Even the most upbeat folks endure times when they struggle to maintain positive vibes. A friend who I admire greatly and who wants to be positive but is managing all kinds of heavy, meaningful burdens right now, recently invited practical suggestions. What average, daily rituals can a person adopt to stay afloat?
Maintaining positive vibes in a negative world is a universal challenge, although it can often feel like we are all alone in the struggle. Here are my thoughts:
- “Neck-Up Check-Up” I once saw this phrase while subbing in a Kindergarten classroom. It was posted above a small mirror, where only the teacher (a woman I love and look up to still) could have seen it. I interpreted the phrase to be just a quick and easy reminder to think about how you look. Your facial expression. The softness (or hardness) in your eyes. How clean are your teeth? Do you need to touch up some makeup? Tidy up your hair? Or just relax and smile? Whatever appearance means to you, tend to it for a minute. And not just for vanity reasons. Lots of times the way you look from the neck up speaks volumes about how you are moving through the world. Personal vibes are both contagious and visible. They also tend to circle right back to you.
- Limit Your Exposure To the internet (you know what poisons you), to toxic people, to abrasive music, to chemical smells, to electronics, etcetera. Just scan your spirit and mind and body for whatever could be fraying your nerves unnecessarily. Step away. Make some space for your well being. I’m not saying this will erase your actual problems, but why cope with them in a compromised state? Cleanse yourself a little, and smooth out the rough edges. Manage what is eroding your strength so you can focus on the bigger stuff.
- Fresh Air & Endorphins You guys know my favorite way to feel better is to go for a good, sweaty, happy run (it’s magic for sure). But I also reap so much peace and joy just from walking around the farm and playing with the dogs, brushing the horses, piddling around the gardens. Even just twenty or thirty minutes outdoors works wonders for me. I quickly regain that deep sense of calm, even if a very real-life problem has arisen.
Do whatever you can do to get outside, no matter the weather and no matter where you live. Soak it up consciously. Take a senses inventory if you have time. Move your blood, breathe deeply, and hydrate while you’re at it. It’s all basically free energy. And friends, carefully consider whether you spend that time sorting through the problem or recharging yourself. Every situation needs something different.
- Count Your Blessings. Active gratitude is powerful! Sometimes even bad situations are still so freaking lucky, it’s crazy! When your anxiety cranks up, take a beat. Register loud and clear within your brain how lucky you are, that whatever you’re upset about really could be much worse (almost always true in my life, which is filled with close calls, near misses, and silver linings). Or, think about something else entirely. Refocus just long enough to remind yourself that “The Awful or Annoying Thing” is not everything in life. Magnify what is going really truly right and let it swell and grow. Let it begin to take over the landscape of your thoughts and emotions. Start listing stuff that thrills you, stuff for which you are crazy thankful.
I have a rule for myself: For every single thing about which I want to complain, I have to name five other things that are good. This argument of light over dark happens silently in my own head, and it always works to combat that irritable, downward spiral, gloomy vibe. It’s so easy. Also? The ratio of good to bad is always way better than 5:1. Because life is beautiful and amazing. This rule just gets me going in the right direction.
- Focus on Someone Else. My Grandma Ina Lynne was known for her positivity and generosity of spirit. She often shared her philosophy, that as soon as you begin to feel sorry for yourself, think of someone else who has it worse. And extend yourself to them. Help someone else with a problem to escape your pity party. (That’s all paraphrased, of course…xoxo)
I know that not all of our life stress is rooted in self-pity. But lots of our paralyzing suffering is, if we are being honest. We can choose to step away from that and pour our physical and spiritual energy into lifting up someone else and, magically, it tends to lift us too. Plus we gain that perspective (once again) of how much worse things could be.
Hopefully, friends, some of this resonates with you. What practical advice would you share for maintaining positive vibes?
I wish you the BEST this weekend has to offer!! Change is in the air, both the weather and the spirit behind it all. I’m excited. : )
Seize the Day