Mindset, journaling & positivity

Are you a negative person or a positive person?  Would those closest to you agree? 

Positivity is important not only to your relationships but also to your health.  Being positive has been proven to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and lengthen your lifespan.  (Say “yes” To that!)   If you take the time each day to improve your mindset, you’ll improve your physical health, mental health, relationships and even your career. Yes, your career!  How?  A happier employee becomes more creative, more productive and more pleasant to be around.  That leads to better job evaluations, promotions and pay raises.   

Let’s be honest.  It isn’t easy.  We all have times when we think our brain needs to be rewired from negative to positive.  You may be dealing with family drama, a health issue or a job loss.  Suddenly your positive mojo is spiraling downhill.  And a friend telling you, “Think positive!” doesn’t help.

So, what’s the answer?  How do you take yourself from a negative mindset to a positive mindset?  How do you approach challenging and difficult situations with more positivity?

Step #1:  Take out your journal.  It’s time for soul-searching self-talk.  Resetting your mind requires introspection— a willingness to look at your thoughts on paper.  And look at the words you use to describe your life.

Traditionally, I always described my life as “busy,” or “chaotic” and often “crazy.”  Now I work to change those words to something more positive like “lively” or  “fun” or “adventurous.”  It’s the same life, I’m just using different words to give my outlook a different, (more positive) flavor.

Your journal will help you see in black and white the words you’ve been using.  Do they need a little editing to give your life more flare?

Step #2. Say Thank you.  Use your journal to build your gratitude practice.  When times are tough, we forget there’s anything good worth mentioning.  So every morning, make it a habit to get up, open your journal and say thank you.  On the days you can’t come up with anything to be grateful for— make it something super basic.  “Glad I have toothpaste.”  It’s just a way to nudge your brain from its negativity bias to a more positive setting.

Step #3. Pick a song.  What are the lyrics that you will sing to yourself today.  What words will lift you up?  Write it in your journal.  Today I’m choosing “Not Afraid” by Eminem.  

Step #4. Pick Your People.  You can’t hang out with just anyone.  Our emotions match the emotions of the people we hang with.  If they’re positive and smiling, the mirror neurons in your brain have you smile back.  Smiles are contagious.  But so are complaints, stress and anxiety.    Surround yourself with people who inspire you and lift you higher.

Step #5: Take a breath.  Use your breath to build the positivity in your life.  It works both physically and mentally.  It’s your body’s built-in positivity system.

Here in Detroit we started an organization called “Kids Kicking Cancer.”  We teach children with life-threatening diseases power-breathing techniques so they can go through grueling and painful treatments feeling empowered and positive.  They’re taught to “breath in light and breath out darkness.”  With every inhale, these young warriors fighting for their lives breath in good things like patience, love, and joy.  Then, with every exhale they let go of stress, anxiety and frustration.

Try it now.  Take 5 deep breaths.  On the inhale breathe in the good and on the exhale breathe out the bad.

The real benefit of taking these moments to breath is that focusing on the breath brings you to the present moment.  You let go of your regrets from the past or anxiety about the future.  You become totally present and in the moment. 

Practice power breathing every morning and you’ll learn what our tiny cancer patients have learned.  It works.  As a result, the organization has spread from Detroit to medical centers around the world.  That’s the power of positive power breathing.

Step #6. Give and then give some more.  The more we give the happier we are.  Mic drop.  

Giving of your money, time or energy connects us to others and puts more meaning into our lives.  Start by giving time to yourself each morning using your Morning Matters Journal.  The better we connect to ourselves, the better we can connect with others.

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi