I woke up this morning thinking about positivity.
Boy, that beats the hell out of what I used to think about when I woke up in the morning.
Back around the first of January, I woke up one day with what can only be described as a sense of impending doom. My chest was tight; heart was POUNDING; and I couldn’t catch my breath.
Something was telling me I needed to get out of bed — now!!!
Turned out, I was having a full-blown panic attack.
I was used to a certain amount of low-level anxiety, and also used to having heart palpitations now and then. Sometimes, a shot of adrenaline would just kick in for whatever reason and my heart rate would start flying. Relax a little bit, take a few slow, deep breaths, and it would click back into a normal pace.
Not this time.
This attack lasted from about 7 a.m. to 3 in the afternoon. Nothing I tried would stop it.
Pretty damn scary.
Anyway, this went on for a while — never as severe or long-lasting as that first one — and that’s why I started a new morning routine. I finally decided that it must have been stress over the past two years that just built up and finally spilled over. Something had to give.
Having a positive mindset and an attitude of gratitude is everything now. I’ve been working on it for 73 days, and it really works. Most of my life, I never knew that I could actually change the way my mind works.
Re-train my brain.
I’ve learned that our mindset — positive and/or negative thinking habits — causes actual physical changes in our body and our brain. Think about a lie detector machine and how that works. It detects physical reactions in the body to what the person is thinking about.
It’s pretty common knowledge that stress is a killer. Occasional stress is part of life, but when it becomes chronic, all kinds of bad things can happen.
Negative thinking causes a lot of stress.
It is hard to explain, but negative thoughts carve out actual pathways in the brain and when enough of those pathways are created, then negative thinking becomes the default way the brain operates. Negative thinking becomes … automatic.
The good news is, a negative mindset — habitual negative thinking — can be changed.
There’s lots of scientific information out there about how to change your brain, but since I’m not a scientist, I’ll keep it simple.
One scientific term I do understand well enough to explain is “mindfulness.”
You have to become aware of your negative thoughts and learn how to get rid of them. Easier said than done, yes, but it’s really not that hard. Just takes practice.
Negative thoughts are always going to come in. That’s just natural. But when that happens, you just get rid of them. Let it go. Don’t let that negative thought sink in and take root. I heard a really cool way to turn a negative thought or statement into a positive one:
Add the word “yet” to the end of it.
“I can’t do that — yet.”
One way I’m re-training my brain to a more positive mindset is by feeding it positivity.
I start as soon as I wake up, listening to positive and inspirational messages. I listen to several different ones, and then I do some sort of positive guided meditation.
It’s all about training the brain, the same way you train the body: repetition, consistency.
And guess what?
It really works.
Even now, as I’m sitting here writing this blog post, my mind started to wander over to next week and some things that are coming up, and negative thoughts started knocking on the door.
I know they’re there, but I don’t have to listen.
I can ignore them and tell them to go away.
Not easy, but simple.
And it gets easier with practice.