I was looking again at a NYTimes article about turning negative thinkers into positive ones.  I liked that the article not only described the benefits of positive emotions, and the hazards of negative emotions, but then discussed strategies to foster positive thinking.

Negative thinking can affect the amygdyla, which can increase health problems.  Positive thinking can help heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and other biolological effects, in addition to psychological effects of a can-do attitude.

Quoting, "taking time to learn the skills to self-generate positive emotions can help us become healthier, more social, more resilient versions of ourselves".

Among strategies that the article suggests, to help nurture a positive attitude -

- Do good things for others.  I want to add, say positive and encouraging things to others, which is a way of good.  Find the good in your partners and other people, and express those good thoughts.

- Appreciate the things you do and places you go, such as nature.

- Build good relationships.  I remind myself, that can involve people, and the introvert in me needs to accept that.  Especially, build those relationships with people who have positive outlook.

- Learn new things.  I just, AGAIN, picked up my Spanish tutorials, and got through the first 4 lessons this week.  I have been feeling bored, and needed to find something to work on. 

- Accept yourself, including things that others, and yourself, consider flaws.  Failures are necessary for existence, and can lead to changes of direction that bring other successes.  Marketing and movies create bizarre expectations for physical appearance and stamina, and we need to step back and appreciate who we are.  Age is an accomplishment, not a failure.  What we consider disability, is something we adapt to or overcome.  Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

- Take negative events as ways to learn resilience.  Strategize to overcome adversity and use bad things to create good.

- Let go of things you can’t control and focus on the here-and-now.  The article states, "practice mindfulness".  I feel like that verges on psychobabble, but i appreciate the thought. 

- not in the article, sometimes we need to not read too much negativity, and avoid too much interaction with negative, pessimistic people, because they drag you down without helping to find a light at the end of the tunnel.  Then it's time to skip  that link, or read something else.   Sometimes we can't help but look at a train wreck, but it's usually better, to seek other excitement.  That includes our own thoughts - sometimes venting has a place, but sometimes the more negative things we express, the worse we can feel.  Sometimes, gallows humor has a place, but sometimes we have to actively re-route our thoughts to a happier place.

I have been through many challenges and hardships in my own life, and have also had successes that I could not have expected.  There has been much grief, and loneliness, and much comaraderie, friendship, and sometimes love.   It's hard to see the positive during tragedies and oppression, and bad events, but sometimes we can light a light and start to see things differently, and start working again on a better life. 

We only live once.  Life is short, and there is much tragedy.  There can also be much joy. 

"When you go home, fill the house with joy so that the light of it will stream out the windows and doors and illuminate even the darkness. It is just as easy that way as any in the world."

- Robert Green Ingersoll

and my favorite, always,

Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.”


- Robert Green Ingersoll

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Tom, that challenge was in the past. There were other problems along the way, and I followed the same procedure in all events. Weigh my options, pick one and work it. If it succeeds, then I move on with life. If Option A fails, I try Option B. 

My current challenge is I should sell my house that I bought as a condemned building and restored it to better than its former grandeur and created a garden that was so stunning, total strangers asked if they could see it. The house and garden have fallen into disrepair and I don't have the energy to bring it back to life. Especially since Cary died. In fact, I can't live there because of some of the physical barriers. For one, the doors in the house are not wide enough for my wheelchair, and I cannot get out of the house while in it. I would have to be carried out. 

I am living with my daughter and her husband and they treat me very well. I could not ask for a nicer place. They even had the greenhouse built for me. I haven't been in it since June 27 and don't know if I will get out of my wheelchair. 

Laura and Larry laugh a lot, they find joy in all that they do. Yesterday and today, they hired a dump truck to haul away all the slash from their forest that they did not bury or burn last spring. The slash was taken to a recycling center where they turn it into compost. It was a festive occasion, their children and grandchildren pitched in and they made it fun for everyone. Even the little ones got to participate. 

As my ability to function declines, we find ways to celebrate. The first time I was able to go from my bedroom to my bathroom by myself in my wheelchair created a time for celebration. I am trying to learn to wear a boot that takes the pressure off my foot and ankle. I walk like a monster. All I need is a scar across my face. 

