Positive Beliefs: Life is a Wonderful Adventure

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When you allow more positive beliefs to your life and reduce the limiting beliefs to your life, your daily experience will not be the same, ever.

Yesterday as I listened the Awaken the Giant Within abridged edition (to my disappointment). I did pick up quite a few useful thoughts from there. Mainly there was this idea about beliefs as tables and then there are these stories that either give the table more legs or take them away.

With limiting beliefs, we ought to question them and take some legs away.

With positive beliefs, we ought to strengthen them and add more legs to the table (reasons to believe). The stronger the references, the stronger we will believe them.

Positive beliefs allow us to live more fully, we are not limited by the unseen any longer. We allow us to be something we can be.

It’s an incredible realization to see that what you believe supports your reality. I am suggesting you to become a bit positive lunatic, not completely though.

Optimism is in itself about having positive illusions about life. This makes life worth living, even if this is partially true. Optimism in itself can be dangerous too as I’ve written before.

Martin Seligman, one of the founders of the positive psychology field and also a person who has developed something he calls “learned optimism” – which can be helped to cure people who have what he calls ‘learned helplessness’. It’s very interesting concept, where he also warns of the dangers.

Stock market crashes and too overly optimism is not a good thing. Then our decisions are not based on the reality at all, but to our illusions.

With the positive beliefs, I believe we can though questioning find right mix of realism and joy of life. Life has more to offer to us than we think and we have more to offer to the life than we can imagine. That’s why we need optimism and positive beliefs.

Questions are a good tool to sharpen the thinking, and with this we can test if the reasons and references for our beliefs are true or not. By doing this the questioning exercise often enough, we quickly notice that the negative beliefs are not worth it. Positive beliefs combined with actual gratefulness makes life really joyful.

List your positive beliefs about yourself and the world.

Then make another list about the negative beliefs.

I did this exercise yesterday and  I noticed that most of the negative beliefs that popped up didn’t make much sense. I started writing right away reasons that these are actually causing more pain than any good to me and I started to distance myself to these thoughts.

At the same time, I started seeking more positive beliefs. In fact since my imagination was only limited, I could come up with a few good ones, yet I felt lacking something. Then I tried googling and right away for example this list of 100 positive beliefs comes handy, you can take a belief or two from there that really resonate with you and make it your own.

Life is a wonderful adventure,

Janne

Five Thinking Habits That Helped Me to Process Break and Rejection

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I use my personal life as an example often, so I will do today. My relationship status sort of changed to a more complicated as we agreed to have a break. I had sensed something is deeply wrong and I initiated the dialogue to understand is it fixable. In the end we do not have answer, but to go on to our own soul searching for now.

All this happened two weeks ago. It does take a lot of time for me to process everything and only now I’ve realized that his kind of change in my personal life has been biggest and quite sudden in a long time, yet I’ve remained calm and slightly even optimistic, while still processing the change.

There are few close people who I’ve told about this so far and they’ve been rather supportive. What I found interesting is thought that my mom actually guessed that something is wrong after just a few replies over a phone… That’s amazing! Well this observation just proves that the feelings are conveyed in the tone of voice even over phone to those who know you very well.

Sometimes we ourselves are not so aware of feelings, we are not willing to think or talk about them, yet they are obvious to those who we know well.

For me this whole process has been rather positive overall, despite being the one who got sort of put on shelve so to speak. Because I’ve learned that it was more about the relationship than about me.

I remember my self-worth despite the rejections.

Now that I began to write, I also realize that in my professional life I’ve been doing cold calling past two and half years, and I get rejected a lot. I realized that the reason I am still in this kind of environment, sane and loving is the realization that I’ve been able to form healthier thinking habit for rejection.

