A Judgment-Free Day

As I did the Complaint-Free exercise from the previous post, I realized many of my complaints came out of judging people and situations.  So, in the manner of the Complaint-Free Day, I decided to try a day with no judging.  For the purposes here, we will focus on no negative judgments.

First, what is judging? Dictionary.com defines judgment as: ‘to infer, think, or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess.’  Seems like a lot of work.

Right off the bat, I realized that I judge others when I am unsure about myself.  I’m sure this is the ego’s way to feel better about myself by putting others down.

I also discovered something surprising.  Not only was I judging others, I was also judging myself and situations.  So this day of no judging, is about not labeling my actions as good or bad, not classifying an event as fun or boring, difficult or easy, as well as not judging other people.

A few times recently when I found myself in true joy, I realized after the fact that I didn’t judge others at all.  I find when I am truly joyful, which means I am on my path, I am focused on love, I am having fun, I am doing meaningful things, I don’t judge others. Judging doesn’t even cross my mind. When I am in this state of true connection with what really matters, I am not concerned with negative aspects of others or myself. So, the opposite must be true…We judge others when we are not in touch with our true selves, not doing our divine work, not on purpose with our divine plan, or simply not enjoying life.

Benefits of Not Judging

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes tend to dismiss things without giving them a chance.  I now see that this is one of the detriments of judging.  I’ll have an idea, and then, I immediately judge it as bad or dumb or list the many reasons why it couldn’t work.  Then, of course, I don’t follow the idea since I’ve already negatively judged it.  If I didn’t judge the idea, then maybe the idea would have a chance to actually turn into something, perhaps something magnificent.  But it never gets that chance.

A monumental thing that happens when you don’t judge something – you give it space to reveal its true meaning.  What we would judge as a bad or uncomfortable circumstance could have a purpose of teaching us something or showing us an alternate way or presenting a new idea.  For example, if we judge an argument as wrong – or more likely we judge our counterpart in the argument as wrong – we never allow a meaningful lesson to be revealed.  We have already labeled him or her as wrong in their criticism of us, for instance, and so we don’t see that there is a kernel of truth in that and, thus, never go about improving ourselves. We just stay stuck in the negative judgment.

We judge not only to feel better than others but also to distract us from our divine goals. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of unknown, fear of change…whatever the reason, we fear and put off our personal growth. We become preoccupied with others’ inadequacies in order to stall or block our personal growth.  If we are so drawn into the drama or flaws of others we are distracted from looking at what we’d like to improve in ourselves.

Ways to Stop Judging

When I find myself judging, I ask myself, Why do I care?!  Why am I taking the time and effort to judge this person or situation?  Then I remind myself, I am judging in order to not see something in myself that needs improvement.  Or maybe it is myself that I am judging.  Either way, I return to my good ol’ foundational self-worth exercises.

Also included in the definition of judgment is a legal judge.  I like to use the image of a judge, you know, in his or her formal robe and I like to throw in there the British judge with the white wig and all to really amp up the image.  I picture myself in this getup when I am amidst a judgment and – after a bout of laughter – realize that is so not my job!  And it sure seems like a lot of unnecessary work.  It’s a good way to snap myself out of focusing on criticizing others, myself, or situations.

Bottom line, the key to not judging (it’s always the same answer) is to love ourselves.  When we know our value and worth from within, we don’t need to seek it by external means.  If we can redirect this time, effort and energy wasted on judgment to loving ourselves, others and finding the good in situations, it is sure to let in some really good stuff and change our lives for the better.

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A Complaint-Free Day

I was taking an online course from a much-loved author, Doreen Virtue.  She suggested to try to go 24 hours without complaining.  I thought it sounded like an interesting and exciting experiment; very doable, easy even.  I started that very moment.  But, why?  What exactly is the point of not complaining?

Complaining is a form of negativity.  Complaints focus on problems rather than solutions; on what we don’t want rather than what we appreciate.  When we complain, the Universe gives us more to complain about.

