Another New Year has your mind brimming with "if only" thoughts about how your life should be better. This negative self-talk usually leads you to making a pledge to tone, tuck or take home more money in 2008. But what if all you need to lead your best possible life this coming year is an attitude adjustment?
1. Tone-Down Negative Talk: The words you speak may be dragging you down. Just consider Lisa, a 36 year old single woman who had a hard time keeping friends until her she learned to replace words like "ughh" and "oy" with such positive terms as "hmmm" and "ahh." She had no idea how off-putting her subconscious but audible initial reactions were to others.
According to expert Susan Weiss Berry, our outside "ughh and oys" are merely reflections of our inside "ughhs and oys." What if we allowed our snippy inside voice to gripe about how unworthy we (or others) were- how fat, fashion-challenged, saggy/baggy, etc, AND instead of reacting with conditioned gasps, groans or resistance, we simply relaxed, noted these thoughts with neutral "reallys?" or "so whats!" and then let them go?
2. Shift Perceptions: Negative experiences, perceptions or moods can always be "reframed" in a way that will empower, motivate and excite you. To trade in the "woe is me" attitude, focus less on what is wrong (problems, weaknesses and the impossible) and more on what is right (opportunities, strengths, possibilities). This way, each time you start to brood or feel down you can turn it around in your head.
3. Skip the All or Nothing Attitude: Let's face it -- no one's life is ever perfect. Chances are there will be a time or two when something in your life goes awry. Don't let minor setbacks turn into an "I give up" fit. Get back on track by finding alternate ways to savor your singleness.
4. Count your Yeses: Many individuals condition themselves to say no to invitations and other potentially exciting propositions. In order to grow, improve and extend yourself, it is helpful to become amenable to experiences beyond your routine. The lesson here? Practice using words like "sure," "okay" and "why not," instead of automatically reacting negatively.
According to Zen teacher and author Cheri Huber, we are conditioned to think that if we were only a little better in some way, we would be happy. But, Huber says, no amount of self-punishment will ever make us happy or bring us control over life's problems. The help we are looking for is really found in self-acceptance and kindness toward ourselves. Compassionate self-discipline, the will to take positive steps in life, is found through nothing other than being present. If we simply cultivate our ability to pay attention and focus on what is here in this moment, our experience can be authentic, awake, honest and joyful.
We all tend to move in and out of various states of mind throughout the day. Practice these mindfulness techniques regularly and you will become the master of your moods rather than a servant to them.