As humans, we find that some days are more challenging than others. If you look back through history, most people have faced challenges or struggles. You are measured by how you react to the struggles, not the struggles you face. If you look at how the media shows “underdogs” they focus on the “underdogs” who react negatively. We hear about “underdogs” who steal mascots from rival schools, we hear about “underdogs” who mutilate their cheating spouses, and we hear about “underdogs” who attack in road rage incidents. When will we hear about “underdogs” who politely wave as the aggressive driver cuts them off? The spouse who picks up the pieces, moves out, meets a new spouse, and lives a fairytale life? The “underdog” team that looks at what they can change in their offense and defense strategies to overcome the loss or that embraces their achievement to reach the pinnacle position and come in second?
As a society, we feed off the negativity around us. That exposure, that negative source, puts negative pathways in our brains. Our brain is so powerful; it files those negative pathways, and it carves them out so you can return to them. The more those pathways are fed with negativity, the more powerful and carve out -“traveled”- they become. Before you know it, you crave that kind of negative stimulation. You phone a friend daily to discuss the “terrible” things in your life, you share the stories on your social media sites about your life or those stories in the media, and you talk about the terrible stories whenever you can. When something bad happens to you, you share the story over and over reliving it each time creating more negativity. I can tell you from experience that overwriting those negative pathways is not as easy as deleting a sentence in a word document and rewriting a new one, but it is possible! It is possible to train your brain to find and develop positive pathways and to embrace simplicity in your life. Here are a few steps:
Here are a few steps to help you Simplify & Embrace:
- Reduce your exposure to negativity. Stop watching the news. Stop clicking on negative stories in your social media feeds or unfollow the contributors altogether. Stop talking about adverse situations with people.
- Focus on positive aspects of your life. Grab a notepad. Just before bed, or right when you get up, write down five things in your life for which you are grateful They can be the same each day or you can start a running list. Soon you will notice that you are looking for things to add to your list, thereby looking for things to be grateful for and focusing on the positive aspects of your life.
- Get more sleep. We have started utilizing a great app for our iPhone called Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. It allows you to drift off to a soothing noise and allows you to program a soothing alarm, set between a ½ hour, to wake you when you are most awake. I suggest you check it out!
- Eat balanced meals with brain powering foods. We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat!” That is so true! When you eat nutrient deficient foods and feed your brain junk, you think junky. When you eat energizing foods that are nutrient dense you feel energized. Here are a couple of examples of quick energy boosters. Chia Refresher – take 16 oz. of water, 1 T of chia seeds and juice/half of a lemon and mix in a glass jar (we use a mason jar so we can shake it) let sit a few minutes then drink. The antioxidants from the chia provide an energizing boost. Green Tea: Brew a fresh hot cup or brew a pot of tea and chill for iced tea. The tea has antioxidants that help boost energy and the warmth or coolness of the drink can increase your positivity (if you are cold, a warm tea can warm you up and if you are hot, an iced tea can calm you down). Chocolate Bar – Eat a quick serving from your favorite vegan chocolate bar (mine are Endangered Species). Chocolate provides a natural pick me up.
- Listen to positivity. Listen to and watch positive, uplifting YouTube videos, CDS, audiobooks, and TV shows. Expose yourself to people who empower you to be your most confident self. You are like the five people you hang around. If you can’t hang around the people who most inspire you, spend time listening to them.
- Read. Find empowering blogs, books, articles, etc. to read and follow. Similar to #5. Spend time being exposed to those people and media that lift you up. ( I will have a future post with my favorite books and blogs).
- Write. Grab a notebook – I use a composition notebook because it is durable and easy to store and carry in my bag. Write down quotes, feelings, images, etc. that inspire you. When you are at work, and someone says something that brightens your day, jot it down! When you are watching a video or TV show, and you get a positive feeling from something said, write it down. By writing down your positive experiences, you are forced to focus on them, and this helps to overwrite negative brain pathways (you can use this same notebook for your grateful list).
- Embrace yourself. We all see flaws in ourselves, but I encourage you to embrace yourself, your whole body, mind, and self. Be true to who you are what you want. Listen to yourself. Spend time focusing on the things in your life that make you truly happy. The things that bring out your best you. Love the parts of yourself that make you unique. It is part of our nature to compare ourselves with others, but when you stop doing that and embrace who you are, you release those negative pathways that create fear, doubt, and negative self-thoughts and begin to develop new channels that encompass you.
- Love. Love with all your heart. Love people who cut you off when you are driving, love customers who yell at you on the phone, love angry parents who are upset at their child for causing trouble at school but take it out on you, like your friend who calls you and complains, love the people on your Facebook. Send love their way as they are showing you that they need it.
- Reduce fear. Fear is a real feeling; however, it is up to you to combat it. Everyone has fear. I found that by reducing negative thoughts, I reduced my fear. I am no longer afraid of failing because I stopped focusing on failing. I have always heard from people with kids that “their children are fearless.” Have you ever stopped to think about that for a moment? Children are fearless because they don’t have a pathway to tell them to be afraid. They don’t have negative thoughts from experiences or exposure. What exposure and experiences can you implement in your life to retrain your brain to reduce your fear?
- Simplify. I recently read an article shared on Facebook about what people need. It said people need love, healthy food, positive experiences, and being outside. It said the things people need are inexpensive. We spend much of our time focusing on the big house, fancy cars, fancy shoes, watches, purses and we miss the experiences. I encourage you to simplify. I am working on another post to show how I have simplified some areas in my life. Stay tuned.
I hope this post encourages you to “stop and smell the roses.” To reduce the negative pathways that are carved out in your brain and to focus on and embrace your best self!