery store nearby? Do you the right clothes for the right weather? If you answer yes to these and similar questions and then you have abundance! This type of thinking is the basis for a new type of psychology called Positive Psychology.
What is Positive Psychology? “Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.” (http://www.ppc.sas.upenn.edu) Sounds right to me!
Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology sees life as “using your signature strengths every day to produce authentic happiness and abundant gratification.”
What can you do to concentrate on what’s right with you?
• When you wake up in the morning, don’t focus on your aches or pains, focus on the many, many parts of the body that are feeling good!
• Be engaged in something you love at least once a day. If you have a passion you can lose yourself in what in you love!
• Surround yourself with positive people who love or support you unconditionally.
• I believe that this habit of “What’s right with you” is a very important one to teach to your children. Here’s one thing you can do: play a dinner game with your family where you each tell what happened right in your day.
• Practice mindfulness. I do this often in my garden. I love to see the little buds on the plants, the different stages of flowers, the small insects in the garden, the smell of dirt and the color of everything in nature. I also practice mindfulness when I eat slowly and really taste my food. Mindfulness, for me, always leads to gratitude.
• Practice Gratitude – gratitude is thankfulness taken to the next level. Every day remind yourself of how lucky you are. Gratitude can be affirmations like “I’m grateful for…” It can be the simple, but essential things like breathing, running water and a roof over my head or thoughts of family and friends and a job.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly—you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you.”
What you think about expands. Shift your attention away from what’s wrong and concentrate on what’s right. Try it for a day and you’ll adopt this attitude for a lifetime!
What to hear more? Watch this 23 minute TED video with Martin Seligman calle “The New Era of Positive Psychology”.
If you live near Denver (or even if you don’t!), I’d like to invite you to a workshop I’m giving with Tricia Gast of Body Talk. We’ll be teaching about releasing negative emotions like stress, worry, angry from the body, becoming a Peaceful Parent, finding your passion and becoming a positive thinker. We’ll be laughing a lot, practicing Yoga and giving you some practical tips on integrating all of this into your life right away. The workshop will take place June 28th from 8:00 to 12:00 in Littleton, Colorado with lots of heathy snacks included! The cost… you decide… that’s right! It’s based on the Buddhist principle called “Dana”: giving what you feel the program is worth. If you’re interested please email me at thezenmama (at) gmail.com and I’ll send you more information.
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