If you have been following Lula Vida for a bit, you know I am all about consciously engaging in life. When we are tuned in to ourselves and others, we have the opportunity to lift everyone up and make the world a better place, even if it’s just one tiny choice or action at a time! Here are three phrases that boost positive thinking and help me stay present.
This too shall pass.
Nothing in life is permanent. Nothing! Nothing endures. Nature examples are easy for illustrating this phrase and applicable for meditating on. Plants grow from tiny seedlings into tall trees that eventually become old and die. Planets are formed, last billions of years, and are eventually destroyed, getting sucked into their suns by gravity.
When we say “this too shall pass,” we don’t have to get all nihilistic, but we can remember to take it easy and go with the flow because at some point the moment we are in will be over. Even though an ordeal may feel like it could last infinitely, we know this isn’t true. All things are constantly in flux, constantly changing. Time will move on. We will probably completely forget the stress and the pain, or at least the stress and pain will probably subside.
For a more relatable human event, pregnancy is a fine example. If all goes well, in nine months, after the hassle of strange body transformations, tons of doctors appointments, and the pain of actually giving birth, pregnancy is over. Done! Margaritas are available to us again! And we don’t have to relive that experience unless we go for round two, which will also pass again in time. Same can be said for an argument with a brother, a shitty day at work, or a knee surgery. Time will pass and things won’t be so bad (and eventually we will die and then all our worries will be over, so there’s that…)
Act the way I want to feel.
This phrase is hijacked from The Happiness Project and it totally works. Once you test out this positivity-inducing phrase, you will be a believer. You could also use this phrase interchangeably with “be the change,” but I feel “act the way” is an easier call to action. As sentient beings, the majority of the time, we have the option to make choices. We make a thousand decisions every day; what food to eat for breakfast, what route to take home during rush hour, what vacation to take six months from now, how much to save for retirement, whether to paint our toenails, etc.
We can broadly apply these same decision making skills to our emotions. We can choose to be happy or energetic or loving, and by consciously engaging in that choice, change our actions to reflect that emotion. Cause and effect. It’s like going to the gym. Oftentimes we feel lethargic before we get there, but once we actually start lifting weights, we realize we have more energy and strength in ourselves than we initially thought! We can decide to cheerfully wash the dishes or write the report instead of making the work drudgery. Our positive efforts will probably turn out better results. As a side effect, not only will our mood be lifted, we might boost the mood of other people as well.
Sometimes, if just telling ourselves to take a different perspective doesn’t work, it often helps to remove ourselves from whatever space we are in for a bit, physically or mentally. Go for a walk, take a nap, hop in the shower. If you can’t get away, refer back up to “this too shall pass.” A really cool and effective Buddhist mediation technique is to think of our thoughts and emotions as clouds passing across a clear blue sky. Know that you can make the decision to let the bad juju pass. Try not to harp on it. Then go back and act the way you want to feel again.
Make happy memories.
We’ve already established that every moment is fleeting. No two moments will ever be identical. We might encounter the same situation again, but the setting or participants might be a little different. The point of this phrase is to remind ourselves to go into each situation with a fresh attitude in order to put a positive spin on things and build up happy memories… or YOLO…
Maybe we were preoccupied when our nephew wanted to go for a walk with us, so we opted out. Maybe this caused him to stop asking us to take walks with him. Our nephew only has one childhood, and in a few years he might be embarrassed (for whatever reason) to take walks with his aunt. We will have missed the chance to appreciate our time together and make that lasting connection with him.
Maybe we were hangry when we took that trip to the museum. That museum exhibit that we really wanted to see might never return to our city. Maybe if we were in “make happy memories mode,” present and engaged in the moment, the exhibit would have inspired some of our own great work and completely changed the direction of our lives. Or maybe it would have made for a very awesome, memorable date night! Who knows!?
The point here is to have fun!
When we reflect back on our lives, we want to see a timeline that is robust, exciting, happy, fulfilling. We don’t want to look back with regret on missed opportunities to share love, compassion, wonder, and joy. We have endless reasons to cherish the time we are alive. We can act the way we want to feel in order to make happy memories for ourselves and our loved ones. After all, memories are all that we’ll have left because this too shall pass…
If you liked this post, you might also like Magical Thinking for a Bullish Life.