Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is kind of a built in feature of the Hindu religion, a turn key component offered by the Hindu Gods, so to speak.

Growing up in India, my parents were not very demonstrative, but they taught me something more precious, the value of resilience. They taught me that strength comes from within.

As a teenager I absorbed Ancient Hindu texts such as Bhagavad Gita. What drew me to the scriptures was the Sanskrit language, sublimely beautiful and melodic in recitation. Is there a language more suited to calligraphy?

Positive Thinking - Krishna Arjuna in Gita

The Gita is a dialogue between the Indian Prince Arjuna and Lord Krishna in the battle field. The relevance of Gita lies in the timeless principles covered in this 18 chapter long conversation between the master (the Lord) and his disciple (the Prince).

The content of the dialogue holds universal appeal especially in this modern day when we are searching for purpose in our lives outside of our jobs and our families.

Arjuna (one of the bravest warriors in any mythology) is conflicted by the purpose of war. He is overcome with fear, guilt, and grief.

He has lost all motivation to lead his troops. Yet, the battle must be fought to decide the fate of Good vs. Evil.

Oh, dear reader, I wish you could read this beautiful dialogue in its entirety in Sanskrit, that most evocative of all ancient languages! But fear not, the translation is just as moving!

Positive Thinking

The Lord counsels Arjuna and remotivates by him speaking of the inevitability of birth and death. He assures Arjuna of the immortality of human spirit, and reaffirms the need for performance of Arjuna’s Dharma (duty).

We have to uplift ourselves through our own efforts by purifying our mind. Purity of thought can enlighten us, while impure thoughts will only cause us to regress. We have the power to be our own friend or the folly to become our own enemy. ~ The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Verse 5.

If a mighty warrior can be become so awash in grief and negative feelings that he is unable to perform his duty, what is to be said of us mere mortals fighting our daily battles?

By exploring many life experiences, and by emphasizing Action, Renunciation, Power of Self, Knowledge and Wisdom, Lord Krishna manages to clear the barriers in Arjuna’s mind. The Lord finally succeeds in helping Arjuna rediscover his emotional balance and power.

(Spoiler Alert! Arjuna triumphs; Good wins the battle against Evil.)

There is much that we can all learn from the Gita. It’s implicit message preaches positive thinking and self empowerment by gaining mastery of our mind. There is so much good in these ancient scriptures!

Although I absorbed these teachings at an early age, it is just within the last few years that I have actualized them into a deliberate practice.

The Gita cautions us that in order to guard the fortress of our mind, we must choose to protect its highest interests – values and goals.

Imagine your mind to be a view screen that is assimilating information from the outside world and influencing your actions. Now imagine flooding those screens with images of health, strength and abundance.

Wouldn’t this activity inspire you to behave consistently with those images?

There has been a lot of hype about the law of attraction and about manifesting your desires by asking, believing and receiving.

I believe the Law of Attraction holds credence, but in order to maximize any benefits from the LOA, I believe that you must make some major shifts in your behavior.

First of all, change begins when you recognize the need for it, when your current reality – be it your health, relationship or career – needs to change. The desire for change must be driven by internal motivation. You must commit whole heartedly to change.

Secondly, you must recognize that words have tremendous power. They pervade our consciousness; they influence our life and shape our futures. By cherry picking the words we choose to reflect our reality back to ourselves, we can mold our thoughts and restructure the patterns within our brains. When you desire to change your situation, you must commit to changing your vocabulary.

As you adjust your work and your actions to represent your goals; you must also adjust your thoughts and your words to represent your dreams and desires.

Consider these 10 positive thinking actions to be a game plan towards achieving a more positive outlook in life. When you take these small daily steps you will begin to see profound, long-term, lasting changes in all areas of your life. You will begin to unfold your wildest dreams.

1) Read positive quotes

If positive thinking were energy, quotes would be a quick cup of coffee that serves up an instant boost of positivity.

I collect my favorite quotes on this website. I even have a page dedicated to the power of quotes!

I like to put Post-It notes or cards on my desk, my kitchen cabinets and my kids rooms. I keep a stash of fortune cookie messages in my drawer. When I come across an old quote or message, it perks me up like a shot of espresso.

I love Mike Dooley’s Notes from the Universe from TUT.com. My day is made when I receive a fun message like this! May the odds be ever in my (and your) favor!

Note from the Universe - Positive Thinking

2) Sing or Dance

I dare you to think negative thoughts when you are listening to a great song! I create playlists to set the mood for various activities – soulful Indian ballads (Mohammed Rafi) for cooking, Hip-hop and Pop for working out and songs with great lyrics for introspection.

Music is my cue and often my reward to push myself through my tasks. Who would turn down 5 minutes of crazy dancing? Not me! Song and dance wash away my stress and leave me feeling lighter.

3) Meditate Daily

I have written about the power of meditation. You don’t need to join an expensive gym to meditate or do yoga. You can start a daily practice in the comfort of your own home. In fact I recommend the more unusual methods of meditation. My favorite is walking meditation and Zentangle.