We have fun!

Make up can make great scars!

I agree with everything you said.  Without going through the struggles in my own life, there have been plenty too.  Thank you for the references to learned optimism.  I hope others will happen in them and benefit from the information.

Daniel, I celebrate you every day! You persist to keep your sites positive and offer ideas to make that happen. I love your photos and they cheer me up whenever they appear. 

I feel with you as you experience Charlie's elder years knowing that is part of life. You are a faithful and caring friend to all of us. If we need information, you help us find it. You enjoy the victories in people's lives. 

Your humor is a bit subtle and I like it. Sometimes I have to think about it. 

I'm a pessimist, but I'll pass on learned optimism. Most of my dour moods come from political and climate news, not from my personal life.

I respect your take on this, Ruth. Here's how Nietzsche weighed in:

“In this sense the Dionysian man resembles Hamlet: both have once looked truly into the essence of things, they have gained knowledge, and nausea inhibits action; for their action could not change anything in the eternal nature of things; they feel it to be ridiculous or humiliating that they should be asked to set right a world that is out of joint. Knowledge kills action; action requires the veils of illusion: that is the doctrine of Hamlet, not that cheap wisdom of Jack the Dreamer who reflects too much and, as it were, from an excess of possibilities does not get around to action. Not reflection, no--true knowledge, an insight into the horrible truth, outweighs any motive for action, both in Hamlet and in the Dionysian man.

Oh Boy, Bertold, you opened an interesting idea. 

In Greek mythology, "Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of rational thinking and order, appealing to prudence and purity. On the other hand, Dionysus is the god of the irrationality and chaos, appealing to emotions and instincts.

Ruth, the personal Ruth, represents the "rational thinking and order, calling to prudence and purity."

Ruth, reacting to the chaos of politics, religion, and power, provides evidence and reason for her stand, as Apollo would do.

The chaos of politics, religion, and power, represents "the confusion of modern life, everything seems mixed up and contradictory, illogical and incoherent."  The disorder is the current version of the Dionysian.

We face the modern equivalent of Apollo and Dionysus, order and chaos. I exist in a teeter toter world that feels very familiar to me. 

Deciding to end my marriage I thought as an Apollonian, and I felt as a Dionysian.  

When I worked to complete my master's thesis, I was thinking as an Apollonian and felt like a Dionysian. (The fact is, my argument passed my committee, and I earned my master's degree.) 

When I struggled to earn my doctoral degree, I functioned as an Apollonian and felt overwhelmed as a Dionysian. (The fact is, my dissertation did not gain approval from my committee who were Catholic priests because "my research was biased. My dissertation was 'A Splendid Heresy'").

Faced with the realities of the tRump crowd, I realize there is a struggle ahead, and as long as I am alive, I will take whatever action I can to get those mean spirited, selfish, short sighted men and women out of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government. 

Thank you again, Ruth, for helping to maintain a steady eye on what is happening that I do not think is ethical and moral and keep focused on a preferred future. I could not be as active as I am without your wisdom!

My preferred future is one of living and dying in a country that guarantees the rights of every person, and each has access to opportunity.  

Ruth, I don't know what I would do without you! You bravely pour through all the details of politics and climate change and willingly share your information so that we can more intelligently respond to our Congress people. 

I don't experience you as a pessimist, I feel you as a realist. Let's get the facts about what is happening, make some decisions about what actions we can take to meet those challenges, and you respond to others' victories. 

We can't bury our heads in the sand and make believe everything is all right. We can't pretend we can do nothing; there are lots of things we can do, and you do them better than anyone I know.

Speaking from personal experience, I know people can change their state of mind to become more positive. Like any important change, it takes recognition that there is a problem, a willingness to work on the problem, and a desire to keep improving. The ability to accept constructive,, thoughtful advice helps too.

Changing one's state of mind also requires realistic alternative futures.

"Options, without awareness, yield one no freedom."

~ Ed Lindaman, author of Thinking in the Future Tense.

"And awareness, without options, is painful."

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