Our complaints may well be 100% true.  We’re not saying that what we are complaining about is not valid.  But because of our negative focus, we are literally creating more of what we do not want.  If we want love, health, and fun, complaining is simply not the route to the good stuff, regardless of whether the complaint is true or not.

To my surprise, within the hour I had a thought about something I did not want.  I told myself that that was not a complaint; I was just noticing something unwanted.  But really I knew it was just a tiny step away from an outright complaint. As time progressed and I had more “non-complaints”, I found myself justifying how these were not complaints, but simply facts.  For instance, my legs are sore (from excessive yard work) is just a statement of fact.  But, of course, behind that “fact” was a miserable feeling of pain.  In other words, a complaint!

That got me to thinking what exactly is a complaint?  According to dictionary.com, it is, “To express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault; to tell of one’s pains, ailments, etc.”

Oh boy.  I had definitely been complaining.  I would add to that definition that complaining is focusing on the negative, feeling victimized and powerless to change unwanted circumstances.  Important to note is that complaining doesn’t necessarily have to be expressed to someone.  It can be just our own internal thoughts.  We may not complain aloud, and so our ego may trick us into believing we are not complaining.

After accepting that I was indeed complaining, but still trying to defend these “non-complaint” statements to my husband and internally to myself, I asked why do I want to allow these statements?  What is to gain from complaining?

Personally, I felt as if I couldn’t function without them.  I needed them.  Complaining, in the form of venting, can actually be a sort of release of frustration or anger.  But there is an extremely fine line which, nine and a half times out of ten, gets crossed.  It can go from being (somewhat) helpful to toxic in the blink of an eye.

The next day I clearly saw how I used complaining as a sort of common ground or small talk with acquaintances.  She was complaining, so I complained back.  It gave me a feeling of connection to another.  It gave me a sense of security by having something to say to somebody with whom I didn’t have much in common.  At work, I perceived that it was a way to waste time or procrastinate.

I also noticed the more I complained, the more I drew to myself more complainers!  Complainers feed off of each other.  If we find ourselves in the company of complainers – or one person who complains a lot –that serves as a good wake-up call to our own state of complaining.

I also used complaining as a way to justify my rightness by pointing out what’s wrong with others or the government or the world….whomever, so long as “they” were wrong and I was right.

Another so-called benefit from complaining is to get sympathy from others.  Have you noticed it’s often the case when you offer a solution to someone who is complaining, they ignore it.  (Or maybe you are the one ignoring a suggested solution.) Usually complainers are not looking for a solution.  When we do not nurture ourselves we resort to looking for love and caring from external sources.  Complaining can be a way to get that from others.

Clearly the ego reaps different types of benefits from complaining.  But when scrutinized, these were not the type of benefits I wanted anymore.

How to stop complaining?

  • When we do complain (aloud or internally), don’t beat ourselves up. We are human so we are not going to be 100% complaint-free.  The goal of this exercise is to become more aware of how much we actually complain.  Not to point out how bad we are, but to rise above it.
  • Focus on things that make us feel good rather than on things that make us want to complain. For example, if we know a new law gets us riled up, don’t keep reading about it!  If we know someone that irritates us, don’t ask them to lunch!
  • Counter complaints with the positive side. For instance, with my sore legs complaint, I could counter with:  My legs are sore, but I really did a nice job on the yard.
  • Ask ourselves, what benefit are we getting from this particular complaint? Then ask if it is worth all the negative sludge that comes with the benefit? For example, was it worth it for me to feel secure and connected to that acquaintance of mine?  No, because I don’t want a connection based on negativity and I don’t need to talk just for the sake of talking. If the benefit is sympathy, then we know we need to put more focus on nurturing ourselves.
  • Ask ourselves, is there something we can change regarding the subject of this complaint? If yes, then do it.  If not, then say a prayer or affirmation and move on.
  • If we are complaining to vent, find another way to let off steam. Exercise, scream in our car or home alone (this one is sure to make us laugh too!), write it down and then tear or burn it, take deep breaths and ask God/Divine Beings to help us let it go.

