How I Accidentally Stumbled Upon Good Vibes (and Three Proven Ways You Can Tap Into Yours)
Updated: Feb 24, 2020
It's easier than you think to turn negatives into positives.
I could hear the lovely late springtime chirping of birds just outside. The warm buttery sunshine streamed through the window and onto my cheeks like a gentle morning kiss. Slowly, my eyes fluttered open. I smiled at the beauty of the day and indulged in a long, luxurious stretch. I rolled over in my bed, contemplating just a few more minutes of blissful sleep. There on my pillow, also indulging in a stretch, was the grossest spider I’ve ever seen.
What would you do?
I jumped out of bed, of course, and briskly wiped the spider breath off my face, arms, and legs. I yanked off my pajamas, worried that the spider might have a frisky mate, or might have…laid eggs…or whatever method spiders use to have babies… in a warm, cozy place. I found the biggest, heaviest shoe I could find and beat the spider until all that remained were its basic elements of carbon, oxygen, and water atoms. I gathered up all of my bedding, and my infested pajamas, and sprinted to the laundry room before they could “get me”. I threw the whole mess in the washer with a cup of soap, two cups of bleach, and the hot water taps on full. And then I scrubbed myself raw in the shower.
“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” ~ Mark Twain
Gone and completely forgotten was my “good morning” mood brought on by sunshine and birds. As I was in the shower contemplating calling the exterminator, I had an epiphany. I was washing my hair and temporarily got lost in the wonderful smell of my very expensive shampoo. I noticed my mind letting go of the horror of the (admittedly really small) spider and returning to the beautiful day. I washed my hair a second time, just for the smell of it, and fell into a sort of… zen mindset. I concentrated only on that moment, and how delightful the water felt as it made its way in rivulets down my warm skin. With my eyes closed, it was easy to allow myself to drift to a peaceful place.
Eventually, I started thinking of all that I would accomplish on this lovely day. I dried off, and, after a perfunctory glance around my bedroom for any lingering spiders, decided to concentrate on good things instead. I put on my favorite pair of pants — we all have a pair — the ones that make me feel skinny. I call them my ‘happy pants.’ I also have a go-to shirt when I want to feel my best, so I threw that on too.
As you might have guessed, this post is about the power of positive thinking. It’s not just a feel-good saying — it has scientific merit, as shown in this study. Scientists have known for years that things that pose a threat to our well-being cause us to narrow our focus. That trusty old ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, and our only thought is survival. But positive thoughts tend to have just the opposite effect of negative or threatening thoughts. Rather than close our minds, they expand our minds, which can prove to be very beneficial, both short-term and in the long run. Positive thoughts often seem just out of reach, but they are there for the taking, and relatively easy to access.
Here are three proven ways to get your mind focused on good things.
1. Let’s talk about meditation. You’ve heard about it, of course. Maybe you’re like many people who think meditation sounds sort of… well, woo woo. The picture you conjure when you hear the word might be like mine was, initially — a comical caricature of some 1969 hippy, twisted like a pretzel and floating three feet off the ground while eating dandelions. I was wrong. And, if your mind goes where mine did, you are too. Don’t be too quick to dismiss this peaceful practice, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Research shows that mindfulness meditation can be as effective as medication in combatting depression. Amazingly, meditation lowers the activity in the stress response center of the brain, the amygdala. There are at least a godzillion apps you can download to help you learn to practice meditation, not to mention books, YouTube videos — you get it. Get yourself a pillow. Sit ya butt down. Chill. Om.
2. Consider kindness. There is a wealth of research confirming that kindness not only makes the recipient feel good; it also does amazing things for the giver. You see, performing acts of kindness repetitively can change our brains to be more positive. Positive thinking, in turn, leads to more creativity and greater productivity, and these positive attributes help us to feel that we’re experiencing a greater quality of life. Talk about an upward spiral! Here’s an even bigger plus: kindness is contagious. When we witness someone doing a kind deed, we want to emulate that; one act of kindness can create a ripple effect. You may never know how much good your kind act might lead to. What a way to go viral!
3. Don’t forget to express gratitude. By this, I don’t necessarily mean you have to go tell someone the things you’re grateful for. This exercise can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to think about the good things in your life, or journaling about them a few times a week. When we’re grateful, there’s a shift in our focus, from negative thoughts to positive. It’s very difficult to maintain negative emotions when you’re actively looking for and appreciating the beauty and goodness in life all around you. There is significant research that shows that counting one’s blessings can result in reduced inflammation, better sleep quality, and countless other good things. Additionally, practicing gratitude puts us in a mindset to find more things to be grateful for, which, in turn, compounds our positive feelings. What a lovely cycle!
Give these things a try, and see for yourself if the negativity that plagues you doesn’t evaporate like the morning mist. With continued practice, positive thoughts and feelings — good vibes — will begin flowing through you, whether you’re wearing your happy pants or not.
“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl