I love talking about the brighter side of life – I like it when my mind oozes with serotonin (the happy hormone). That is good, right? The world has been so much crazier in the past six months that a state of happiness is, perhaps, the most warranted from nearly everyone these days. For some though, being happy is easier said than done. We are surrounded by so many uncertainties and negative thoughts that sometimes, even if you want to entertain happy thoughts you get distracted by the negativity.
I was listening to a podcast entitled “Deepak Chopra: Spiritual Solutions. ” A book by the same title was also published by Google Talks. The thesis of this book is that no problem can be solved at the level of awareness in which it was created. For Chopra, spirituality is primarily about consciousness, not about religious dogma or relying on the conventional notion of God. Don’t be mistaken; I am a person of steadfast faith in God. Faith is a major factor that has helped me rise-up through the difficult circumstances in my life. But it also dawned on me that not many can appreciate that level of faith so I thought I should share a different slant about what spiritual solution could mean. It may sound complicated and long but in reality, spiritual solution simply means “the journey towards self-awareness.” I am not going to talk about the journey itself, but I will share with you an important message that I hope will provide readers some tools and strategies on how to deal with negative thoughts, which in my experience is the single biggest source of anxiety in today’s modern life.
The message I would like to impart is this: You are not a prisoner of your own thought. You are an observer; you are the same observer of the thought that is jamming you all day. But since you are just an observer, you can control your thoughts. So how can you do that? Deepak Chopra gave a very simple strategy worth sharing – so simple that even elementary kids can do this. It’s called STOP:
S - Stop. Stop thinking about the negative thought.
T - Take three deep breaths. Smile everywhere in your body while doing the three deep breaths.
O - Observe what’s happening in your body as you take those three deep breaths and smiling.
P - Proceed with kindness and compassion.
After this, you can also tell yourself, next. That is, you can move from one thought to another. Or you may also shift your attention to your breathing. You may also ask yourself, “What’s the opposite of this thought?” If it is negative, you can think about the positive. What has helped me in the past, as well, is not only to think of the opposite but to think about encouraging possibilities that the current negative circumstances could bring. So, you got laid off from your job. But come to think of it, did it not create the much needed break that you’ve been longing for? Did it not give you the opportunity to take stock of what you truly are passionate about? Did it not make you realize that you have more skills than you thought? The key here is recognition (or awareness as some put it). You are not your thoughts; you are the observer of your thoughts. Don’t let the negative thoughts control you.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been bombarded by so many pleas on social media about being kind and compassionate. I’d like to end by quoting what Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker recently said: When we are kind or generous, when others are kind or generous to us and even when we witness an act of kindness or generosity those warm and fuzzies we feel are thanks to the oxytocin flowing through our bodies. The best part is, the more oxytocin we have, the more generous we become. So, do something nice for someone today and you’ll help make them a better person. Joy doesn’t just make us happy, it also gives us strength.