The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges
~ Martin Luther King Jr

Recently as I was driving I found myself yelling at every driver…too fast…too slow…you’re in my way…

You name it I was saying it and it wasn’t nice…and as I was getting revved up, I found this feeling staying with me all day and on the ride home.  I have an hour drive both ways to work, so it is not always a pleasant ride especially when you are so negative.  And then it hit me…my God I am so negative, but why?  What is going on?

The answer is life is going on and it can be down right nasty some days, but does it have to be??  So I sat myself down and pondered this…I was not liking how I was feeling and I had to change it quick or I was going to be in trouble…

Suddenly the light bulb went on and it hit me hard…I had gotten myself into a cycle of negativity, and the topper was I was feeding the negativity.  It really became clear when I was reading Brené Brown’s book, Gifts of Imperfection.  She talks about scarcity, and how from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep we just keep saying how we never have enough (fill in the blank)….time, money, sleep, looks and on and on and on…

How can you ever be happy if you are always thinking you never have enough….so how could I get out of this cycle?

First Frog in the Pond

This cycle of negativity feeds on itself and grows and before you know it you are a downright grouch.  And it gets worse.  This negativity feeds stress, and gets that ramped up so now your body starts to react with your mind.  For me it means lack of sleep which leads to migraines which leads to wanting comfort foods which leads to eating or binging on sugar and bad carbs which leads to body aches and pains not to mention weight gain which is exacerbated by the lack of sleep…well you can see how this can get uglier and uglier.

These physical issues then wreak havoc on my mental state.  I get depressed, moody and can even wind up in an emotional tailspin not to mention the intellectual shutdown that occurs…pretty sad, but I am finding this cycle is all too common in our hectic, crazy lives these days.

So enough of this negativity.  I have decided to stop feeding it and instead try to select some alternative emotions to practice.  After all feeding negativity is a bad habit, one we learn , and it can be quite situational at times.  You cannot ignore it for it will not just go away.  So I have to relearn…to practice staying in the moment and finding the good, wonderful things happening around me.  Being grateful for just waking up today, having a job, a reliable car, food, friends, family…let’s face it we are really blessed with so much.  Those blessings can sustain us when negativity tries to come calling.

The best way to step out of the cycle is to first identify when you are in it…once you can see it, you can step out of it.  Besides blessings, I use humor.  There is nothing better than a good belly laugh to redirect your mind and body.  So I try to infuse humor where I can.  Talking with trusted friends is a good way to help you stay out of the cycle too, but be careful because as we talk about the negativity, it can come back quicker than you know it.  Redirecting myself with hobbies or exercise has helped as well.  Going for walks, being in nature, working in my garden and even writing help me to deal with the negativity that comes my way.

With the change in weather I can be in nature more, revel in my garden although it is sparse in flower, it is none-the-less a positive place to be…this weekend I planted the early veggies in the garden…radish, lettuce, spinach, arugula, scallions, peas and kale.  And how wonderful is that to know that with some nice organic fertilizer, sun and time my efforts will be rewarded with plants growing from tiny seed, reaching above the soil toward the light and warmth rewarding me with sweet deliciousness.  I try and seek that light and warmth for myself.  Feeling the life around me as it feeds my soul.  New discoveries in the garden, new blooms to bring a smile.

It is a daily struggle to keep myself from feeding the negativity, but by putting all my energy into making the most of my day (recognizing my day, my life is enough) that is what keeps it at bay.  How do you stay out of the cycle?

Celebrate what you want to see more of.

~ Thomas J. Peters