This month, LinkedIn posed the question, Think back to the best -- or worst -- piece of advice you've ever followed. What did you learn from it? Would you follow that advice again?
I have definitely heard my fair share of advice. I read, listen to podcasts, surround myself with motivated, driven people, so I feel like my brain and heart are flooded with "advice" all the time. It can get overwhelming.
Last month however, a friend shared something so simple, but so easily forgotten. She asked, "What are the two emotions that rid us of negativity, no matter what?" "Well," I thought to myself, "that's easy. Positivity obviously will wash away the negativity, and well, I guess, happiness?" I thought I was keeping it simple, but oddly enough, I inevitably had complicated things. You should not have to be happy all the time, or full of non-stop positivity in order to wrestle "the brain's natural tendency to think negatively." In fact, all it takes is
gratitude and humor.
Now this was some advice I could run with. I was blown away by the simplicity of it. Gratitude and humor are two emotions I already feel, so could there be a new found freedom in consciously applying them?
As I began writing this from the exit row, aisle seat on (another) plane, all I could say was, "Yes, thank you, more please." Exit row, aisle? With my man in the exit row aisle across from me? I'll say it again, "YES THANK YOU MORE PLEASE!"
Let's back up a little though. The morning began as a stressful one. I did not wake up when I intended to, so needless to say I was doing my "headless chicken" act as I frantically prepped the kitty to stay with my parents for a week, yelled at my partner to water the plants, squeezed in a quick shower and threw some swimsuits in a bag for our international flight that was departing in, well, just over two hours. As my breath began to shorten and the sweat beads formed on my temples, and I was so sure that all was going wrong and we were going to miss our flight, I stopped. Reframed. Scooped up the thoughts running through my head and laid them out to be examined. I held a figurative mirror up to my face and gave myself a little "slap in the face."
What on earth did I have to be upset about? Stressed about? Worried about? Angry about? I was about to hop on a plane to the beaches of the Dominican Republic! "Get a hold of yourself, Rachel" I yelled internally!
I began to instead follow the aforementioned advice and focus on what I was grateful for -- from a safe ride to the airport, to the opportunity to travel, all the way to the breath in my lungs. And I could FEEL the energy shift. I laughed at myself for allowing myself to reach the "headless chicken" phase I've been so accustomed to for so long. And very quickly, I was no longer fighting with the morning, and instead, things were just flowing. The morning seemed to continue to run more smoothly with each passing moment. By the time we reached the check-in counter, I was cool, calm and collected. And to top it off, NO LINE! The disgruntled ticket agent couldn't slow this girl down. I think I even cracked a smile from her. :)
What we focus on expands...
While the advice above has stuck with me, and I will continue to practice gratitude and humor, I wanted to delve deeper into the idea of "ridding ourselves of negativity." Negativity is not a bad thing per say, but it's how you frame it. We can learn a lot about the light when we allow ourselves to be engulfed in the darkness. By no means is it easy; the dark is very scary, we've been taught to fear the dark since childhood.
But what if in the darkness is where we find our brightest light?
In exploring this question, I came across the concept of Negativity Wisdom. Author Deanna Willmon is combatting the idea that all negativity is bad. She believes it is all in how we frame the negative thoughts, and has found quite a bit of research to back it up. She herself writes about the lessons to be learned from the inherent negativity, and the reason the glass half full isn't the right approach. There is so much power in being willing to grab the bull by the horns and ride it out to find out what there is to learn as you tumble through the air and land flat on your back in the dust. But, it's definitely more fun if you're laughing all the while. ;)
Who we surround ourselves with MATTERS
I recently saw a friend post this status:
This immediately got me laughing. And then thinking. But it's true. Where are they? I've found some of them, but I know there are more out there. Every single one of us has a chance to be full, overflowing, but we sometimes get drained by the outside world, experiences, people, so what can you do? Change your perspective. Change your framing. Go ahead, list some things in the comments below that you are grateful for. Anything! Simply having the chance to wake up today will begin to fill your cup. I discovered something magical when I began to live from a mindset of abundance instead of scarcity. The more I gave, the more space there was to receive, and the cycle continues for all of us this way. When we all share, we all have the opportunity to live in complete abundance.
I want you to play with me for a moment. Wherever you are, at your desk, in your room, on the subway, be still. Take a deep breath, counting to four on the inhale, then hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four. Do this four times. Now, if you are comfortable enough where you are, close your eyes. I want you to think of a happy thought. Anything. It can be the perfect PB&J sandwich you just took a bite of on your lunch break with just the right ratio of peanut butter to jelly. It can be the first time you experienced something completely new and foreign...the ocean waves and sand between your toes, the wind on your face as you road your first roller coaster. This happy thought can be as simple as the sound of a child's laugh you heard on your walk down the hall today. Whatever this moment is, think on it. Re-experience it. Relive it. And as you do so, SMILE. This is important, because smiling actually changes your brain. Hold this smile for a moment or two. Inhale it. Exhale it. If you had your eyes closed, go ahead and open them. See if you can hold this smile for a bit longer, long enough to share it with someone. Not because you have to, but because you want to, and it's good for you.
Practice this anytime you like. Share it with others. Throw in the comments section if you enjoyed it!
Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie Birch, Rachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!
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