There’s always going to be things we don’t like and to complain about.  Even if we get our personal lives to the point of being 99.99% to our satisfaction, there will inevitably be something in the world at large with which we could complain about.  The point isn’t to make the outer world and circumstances perfect.  But rather, to be aware that we have the capability to choose our personal thoughts, words, and actions which will make all the difference in terms of our happiness.  When we are happy, those around us will be happier, or at least, they will have a better chance to be happier.  For sure, nobody will be happier around a complainer, including ourselves.

Visualization and Imagery

Back in football season, I saw a playoff game where a field goal would have won the game for that team.  An ordinary field goal that the kicker had made many times.  It wasn’t like it was longer than what he was used to or had never done before.  Basically it was a run of the mill play for him.  However, he did not make it this time.  And it wasn’t because of a block from another player.  In other words, it was not missed due to any physical reason.  It was only missed because of his own thoughts.  Our thoughts can help us or hurt us.  It’s our choice.

One way we can utilize our thoughts to our benefit is through visualization.  This is the technique where we mentally visualize something that we want.  To continue with the sports theme, athletes have been using visualization for years.  In the 1980s, Russians studied Olympic athletes who mentally rehearsed (aka, visualized) their sport.  They found that the performance of those that included visualization exceeded those that did not include visualization as part of their practice.

Various other studies have compared three groups of people: those that lift weights, those that visualize lifting weights and those that do neither.  Of course, the weight lifters increased strength and the couch potatoes didn’t.  But the astonishing finding is that the visualizers also increased their muscle strength.  Actual muscle strength can be increased by only visualizing lifting weights.  By only visualizing it!

Further studies have shown that the autonomic nervous system is triggered by mental visualizations of the athletes’ sporting activities which then led to increased physical performance.  In other words, to the body, it doesn’t matter if it is real or imagined.  You’ve probably experienced this yourself:  Ever wake up from a nightmare with an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, or sweating?  It certainly wasn’t from your body physically moving.  It was only from your mind!

Professional athletes today are using imagery as opposed to visualization because it also has been found that using all the senses – not just visual – boost performance.  They say the more they can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell the event, the more it improves their performance.  And the research shows that it only takes a few minutes a day to have an effect.

You are probably saying at this point, ‘Fascinating, but I’m not an athlete so what’s this got to do with me?’  The point is that this research with athletes has proven the power of visualization and imagery to help us achieve things in the physical.  This is incredibly amazing and powerful data that can be extended from physical conditioning of our bodies to any physical object, event, or circumstance that we want.

How to Visualize

First of all, visualizing is not difficult.  Egos usually tell us, we aren’t able to do it.  But, it’s just not practiced.  It’s not something most of us do regularly so we think it is a tough task.  The more we practice it though, the easier – and more fun! – it becomes.

Imagine something, anything you can dream up.  Not as you think it should be or as others would want it to be. (Nobody will judge you because this is all you.  You don’t have to tell a soul what you are imagining.)  It can be what you believe is a far-fetched dream or something more plausible to you.  The subject could be anything from physical conditioning, health, relationship, a material object, feeling more meaning and purpose, to helping others.  When your ego comes in and offers negativity (‘that could never happen’ or ’that’s dumb’, etc.), gently dismiss it.  If it persists, then you know it is time to end the session.

For only 5-10 minutes every day or so, see, feel, taste, smell, and hear the details of your dream.  Be in it, rather than watching it like a movie.  Here’s some random examples:

A new car:  See the car.  See the color of it inside and out.  Smell that new car smell.  Hear the sound of the engine.  The feel of the seat as you sit down.  Hear the friend talking to you who is in the car with you, etc.

