Friday, February 13, 2015

Calm Down

Stop what you are doing right now. At this very moment, stop everything and listen to me. I want you to close your eyes for the next 30 seconds and deeply breathe. Take long, deep breaths to the point you almost ache. Do it now.....


Life can be so extremely overwhelming. There are times when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Because of this we honestly miss life. It seriously just passes by. As a child I can recall thinking Christmas, summer vacation, my birthday would never come. Life was lived day to day. I don't recall worrying about what was going to happen tomorrow or focusing on the days behind because my eyes were so eager to see what the current day held for me. Life was bigger as a child and even as a teen. Have you ever walked back into your old Elementary School or High School? Ever gone back to a home you visited when you were younger and realize how small it is now?

Trees were taller, nights were longer, friendships were more sincere. What happened?

I believe that our focus changed. It changed us and how we perceive our day to day life. Every person, every form of pleasure we seek, every thought or idea that we entertain has the ability to create a positive or a negative effect on us. More often than not, we humans tend to focus more on the negative. It is just easier, but why?

Mainly because there can always be a downside to everything that is good. However, there can always be an upside to everything that is bad; though it seems that we spend more of our energy on remembering the bad and forgetting the good.

How many times can you recall your bills being paid on time and without any penalty?
How many times can you recall your finance charges increasing or your water being shut off or a bill collector contacting you?
How many times has your boss or a co-worker, friend, spouse, teacher praised you? What did they say?
Can you recall the negative things they said to you? Is it easier to remember the bad?

Fortunately, yet unfortunately, you are not alone. Our brains are actually wired to remember negative events more than positive ones. However, this doesn't mean that our focus has to remain on the unfortunate experiences thus creating an attitude of doubt or pessimism. We can actually change our focus back to a more relaxed state of mind where the good outweighs the bad.

Here are 3 steps to help you change your focus to a more positive way of thinking and living.

1. Breathe

When we are relaxed we breathe slower than when we are anxious or experiencing negativity. We actually take breath for granted because it is a powerful tool used to calm the mind when the going gets tough, when we feel threatened or when bogged down with worry. Deep breathing slows down your heart rate and brings with it a sense of calm. There are many ways you can practice deep breathing by looking online for tips and techniques. For me, there are two ways I calm my emotions down and put my mind back into a more realistic way of thinking.

A. I close my eyes and breathe in through my nose until I can no longer take in a breath. I hold that for a count of 10 and release it through my mouth to a count of 10.

B. A new technique I recently learned was to breath in through the nose for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 7 and release through the mouth for a count of 8.

2. Gratitude

It really is easiest when life is going great and things are running smoothly to have a grateful mindset. But when things get rough that is when gratitude is most difficult. Being grateful for your bed, home, family, friends, job, transportation, clothing, food, laughter and so much more is one way you can begin to change your focus. Looking at the everyday things we take for granted or just expect to have easy access to because it has always been readily available opens up your mind to see how blessed we all really are. Even those less fortunate tend to have a more grateful attitude than most of us because they have been through or are going through a lot in their life and they really appreciate the blessings they do have.  Because gratitude will give you a sense of perspective that maybe life isn't as bad as it appears, you will become more high spirited when the going gets tough.

3. Forget the Past/Change it from Negative to Positive

Your past does not define your future. Your mistakes, missed opportunities, loved lost, etc...are no longer present. They are behind you for a reason. Too many people I know, including myself at times, dwell on the negative things they have experienced once before and often many moons ago. We wish we would have done this or not have done that. Focusing on the past can greatly hinder our progression into the future. To change your focus in this area why not share your story with someone? Use your negative past experiences to mentor, counsel or encourage someone you know who may be going through the exact same thing this very moment. Turn the bad into something that can be used for good.

While we will all have bad days we can change our approach to receive these negative experiences in a calmer fashion. Practice these three steps and watch the child in you realize that things aren't as big as you remembered.

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