So after my post about haters I promised to write a blog post about how I got off the cycle of negativity. The problem is that it took me a long time and a lot of hard work to do it (both the blog post and ending the cycle of negativity). Consequently, the blog post kept getting longer and longer and longer.
First of all though, let me tell you that I used to be a super negative person. I was easily irritated or angry and hated on a lot of folks. If you had met me about 4-5 years ago you might have noticed that it wasn’t pretty and I was fairly unhappy. So, one day I realized how I felt and I decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was read all those goofy stupid self-help books about being a better me, or finding my path to enlightenment, meditation for dummies, seven secrets for happier people, etc… and even those irritated me. But really, one day I just decided to take a more serious role in changing my perspective on everything. After I made that decision it all became easy.
If you want to know what worked for me, this is my list. Feel free to create your own.
I used to work in a group home and when one of the kids acted out and retaliated against another kid or said or did something mean, they would just say, “I can’t help it, that’s just way I am.” This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. In fact, I would argue that the only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions. You can either feel good or feel bad. It’s a choice. If you’re feeling mad or upset or anything, simply choose to feel good. It sounds stupidly easy but it’s hard at first. Keep practicing, soon you’ll get it.
Change your Inner Monologue
I think this was the hardest thing to change. It’s just so easy to hear that kid screaming in the restaurant, or have that horribly bad driver in front of you, or read that guy’s stupid comment on your blog post, and think terrible thoughts about them in a split second. It happens without even thinking. But, you can take a couple of seconds or minutes after that thought and try to realize that maybe there are other things going on in their lives, that they’re not happy, or just take a deep breath, smile and move on.
Take a Deep Breath
That leads me to taking a deep breath. This was the most valuable lesson I ever learned. I taught martial arts for about 6 years and I worked for a guy who made us all take a deep breath as we walked through the door to work. As we exhaled that breath we visualized letting go of everything that happened to us up until that point in time. As we got better at it, we learned to separate what happens at home with what happens at work. Eventually, we started doing it when we went home so we didn’t take work with us. You could basically do this anytime you go anywhere so nothing that bothers you follows you anywhere.
Wear a Reminder
I’ve always had something on my wrist. It’s usually a band of some kind and it has been a variety of things from wristbands to watches to pieces of string or a hemp bracelet. Whatever it is it’s meant to be completely symbolic. It’s just a reminder to be the person I want to be, which is a happier person. I’ve been thinking about getting it as a tattoo.
I don’t think I need to explain this. But fall in love. Fall in love a hundred times a day.
Change your Routine
My routine was really getting me down once. There were a bunch of things I did that got me irritated throughout the day. I would watch TV and the commercials would irritate me but every night I watched TV anyway. I would read the news online and the comments would irritate me, but I would read the comments anyway. It goes on and on. Anyway, stop doing the crap that makes you mad.
Make a routine
How about a new routine? I started reading things that made me happier, watching movies instead of TV, finding websites that had funnier comments, etc… This is real easy. Things like the interwebs or television or books or whatever are either super funny or they’re super irritating. The good thing is that you can choose which experience you want to have.
Morning Dance Party
Every morning, just dance. I highly recommend the Jackson 5 channel on Pandora. It’s pretty epic.
In the movie Empire Records, Lucas said to Warren (I know his name isn’t Warren) “You know, someone like you needs to diminish their criminal impulses, not magnify them. Maybe some jazz or some classical.” The same holds true for everyone. If you want to diminish your negative impulses, check your music selection. Even Rob in High Fidelity asked the eternal question – “Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” Either way, play whatever makes you happy. I know JP Porcarro will tell you to party to some Skrillex but that’s nto for everyone either. Find what makes you happy.
Negativity Begets negativity
It gets real easy to be negative if you’re around negative haters. It’s real easy to fall back into that cycle. If you know some negative folks, drop them like the bad habit they are. This is probably the hardest thing. I was easy for me because I moved, but not everyone can be that lucky but if you need to move that is always a viable option.
Give things to people
About three years ago, Julie Strange sent me a button with a guitar on it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It’s strange (no pun intended) how much the little things like that can change your perspective for the whole year. It really made me feel good for no particular reason except that someone somewhere thought about me at some point. I still have that button on my boat. Ever since then, I’ve tried to make it a point to give things to random people for no reason and that makes me happy.
Write some Letters
The old fashioned way like with a pen and paper and some stamps. You could even write a love letter if you want! Writing a letter is a great way to express yourself and the act of actually physically going to put it in the mail forces you to take note of that action. Plus a hand written physical letter means a lot more to a lot of people. They can put it on their desks or walls and think about you. They may even write back and that should make you happy too. If you write me, I might write you back!
Find a group of people that make you happy and party with them. You don’t need drugs or alcohol or anything but a good time. If you need some inspiration for this you need to be following Andrew W.K. and JP Porcaro online. They are always a party and a good time.
Make It Happen
The last and biggest thing that makes me happy is having a bunch of goals. I get really unhappy when I don’t have goals. I need a huge project or something to look forward to in order to keep me going. I do things like the Story Sailboat, or my Guitar Collection, getting my Captain’s License, or the Seed Library to keep me motivated. I highly recommend making some kind of list of things you want to work toward. You can even doing it socially with one of my favorite websites called bucketlist.org. It’s great! Find me there and we can share our goals.