Running a mile or 10 miles or a marathon: See yourself in your workout clothes.  Imagine your route and every detail you know about it.  See where you cross a street, pass a particular building.  Feel your breathing becoming more labored and imagine taking a deep, helpful breath.  Smell your sweat (ha!).  See yourself finishing the route and feel the feeling of being so proud of yourself.

Getting the idea of this?  Note that we’re not trying to fix something in our visualizations.  For example, we’re not taking a relationship with problems and working to find solutions.  We’re not trying to solve a problem of the world.  Visualization time should be pure enjoyment and fun!

We also visualize what we want so that these things do not feel so foreign or unlikely.  It helps us get used to the idea of them.  The more we visualize and feel them in our minds, the more they will seem likely to us to happen in physical reality.  Remember, our minds do not know if we are just imagining something or doing it in the physical.  So the more we imagine something, the more it will seem like the next logical step in “real” life.  It will not be an out-of-the-blue, crazy idea, because you have been feeling like you were already doing it.

Be careful not to then feel bad in your “real” life when you look at what is or isn’t, compared to what you visualized.  Be patient with the manifestation of your desires; all in divine time.  Turning your focus to appreciation of the things you currently do have in your life is an excellent way to stop the frustration of seeing what is lacking. When you do start to see the desires manifesting, then acknowledge and be appreciative of them, as well.

Try it out and see what manifests for you!

Manifest Our Desires (aka, Get Things We Want)

Of course we can be joyful without any material object or relationship.  The ultimate goal is to be happy regardless of any external thing.  But…we want things!  And that is perfectly normal and natural.  We are in this world of physicality.  Let’s embrace and enjoy material things, always mindful that we don’t need them to be happy.  But that it is more than okay to have fun with and enjoy things.

So how do we get things we want?  A lot of hard work and physical effort?  Wrong!  But it seems that is what most people believe.  From the Puritan Work Ethic, conservative religion, governments, etc. trying to control the masses, whatever the origin, this is what has been ingrained in most people’s minds in our society.  But it simply is not true.

The work hard motto has definitely been ingrained in my mind.  But by playing around with, testing out and doing some experiments for fun, I’ve seen, first-hand, what can be manifested by not putting in that 110% physical effort.  At least not in the typical way.  It all has to do with focusing our thoughts.  Manifesting physical things all begins with what we think and how we feel emotionally.

The way we feel is the indicator of what we are thinking and what vibration we are.  Feeling good means we are thinking good thoughts (joy, happiness, appreciation, fun, enthusiasm, love) and indicates we are at a high vibration.  Feeling bad means we’ve mostly had negative thoughts going on (worry, sad, angry, jealous, bored, guilt, confused, fear) and means we are at a low vibration.

Whoa.  What the heck is vibration?  This is where the science comes in.  Yep, that’s right…science.

I’m definitely not a scientist nor completely understand science.  (And please pardon me if I have some slight errors in explaining the science.)  But I think it is worth it to take some time to ponder the quantum world.  Not just for the sake of expanding our minds, but to fully realize that we shape our reality whether we are aware of it or not.

Science proves the existence of vibration.  Quantum physics has shown that everything is made up of energy.  And all energy is moving, or, in other words, vibrating.  Everything is made up of millions of subatomic particles that are vibrating.  Everything vibrates at different rates or frequencies.  Including us.  (Also including our thoughts. But, we’ll get to that in a minute.) Envision everything as masses of vibrating energy, rather than as what we can see and touch.  This is not just theory but proven scientific discoveries by esteemed scientists like, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Max Planck (names to google, if you desire).

Einstein’s famous equation, which most of us have at least heard of, from the 1920s, E=MC2, states that matter (physical objects) and energy can be converted into each other and thus are essentially the same!  Energy – something we cannot see – and matter – that which we can see – are the same things in different forms.  He theorized, through mathematical equations, that everything is made of atoms and that all atoms consist of sub-atomic particles which consist of pure energy at their most basic level.  Even things that appear to be very different.  At their basic level, everything is made up of this same energy.