Healthier thinking habits:

  1. Rejection is rarely personal. Actually it almost never is and even if it is, I know forgiveness is the way forward. By forgiving, we let go, raise ourselves up and choose to focus on what we can control.
  2. Accept the life as it is. The only place we can continue the journey is the present moment and there are no alternatives. So whatever comes whatever it’s obstacle or achievement, the mind of a human is ahead.
  3. Non-violent communication, emphatic, courageous and win-win-win –seeking.
  4. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy there is idea that emotions that produce actions are originally thoughts. When you realize this and become aware of your thought -> emotion -> action patterns you can actually take smarter, more objective look on what kind of thoughts you are having, to what kind of emotions and actions they lead to. In the end we are not our thoughts or our emotions. If you are further interested in exploring try Joyable, there is a 7-day free trial.
  5. Obstacle is the way. Stoicism or Buddhist philosophy has a lot of ideas that are helpful in turning the obstacles as the way. I also wrote about this in Convert Sh*t to Opportunties by Being More Responsible, good often comes from the exact opportunities that are abandoned by others.

Equipped with these, there are only reasons to have more dialogue about things that do not feel right.

Present is the Best There Is

 

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I had a realization, that there is no really any other moment to be than the present moment.

Before I used to feel unreal if something went well, I felt that I had not had much to do with the results.

When things did not go well, I couldn’t cope with it really well. I felt responsible so I worked a lot to just be average.

Most of my days I’ve been stuck somewhere in the average days. Then there are few days I’ve ascended the mediocrity to a higher level. Then there are also days when I’ve been depressed at the lowest lows.

While there probably always will be days to all these directions, what I realized today is simple: present moment is as good as life gets, so better find a way to cope with it. And since it is the best there is, then it would make a sense to make use of it.

Advantage of Pessimistic Thinking Style with Emotional Awareness

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Life is uncertain, that is a given. Rational thoughts might not always help to convince the emotional thoughts to stop worrying, so what to do?

What has worked for me years really well is to have some time for quiet contemplation, where I can become aware of my emotions. Recognizing that what is that emotion or feeling really about, is the first step of taking action.

After a busy work week, I’ve had thoughts and emotions more than enough for the weekend. Now was Sunday morning and my head was still full of feelings not all of which were pleasant. So I decided to dedicate time for contemplation right in the morning, which was a great decision. With about fifteen minutes I discover these feelings of fear, worry and anxiety, which were mostly without rational explanation. As I start to label the feelings, my mood does start to improve. As I recognized fear for example, I understood okay I am afraid and then I ask myself what is it I am afraid? By learning the answers and then answering them, I began to feel a lot better.

When living a busy life, where our conscious minds do not have time and attention for various thougths, our emotional mind takes over the task and as result quickly and effortlessly stores these as simple emotions which might not be the best descriptions the reality. That’s why the emotions later come to haunt us; it’s like a mailbox that has to be dealt with consciously and manually.

Have time for quiet contemplation and emotional awareness, so these emotions do not build up. Only way to have time is to dedicate even a five minutes day to practice.

Seeing the world as it is

My mind is by default quite pessimistic, itself is not negative feature at all. It gets negative when fear, worry or anxiety cross threshold, and start to influence other people in undesirable ways. I would not want to that to happen, that’s why I’ve been practicing meditation daily for almost eight years now.

Advantage of pessimistic mind is that it can be trained for realistic thinking, where we see have better sense of the reality. When I started my journey of personal growth on 2009, I recognized that earlier I had not necessarily made right perceptions: I often overestimated the probability what will happen and how often I will fail. I feared a lot of ordinary things, even things that affected my health and wellbeing. With the realization that my perception of the reality might be wrong, I began to experiment and take more risks. I took action despite of my fear and decided to see what will happen, I didn’t have much to lose anyway.

Thanks to putting myself in to those situations, I begun a little by little to develop more accurate sense of reality. I also understood that the failures are overestimation from my part (pessimistic mind does not like failures, because its’ very loss averse), however I started to change the meaning of failure from actual failure to learning. In other words I learned to bet the kind of loss that I was completely comfortable of losing.  I think that we all need to live bigger and in order to do that we need to take chances in learning, i.e. take a risk that we can handle.

