Some things in our society can contribute to the stresses of our everyday lives and occasionally leave us stuck with some residual negativity. Traffic, deadlines and even some people that we encounter can make us sometimes feel as if living a more positive life is out of our control.
Becoming more mindful of what type of information we are allowing ourselves to take in can be a key step in directing our focus toward a more uplifting existence.
Here are some subtle things you can do today to help filter out a little bit of the negative energy that we receive on a daily basis.
1. Modify what is seen on your Facebook feed.
Do you have a friend or family member that is constantly complaining about everything or who’s only posts are passive aggressive attempts at gaining attention or affection? Seeing this continuous feed of negative vibes everyday can have a subtle but huge impact on your own outlook. Change what updates you get from these people by hovering your mouse over the little arrow in the upper right hand corner of their status update and choose “I don’t want to see this” or “Hide all posts from Negative Nancy”. This will allow you to still remain Facebook friends with them but not view their daily rants about how Starbucks never remembers their coffee order. The status updates of your Facebook friends is called a ‘News Feed’ because it is literally the news about what is happening in your own personal circle. Sometimes when we don’t like what we are watching, we just need to change the channel to something a little more interesting and uplifting. Try 'Liking' the Facebook pages of influential people or organizations for a change of scenery.
2. Stop watching or limit the time you spend watching the news.
Speaking of news feeds, stop watching the news! Okay, okay. We do need to stay updated on some things that are happening in the world, but we also need to learn how to take what we need from this source without allowing it to affect our energy. Here is an experiment: For five nights (or mornings depending on your schedule), keep a pen and paper handy when you watch the news every day. Make four columns and label them “Somewhat Negative”, “Negative”, “Somewhat Positive” and “Positive”. Now as you watch the news, pay attention to not only the content of the stories but the undertones of the reporters as well. Make a tick on the paper for each news story during the broadcast to record the type of subtle information your brain is consuming. At the end of the five days, tally up the totals. The results may shock you. The daily news can be a source of valuable information to keep us updated on current events and important stories but it can also be creating a negative environment in our brains.
3. Start receiving good ‘junk’ mail.
It’s true, junk mail can get annoying especially if it is mixed in with a pile of bills but if it is the right kind of mail, it can also be gentle inspirational reminders and motivators about what is important to us. Start to sign up for brochures from your dream resorts or retreat destinations, subscribe to magazines such as Yoga Journal, Origins or Tricycle, and sign up for catalogs from your favorite yoga or meditation products. Seeing occasional pieces of mail that pertain to our passions can potentially help to balance out some of the negative vibes that come from the mailbox.
4. Go for a walk.
In a technologically connected world that is always on the go, it is easy to get caught up in the fast pace that we now call 'life'. This fast pace can potentially activate our sympathetic nervous system over time and gradually stress our bodies leaving us in a constant state of "fight or flight"; always on the ready and anticipating a stressful situation around every corner. Remaining in this state of stress can have a number of negative effects on our bodies including mood swings and negative thoughts. A great way to calm the nervous system down and regain some positive thinking is to put our devices down and get outside. Breathing oxygen rich air deep into the lungs can have an almost immediate effect on the central nervous system bringing us into a more peaceful and positive state. Just 20 minutes of walking around the block and taking in some natural surroundings can do the trick. It is important to cultivate an awareness within ourselves to notice when we are overloaded and need to disconnect in order to bring a balance to the overly stimulated world we live in.
5. Tune in to what you're really tuning in to on the radio.
While some talk radio stations may seem to keep us distracted from the burdens of traffic while we are on our morning commute, it may also be subtly filling our minds with negativity. Be mindful of too many heavy topics or sarcastic opinions that resonate emotionally within us during the start of your morning as this could potentially set the tone for your entire day. Try switching the station to some light jazz or classical music to help your mind stay calm while you drive.
Don't get caught up in the stigma of the word, it's simpler than it sounds! Sitting in stillness for even just a couple minutes a day can have a profound positive impact on our overall wellbeing. Heres how: find a comfortable seat somewhere either on the floor or in a comfortable chair and away from distraction. Sit up straight (if sitting on the floor, try using a cushion or yoga block under your seat to raise the hips higher than the knees which will take some pressure off the lower back and help you sit a little taller), begin to breathe through your nose, inhaling for a count of four and exhaling for the same count of four. As thoughts arise in your mind, good or bad, just watch them pass by. Meditation isn't about clearing the mind of thoughts, it is about acknowledging the thoughts that do arise without judgment and letting them go. Start doing this for five minutes a day morning or night and see how you feel at the end of a week.
Cultivating positive practices in our daily routines will help us feel more relaxed, energized, and leave us open to living the positive life we desire.