It was just Einstein’s theory; for there was no way to prove it at the time.  But it has now been proven over and over again by highly regarded scientists.  In other words, it is not just some out of the blue, airy-fairy idea.  (Although this is where I do not fully understand the science behind it and cannot seem to wrap my head around these experiments!  This is where I trust the scientists and move beyond to where this fact can actually benefit my life.)

Then came the Copenhagen Interpretation by Niels Bohr, also from the 1920s.  This says that a particle doesn’t exist in one state or another (energy or physical) but in all possible states simultaneously.  It’s not until we observe it that it chooses its state.  Quantum physics has proven that the same atom can be a solid physical particle or a non-physical wave of energy depending on what the observer is expecting.

So what this means in practical terms is that our thoughts create physical things!  Everything that was created was a thought first.  Again, this is not a self-help or new age-y idea.  This is scientifically proven and accepted as fact in the professional scientific community for almost one hundred years.

The idea of Quantum Entanglement began in the 1930s in a paper by scientists Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, which was later proven in multiple experiments.  In these experiments (which continue through the modern day), subatomic particles of energy were split in half.  It was found that each half affected the other half regardless of how physically far apart they were and the effect was received instantly.  It did not matter if the halves were close to each other or across the globe.  Regardless of physical distance, interacting with one half always had a simultaneous effect on the other half.  Because the effect was instantaneous – did not take time to travel through space – this means each half is still connected with the other.  If the Big Bang theory is correct (note that Einstein’s theories, and many other esteemed scientists of the time, could not be proven at the time until technology advanced to provide ways to test the theories), then everything in the world was “entangled” at the start, so that means everything has an effect on everything else.

Our Thoughts are Energy

How do we know our thoughts are made of this same energy?  It seems like thoughts could be an exception (says the ego).  But consider this: Our brains generate an electrical field which these days can be measured by ordinary medical equipment, such as, electroencephalogram (EEG).  An EEG works by measuring the fluctuations in voltage within the brain.  Voltage is defined on dictionary.com as electromotive force.  In other words, energy!  So that is confirmed – our thoughts are energy.  The same energy that Einstein stated made up everything.

So that then means the same principles that are proven for quantum physics (above) also apply to our thoughts:  Matter and energy can be converted into each other; All possibilities exist simultaneously and our observation or expectation determines state; Everything has an effect on everything else regardless of distance.

These “strange” phenomena happen not only in lab experiments with particles, but in our everyday lives!

The difference between our thoughts and particles is that we have free will over our thoughts.  We can think whatever we choose.  (See previous post.) We can direct and focus our thoughts and thus affect our environment and everything in it.  In other words, we can get things we want by thinking about them.

If the case is still not made that our thoughts create reality (my ego is very stubborn!), perhaps some more science will settle it.  Experiments starting in the 1970s at Princeton University showed that thoughts affected a random event generator (REG).  A random event generator is a device that produces completely random and unpredictable series of numbers.  When a person intentionally tried to direct the numbers, the sequences shifted and were significantly proven to not be by chance.  They also did experiments in various field settings (outside the lab) with activities comprised of large groups of people.  They found that the output generated by the REGs shifted based on events such as touchdowns in football games and peak moments in performances.  Thus, unintentional, as well as intentional, thoughts both affected the REGs.  This is a really neat experiment that shows the effect of our thoughts.

In Hidden Messages in Water, scientist Masaru Emoto wrote about the effects of words and thoughts on water.  When water is frozen, crystals form.  He found again and again that positive thoughts and words made the ice form beautiful crystals; negative ones made deformed crystals or no crystals at all.  (Check out the Water Crystal Photo Gallery for some fascinating pictures: masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html).  Not only does this support our case about our thoughts affecting our reality, but it also shows that thoughts affect our bodies because our bodies are 70% water!