Where optimistic mind sees the chance for success despite the actual low odds, pessimistic minds highlights the high failure percentage. We can live and be successful with either setting, or then to use combination of these, whatever suits you best.

Personally I know that the pessimistic mind comes with the chance of depression and it is something I’ve gone through as well. To prevent that, we need to occasionally have more time to reflect, recheck what is happening on our emotional map and then revise the course accordingly.

Success Starts with a Choice, Repeat the Choice Daily and You Become That Choice

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When you learn to take the first step, taking the second step is just a matter of choice. Continuing the thought from yesterday with attaining the results we want from the life.

Excuses are easy way out, but once we have learned to take the first step, only thing that prevents us from taking the second is our own choice. We already know how, so then it’s merely matter of taking the steps until we reach our goals.

In theory that is, in reality there are limitations such as time and space in addition to our own beliefs and views of the reality. Here comes the big difference, about a really sensitive topic: optimism and pessimism.

As I’ve read and studied Martin Seligman’s book about Learned Optimism, I’ve also come to understand that it’s not necessarily solution to turn everyone into optimist, although there are certainly benefits when dealing with depression.

I’ve experienced depression and my natural thinking style has been quite pessimistic, or realistic as I would have put it myself even ten years ago. In fact, after reading the book the realistic observations seem to be right according to the book, although the explanation style in life is a major downside, which indeed has been a more limiting and depressing factor.

As I’ve become more aware of this internal dialogue and more importantly the explanation styles I’ve become also more relieved that with such minor adjustments I can find reasons to live fuller life.

When it comes to pessimism and optimism, we are talking inevitably about our relationship to time and space as well. Optimists seem to think good things last forever, while pessimists that they are very specific and temporary.

In the long process of life, I find it that having the belief to influence things and make life better is a very empowering one. What I know for sure, is that we have the tiny space of control: our decisions. Nothing in the universe can take that ability to make our internal choices away from us, we have that power.

Leveraging that tiny choice, power of decision we can create higher quality lives for everyone.

Quality comes through quantity, the more we do the more quality we are likely to produce. The more we do, the more feedback we are able to receive and through that we can improve.

Therefore once we first learn the first step. Second step is to keep on the repetition until we have mastered that one step. If we keep taking once step at a time and that becomes our nature, we will master whatever we desire in life.

Learning optimism might help, however it isn’t a requirement. Only requirement is the decision and keeping on to that decision every day.

Kindful Internal Dialogue

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I am about to read Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism, where I should learn a great deal about internal dialogue, a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot lately.

So far all of my knowledge is based on pieces of information I’ve picked up here and there, so it’s finally great to dig deeper at the source.

My interest to internal dialogue is the same as why we are so interested in stories. Internal dialogue is essentially continuation on the narration we tell ourselves. Therefore what we say to ourselves will influence greatly our futures. So I want understand more about to that, to be able to create more positive spirals in life.

At the moment I see the relationship between language, thoughts and actions interwoven: all have the potential to change each other, however since changes do happen I would be curious to know which habits are the most influential of them all. Is it the thinking? Or is it the way we speak? Or does indeed actions create more positive narrative by themselves.

Our effortless and automatic habits create most of what we see in our everyday life. That which we do, determine what we are going to get. Same goes to our internal dialogue: it is the dialogue between who I think I am and who I think I can be.

The power of the narrative is powerful, we constantly narrate our lives and events. Recognizing negative self-dialogue and finding something more mindful to say, I guess is a one thing we can do. However what kind of others tools there are to rewrite more positive self-dialogue there are? What can we do for others to help them to be more kind to themselves?

For some of these questions I am hoping to find answers.

Meanwhile what I do know, is that which we repeatedly do, let’s say each day: can become very integral part of us. It can be very small task each day: write a sentence or two. Think of five gratitudes or three positive things during today? Even small things as this over time will make a huge difference. I started to write “three positive things” through each day on 2010 and I keep doing that each day. Usually I find way more than three, however we all have to start somewhere.