Meditation and Yoga take your focus away from your any negative thoughts and brings your attention to your breath. Only the present moment counts. In this present moment you can change anything, especially your attitude.

4) Create Something

When my thoughts start straying away from the road of positivity, I get busy creating.

I reach for a notepad, for my color pencils or some cardstock. Creating something – a poem, a drawing, a card – shifts attention from my thoughts to my actions.

Rock Star Teacher - Positive ThinkingAs a bonus, I have something lovely to offer as a gift to a friend, a teacher or a family member!

Holiday Cards - Positive Thinking

5) Chant Hymns

It is not fashionable these days to speak of God. Science appears to have supplanted organized religion in some ways. This is not the post to explore whether lack of faith is fracturing our society, although I would tremendously enjoy such a theosophical discussion.

But, whether or not religion has any value in modern society, spirituality certainly does.

I feel very fortunate to have been raised in a scientific household that practiced Hinduism. Hymns that I learned as a child, the Gita included, are firmly rooted in my muscle memory. This post was inspired by a recent session of chanting the Gita during my meditation practice.

You may wish to chant passages from the Bible or the Koran as your positivity ritual. Or you may decide to take a leaf from my Drama Director’s book and memorize an inspiring poem or monologue. No matter what you choose to chant or recite, this is a great positive thinking habit.

6) Give Back

One way to keep positive thoughts at the forefront of your mind is to give back. Donate items, food or money to the needy. Donate your time and money to a worthy cause.

I am passionate about education. I volunteer at my children’s schools on a regular basis. Knowing that I am making a small difference in the life of a few people, makes a huge difference in my attitude.

7) Find Beauty

Albert Einstein famously proclaimed, ‘The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”

When I soak in the beauty in this universe, I have no doubt in my mind that it is a friendly one. Mountains, lakes, gardens and parks, there is abundant evidence of the infinite variety and munificence of Mother Nature. The grandest of all seasons, Fall, is Mother Nature’s loveliest smile.

Find Beauty - Positive Thinking

It’s easy to feel positive when you let yourself be moved by the beauty around you. Beauty moves me to write poetry and to draw. If you don’t have time for anything else, spend a few minutes communing with nature every day!

8) Be Grateful

Being grateful makes you appreciate what you already have. Studies confirm that feeling gratitude for your small and big wins primes your brain to seek similar experiences.

Today I am grateful for: My children, my health, my husband’s support and his job (that pays our bills while I shift to a different career), my BFF, my family, and my ability to be creative.

9) Designate a Cheerleader

Performers and athletes have fans. Sports teams have cheerleaders. Surrounding yourself with positive people alone is not enough. Find friends and colleagues who can be your cheerleaders (and pay it forward).

My BFF is my No.1 cheerleader. She is willing to lend a listening ear whenever I need her. She puts things into perspective and nips any negative thinking in the bud.

We often send each other a jolt of positivity a few times a week – a thought provoking article, an inspiring TED video or a random quote. This connection recharges my thoughts and realigns my mindset.

10) Maintain a Journal

It’s easy to get stuck in your habits; to dwell on past mistakes; to wish for a life other than the one you have been given. One of the reasons I maintain this blog is because I was that person; the one who is negative even when things are going well for her. I was unhappy because I hadn’t achieved a level of success that I thought was expected of me.

Slowly it dawned on me that I was living someone else’s life and that was the cause of my unhappiness. I also learnt more about who I am and how I can serve the world through my few talents.

Many teachers (Julia Cameron, Martha Beck), authors (Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson) and artists (Twyla Tharp, Andy Warhol) have written about the power of journaling. Their journals played a significant role in their act of self-exploration.

I keep a journal so that I can document my journey. A quick perusal of my diary reveals how far I have come within the last decade. Not just the tone but even the focus of the entries has shifted significantly over the years. It reassures me that there is hope for me yet. :) If I can change my thinking and become a more self-actualized person so can you!

Write down your thoughts and your experiences for a month. Don’t read your journal for a few weeks. See how your thoughts change once you become more aware of them.

These are a few ways to integrate positive thinking habits into your life. Celebrate your progress and victories along the way; learn from the negative moments and disappointments; build a strong support system.

No matter what your life’s circumstances, you are the master of your thoughts. Remember, every day you choose to think positively, you are on your way to a brighter, more positive world.

I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes and poems about positive thinking.

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.

— Chinese Proverb

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

— John Milton

The past has no power over the present moment.

— Eckhart Tolle

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

— Helen Keller

It is no use to grumble and complain;
It’s just as cheap and easy to rejoice;
When God sorts out the weather and sends rain -
Why, rain’s my choice.

— James Whitcomb Riley

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

— Voltaire

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.

— Rabindranath Tagore

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.

— Edith Wharton

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

— Mahatma Gandhi

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

— Anais Nin

We plant seeds that will flower as results in our lives, so best to remove the weeds of anger, avarice, envy and doubt, that peace and abundance may manifest for all.

— Dorothy Day

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

— Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning

What matters is not so much the content of a person’s beliefs / religions but whether or not they led to personal transformation of a positive kind.

— William James