Try some experiments for yourself to really seal the deal to your doubting ego.  I love the book, E-squared, by Pam Grout.  She’s got nine DIY energy/thought experiments that are not only convincing but fun!

How fascinating are quantum physics and these experiments!  In a nutshell, science says that our thoughts create material things and everything is possible.  The quantum physicist Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”  Even the genius Einstein deemed quantum entanglement theory as “spooky”.

Please share your ideas and comments about quantum science and creating your reality.  Or even better, examples of what you intentionally created with your thoughts!  Next post, we’ll talk specifically about our thoughts in terms of visualization and imagery.

Law of Attraction and Joy

I haven’t written much in the Keys to Joy blog about the Law of Attraction.  Possibly because it may rub some people the wrong way.  But I’m okay with that now; to each their own.  Also, because it was quite pervasive for awhile.  It seemed like everywhere you turned, the buzz phrase, “Law of Attraction”, was written or said.  I think it got “old” fast and not fully understood.  Regardless, Law of Attraction is a very important part of my life and belief system.  Although it is only recently that I fully realized the high level of its importance.

Firstly, the definition of Law of Attraction is “like attracts like”.  We attract things into our lives with our thoughts and feelings, whatever is a match comes to us.  This is an oversimplified definition as there are many factors to consider such as, ego (limited perspective), intentions, past lives, everything is energy, the overall (rather than specific) vibration (energy) of things, etc.  Please read anything by Esther and Jerry Hicks (Abraham) for very in-depth information.  But this definition will suffice for what I’d like to get across in this post.

I was in a slump.  Thing after thing was bad and getting worse.  It started with being slightly annoyed with someone.  Rather than work through this by figuring out what it was reflecting in myself or focusing on something else, I let it bring me down emotionally.  My annoyance turned to anger.  From there, I fumed and fumed.  Thoughts about all things I didn’t like in my life seemed to percolate in my mind. Then I felt hopeless and full of despair.  Then the “real” evidence began to appear.  I got swamped with work I did not like, co-workers were not respecting me, my body had new aches and pains.  Fortunately, I had been doing inner work long enough to stop and ask what was going on with me, rather than simply blaming others and circumstances.  I used the affirmation – Only good will come from this.  And then asked, what was the good?

That’s when I realized the good was seeing how the Law of Attraction works in a real life example.  It also helped me to fully understand that the crap I was experiencing wasn’t because I was bad or unworthy of good.  It’s simply the Law of Attraction.  Abraham (Esther Hicks) says Law of Attraction is a very fair friend.  It always gives you exactly what you are a vibrational match to.  This can be a harsh point to face when our lives aren’t as we want them to be. But, Law of Attraction is responding to our feelings and energy, not what we say we want.

If we say we want a million dollars but most of the time we complain about not having enough money or wonder how we are going to pay a bill or be bitter or jealous towards those with a lot of money, the Law of Attraction is “hearing” our overall feeling of complaining, jealousy and distrust.  Those feelings are not a match to abundance.  We may be saying or even thinking we want a million dollars but then we feel otherwise.  And those feelings are much stronger than our words.  Consider this, we may be saying one thing, but deep down we are actually feeling the opposite.  And remember Law of Attraction is responding to what underlies our words, not the words themselves.

Fortunately, we have the ability to focus our attention.  It is absolutely, 100% our decision what we focus our thoughts on (it may seem difficult, especially in certain situations, but it is just one of those things where practice is key).  The Universe “hears” whatever we are focused on.  Even if we say we do not want something.  In our negation, we are focused on it and so it comes to us.  Just like an internet search – suppose you type in, “not polar bears”.  What that search will yield is tons of information about polar bears.  It’s not going to bring up everything not about polar bears.  And so it is with your thoughts and the universe. If you’re saying not polar bears, you actually are thinking about polar bears even though you don’t want them in your life, and polar bears is what you will get.

But how do we not think about what we don’t want?  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make ourselves full-on stop thinking about something we are already thinking.  But by giving more attention to what we do want, we naturally flood out those unwanted thoughts.