Honestly I do not remember which magazine I picked up the advice from, however I remember it was a free ad magazine perhaps some kind of pharmaceutical ad where a doctor or something shared this advice and I did put it to action. Now over six years I’ve followed to action and what I’ve found really powerful is the way I can relive those positive memories from six years ago.

Although I use journal to write everything, what I do most enjoy doing to visit to the end of the day where I’ve summarized only the things I’ve found pleasant and life worth living. Small things can have huge impact!

Pop music is a good example of how big ideas can become huge. A song under three minutes a day can influence hugely to a person and to large crowds with its message. It takes only a few minutes to listen to a song, and repeated over days they go to our hearts and minds as well. Songs like stories cross our defenses and are thus able to influence our lives in a deepest ways.

We need more stories and songs of growth and acceptance, more of what can be done and what we can become!

All that starts with kindful internal dialogue: being mindful what is going on and saying it in the kind way instead.

Patience triumphs the worst

 

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All situations contain solutions to themselves, although in the situation itself its’ difficult to see it.

Any one thing can be viewed from more than one side and thus life is full of transformational events.

Before jumping to conclusion about any particular events significance, have the patience to wait and see. Judging a turn too quickly can cause a lot of mischief and misunderstandings.

With patience and practice of seeing the bright side, everything is for the best, even the worst.

Harnessing the dual energies of optimism and pessimism

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Out of two thinking patterns, I thought that the pessimism was doomed and optimism was the only way to go. A lot more recently I’ve come to understand that of course there are merits to both of the thinking patterns when used correctly.

We have our natural temperaments tuned to either one, however we can also train our minds to certain extent to see to world in a different light. One such way is priming your mind by journaling and finding three positive things from each day. Another way is gratitude meditation.

To try, to get to action the optimist spark is very useful. With gloom outlook we are rarely going to try anything if we do not think we have a chance to succeed.

Pessimist outlook is not particularly bright about the future, that’s exactly it has tremendous potential power to prepare for the worst cases, see the risks and minimize all the possible negative consequences.

What I suggest here is to channel both energies in where they are most useful. Worry can be turned into action of researching and thinking of the worst cases, the optimist spark into long term vision which can help us to handle the gloom times as well.

It is possible to have both of these gears, another option is to have people who have different kind of thinking tendencies than yourself and listen to that. Acid testing ideas with different mindset, and especially worst cases are a mature way of going about things. Once that all is done, we should light the candle of optimism and trust that the shelter we build for the fire is strong enough or even if it’s not we are prepared and competent to face the storms.

Suppressed emotions might affect our world view

Recently I’ve been really interested about natural tendency, and I’ve pondered long about my own. Hobby along all this thinking has been reading. On my evening commute today a strong thought hit me as I read Susan Cain’s Quiet book, there Cain refers to psychologist Judith Grob work with the phrase:

“People who tend to [suppress their negative emotions] regularly might start to see the world in a more negative light.” ― from Cain, Susan (2012-03-29). Quiet. (p. 319). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

This really struck me, and stopped me! Judidth Grob calls this emotional leakage in the original article. It might hold the seeds for having more optimist outlook of life, which again has many positive benefits such as longevity of life.

I’ve yet not figured out my tendencies on the level I would like to. However, at the same time I’ve sought to understand life better and thoughts that help me to live the life. For this I’ve studied Buddhism. Recently I started from beginning again, because sometimes its good to return to the basics. So, now I’ve been reading, watching videos etc. about the very basic ideas of Buddhist thought. And today I had a quite strong insight.

Buddha encourages to accept the life as it is, thus he says, life has suffering. Suffering is inevitable, so what a great man does, is to accept that and not to attach it any longer. The process of accepting life is the same as forgiveness, where we have to accept that something happened, then forgive and let go. Powerful thoughts that let us be more fully in the present.

When we are in the present, we are also more likely to observe our emotions and how we are expressing or not expressing them, thus creating more virtuous cycles and more fulfilling life experience for ourselves and the world at large.