We have a biological predisposition to think negatively- it's a protective device our ancestors used to avoid threats. This default mode of thinking doesn't serve us as well these days in either our personal or professional lives. It leads us to think poorly of ourselves, doubt our abilities, and expect the worst of others. This energy can be toxic to ourselves (both physical and mental health) and those around us.
The good news is research shows we can rewire ourselves to default to positive thoughts- we just have to train our brains.
The concept of Pratipaksha Bhavana emphasizes first building awareness of this negativity bias, then counteracting it by cultivating opposing thoughts. The more you do this, the more you disarm the power and force behind negative thinking even when it comes back.
Instead of flipping upside down to shift your perspective- try a gratitude experiment.
Think of 3 things you're grateful for every day this week.
They can be as simple as the fact that the sun is out. Write them down or say them out loud (or both!).
While you can do the exercise any time, starting your day from a place of positivity can really set the tone and influence the lens you view things from for the rest of it.
Perhaps one of the three things you write down and say today is something that you're grateful you DON'T have. Sometimes I'm filled with such relief when I reflect back on things that didn't go as I'd originally hoped. Relationships that didn't pan out or jobs I didn't get were so upsetting at the time, but in hindsight it's SO clear to see how misaligned they were with my true path.
Instead of being disappointed or frustrated you didn't see the lessons sooner, can you look at some of these plot twists in your own life and pull some appreciation from them?
"Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have."
Sometimes the wants creep in and cloud the haves. Try thinking about something you used to want and now have, like good health when you had a cold, or a few minutes to yourself in your busy schedule. The "things" we're grateful for don't have to be external "things" at all.
If you find your day gets away from you and your mind is clouded by the stress or challenges that come your way, pause, breathe, and come back to the three things on your gratitude list.
You have more control over your mindset and mood than you think.
How different would our moods be if we made these tiny tweaks more consistently? How much kinder might we be not only to ourselves but also to those around us? Have you noticed the benefits of this practice in your health or in the way you approach your work?
Below are some images from my seven day gratitude challenge on instagram. Feel free to follow me over there for more regular updates!