We can also commit to paying more attention to what we are thinking. When we become more aware of our thoughts rather than just letting them fly haphazardly, we have the control to divert their direction.  To get started, put a reminder note – What am I thinking? – somewhere that you see often, or ask a friend to remind you every day, or ask the question during a routine activity so you link it to that daily activity, like showering, brushing your teeth, or eating dinner.

We can designate a specific time of day or activity where we focus on something specific we want.  First thing when we open our eyes, at noon, driving to work, waiting in line, during (muted) tv commercials are all opportunistic times to deliberately focus our minds on what we desire.

It has also been shown that those who practice meditation have an easier time focusing their thoughts.  Research has shown that the more we practice thinking a certain way, our neural pathways actually change.  So meditating will actually help us later to focus on what we want.  A couple of deep breaths with our attention on the breath is a type of meditation.  So no ego-excuses about not being able nor having time to meditate!

Remember to keep it fun! Or at least not a chore.  If focusing on what we want becomes chore-like, then our root feeling is negative which then cancels the entire focused thought process.

What fun, creative ways have you discovered that help you to keep focused on what you want?

Next post we’ll talk more about manifesting specific desires and the science behind it!

Psychology of Joy

I recently stumbled across some psychology terms that made a lot of sense for Keys to Joy.   These are concepts that I have learned through my own trial, error and personal experimentation. I love that the realizations that I pieced together on my own, from my own life, have been scientifically studied and “proven”.  It is nice to have that objective confirmation.  It also motivates me to keep on chugging!

These concepts are in relation to a field of psychology called positive psychology in which Dr. Martin Seligman is a pioneer.  He studied the concepts of Permanence, Pervasiveness, and Personalization in terms of Learned Optimism (which is also the title of his book).  Pessimists and optimists differ in the way they handle these 3 P’s.

If you are interested, check out his work in depth.  But in a nutshell and in my words, I’ve summarized the 3 P’s as such.  When faced with a challenge or unwanted circumstance, to be optimistic -or joyful- we must tell ourselves the following:

Permanence:  This is not permanent.  In other words, this too shall pass.

Pervasiveness:  This need not affect all areas of our lives.  Just because this one thing is not going as we want it, we are still happy in other areas of our lives.

Personalization:  This is not because we are unworthy or bad.

Awareness of these 3 P’s have saved me many times from falling into a terrible funk.  In retrospect, and possibly more importantly, I now clearly see that the times I did fall into funks were usually a result of believing it was an everlasting situation; letting it infringe upon the other areas of my life that had no relevance to that particular situation; and believing that my unworthiness, being not good enough, somehow was responsible for its occurrence. The 3 P’s definitely led me to the Pits!

An example of Permanence was, well, pretty much every time I got down I never could see the end of the tunnel.  My ego always had me thinking the bad stuff was forever.

An example of Pervasiveness was a time when I had a series of crappy work situations.  I completely lost perspective and I actually remember thinking these exact words:  ‘I can’t enjoy fall this year.’  My work life was so bad (or so I imagined), that I thought I did not have the right to find joy at all.  Even in nature and the weather!

Looking back, I can see how this doesn’t even make sense.  However, when I add the Personalization part, I can understand how this idea came to be.  When I believed the bad work situation was a result of my lack of worth or incompetence, then of course, how could I allow myself to find any joy when I believed I lacked value as a person.

The 3 P’s really work together and feed off of each other.  So, how do we keep the feeding frenzy in check?

First, realize this is the ego at work.  Permanence: The ego is not aware that everything changes and nothing is permanent.  The ego does not know about the soul and how Life goes on.  Pervasiveness: The little ego cannot get perspective to see that one thing does not affect everything. It can only see from its limited view.  Personalization:  The ego thinks everything is about ourselves and how great, or not great, we did.

