Sometimes things happen that dismay or disturb. When those incidents do occur, how quickly can you reclaim your positive attitude? Who is in charge of your emotions?
Dr. Tom Costa, Founder of the Palm Desert, CA Church of Religious Science used to say, “If you are going through Hell, don’t pitch your tent there. Keep on moving.”
One of the main skills we learn in Centers for Positive Living is how to keep on moving. We are united in our belief that we don’t need misery and we can claim happiness. When people need to overhaul their belief systems, Positive Living Centers are the place to do it. We don’t stare at lemons and wring our hands. We make our claim on joy and drink lemonade or champagne, as we choose.
Of course, things happen and people do get down. The important thing is recovery speed. Hanging onto our stories creates new tragedies. In the novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Miss Havisham, wears her tattered, ancient wedding dress and lives her in her personal Hell built around being jilted. Her decision to wallow in grief, anger and a need for revenge, ruins many lives.
Most stories aren’t as dramatic as that Victorian soap opera but we all know people who get down in the dumps and can’t crawl out for days, or weeks, or months, or even years. Like Miss Havisham, and they believe they have no control over their feelings. We know better.
In Positive Living Centers, we learn our emotions are a part of our consciousness. That consciousness includes our emotions, thoughts and beliefs and it constantly sends messages to Universal Mind (God). What’s more, Universal Mind responds to the messages by sending more of whatever we are thinking, feeling and believing.
The responsiveness of Universal Mind is both good and bad news. It isn’t so great to learn that a bad mood attracts more negative stuff. On the other hand, it is wonderful to discover we can change our minds and that creates change our in our lives. The more we can stay positive in our thoughts and actions, the more positive our lives will be.
Almost no one can be positive all the time. There are times when, for most of us, negativity is a natural response. If your lover dies, you are sad. If your job disappears, you are discouraged. It may not always be possible to keep from reacting to events. On the other hand, you do have control over how long you stay in a negative reaction.
Negative moods are seldom useful. Grief may be normal but it does no good. Wearing black forever is boring. Freeway impatience may bubble up on the drive to work but it shouldn’t spoil your day. If you make a mistake and use tooth paste for shaving cream at 7 AM, there’s no need to be upset at 11 PM. The anger or grief that you hold onto are only felt by you. They do not affect the other person – you are the one who flunks the stress test.
Taking charge quickly and controlling our emotional response to events is a very effective skill. Learning to control of our familiar moods is also very useful. Some of us have formed habits of sadness, depression, self-pity or self-condemnation over many years. We identify these habits as negative moods. There are skills for dealing with those old habits as well. We do not need to pitch our tents in an old story.
There was a time when I would get very depressed and cry all weekend. I was in my forties and convinced my life was ruined. Between my 12 Step program and Science of Mind, I learned to handle my moods and live a happier life.
From 12 Step, I learned the past was gone forever. I also learned to live one day at a time. I used the Serenity Prayer like a mantra and said it until my mood shifted. I also learned I had to go to meetings and stick with supportive people.
Science of Mind gave me an amazing array of positive techniques to use in my daily life. It took a while, but I learned to use spiritual tools. One of my personal tools was to think of myself as a cranky two year old when my mood began to slide downward. What do you do for a fretful (or screaming) toddler? You distract her.
I discovered I didn’t need to solve most problems. If I simply distracted myself my life would generally heal itself. I would lure myself away from self-pity by watching an old movie or reading a chapter in my Science of Mind Textbook. I switched channels and moved on.
Last week, our Conversations in Consciousness group talked about personal techniques for changing moods. Some of the things I’ve listed came from that discussion. Others I learned others along the way.
Helping someone else raises your self-esteem.
Laughter heals the heart. Cultivate belly laughs.
Choose books that have happy endings. Watch comedies on TV.
Stick with cheerful people.
Wear bright clothes. Give away the clutter.
Make friends with some children.
Exercise – any kind of exercise works.
Get a massage. Go to yoga classes.
Get out in nature. Chase squirrels. Study beetles.
A walk on the beach can lead to happiness.
Today, see if you can add activities that make the list longer. We can all benefit from having plenty of techniques for putting our heads on straight.
When I want to move to the sunny side of the street, how do I do it?
When I want to get my head on straight, how do you start?
What are my tools for positive mood swings?