The next step is pretty simple.  When faced with a negative or challenging situation, remind ourselves the crap isn’t forever.  Even if the situation does not change, the bad feeling will.  We can still enjoy other things in life amidst the unwanted circumstance.  And most importantly, remind ourselves that we are worthy and have value no matter what situation or circumstance confronts us (increasing self-worth posts).

Have the 3 P’s worked against you?  Realizing how can help you to not do it when the next challenge or negative circumstance arises.

Turning Debbie Downer on her Head

I recently have been aware that I say and think many “Debbie Downer” lines. Debbie Downer was a character on Saturday Night Live that always brought up a bad or negative point in a conversation among a group of people.  As I had been noticing my behavior in doing this, I began to look at it in depth.  The first thing I told myself was what I was saying were facts. These negative points are true.  For example, I told someone I had a craving for frozen yogurt.  He said go get some at lunch.  My reply was that it’s too far away.  And that was a fact!  It was too far for the time I had available.

Yes, it is true that Debbie Downer lines are facts. But they are looking at the negative.  My ego had me so tricked by this – had me believing that just because it was a fact, that being negative was inevitable and, sort of, necessary and that being positive was implausible.

It’s true – there are plenty of negative facts.  But there are plenty of positive things to focus on, as well.  It really is a matter of what our point of focus is on.

Debbie Downer lines can be about simple and insignificant subjects or meaningful topics.  They come in response to a comment from somebody or even in response to your own self.  Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about: My husband suggests to send flowers to a family member.  I immediately shoot it down saying that is a dumb idea because flowers just die!  Definitely a fact that flowers die.  Another example is wanting to go to Europe for a vacation.  It’s expensive.  Another fact, indeed.  A third example is that I want to write and publish a book.  Debbie says to that, there are already so many self-help books available.  True, thousands already exist.

The upside is that now that I clearly see this behavior in myself, I can change it.  When I catch myself saying or thinking a Debbie Downer line, I tell myself (my ego), yes that is a fact.  But, what is the positive statement about the topic?  In the fro-yo example, it would be that I can go after work or tomorrow.  So you sort of pivot from the negative fact to put a positive spin on the subject at hand.  This, of course, leaves us feeling good rather than down, which is the ultimate goal. In the sending flowers example, we could say flowers are so beautiful while they are alive; even though it is a short time, it is well worth it. The Europe downer could be if it is something we highly desire we can save up money for it; the experience will merit the money spent.  And about the book publishing, there can never be too many self-help books, all add value, people always want a new book to read.  And so on.  We can always find the positive side to a negative fact.

We first want to go from saying the Downer lines aloud to just having them in our thoughts.  Of course we don’t want them there either.  This is a process.  First we catch ourselves before we say them aloud.  We pivot in our minds and say only the positive.  We want to get to where we no longer put the negative facts out there for others to receive.  Eventually with some practice (and it will be quicker than you think!), we get to where we no longer even think the negative fact.  (But we don’t criticize ourselves when we do have them.  We are always kind to ourselves.) Simply pivoting with the positive spin will become a habit.

Another way to pivot would be to affirm the topic and then remind ourselves that anything is possible.  For instance, let’s use the Debbie Downer line of going to Europe is too expensive. Then we would pivot and say, But it certainly is possible that I could find a cheap airfare, or I could receive unexpected additional income, etc.  Then really feel the feeling of that being plausible.  Ending with the line, Anything is possible with God/Divine/Source (don’t get caught up on the label!), will certainly put Debbie in her place.

This is simply another way to deliberately be joyful.  As the Dalai Lama says in The Art of Happiness, “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions”.  In other words, we aren’t just automatically happy.  Our happiness is in our own hands.  Therefore, we must intentionally focus our minds and behaviors on joy.

Let’s be open to seeing where or when we might be a Debbie Downer.  Then turn Debbie upside down and put a positive spin on the negative fact.  We realize Debbie is just our ego, not our true selves.  And remember to laugh at the ridiculousness of Debbie!