I am not asking you to completely live in a bubble but yes, I am asking you to live in a bubble — a positive one. Nor am I asking you to be delusional. In a climate filled with negativity, I had to learn how to navigate towards a healthy mental state.
This reminds me of my former marketing team at work, who used to shut off any obstacles that would hamper mood and creativity. I used to joke with them that we lived in a world of rainbows, unicorns, gold dust, kittens and puppies. We were purposely oblivious to office politics, criticism, gossip and intrigues. Yes, we were on the right path and did not allow anything to stunt our ideas.
So do not be annoyed with me and accuse me of spreading toxic positivity, okay? We all know s**t happens. However, when you are at a low, I advise you to find a way to shift your heavy feelings towards those that benefit and uplift you. In my quest to remove unproductive negativity in life, I have found ways that help me and may do the same for you. Bad vibes begone!
I first heard about smudging from Ces Drilon and her Vagabond Farms. She sent me this bunch of fragrant herbs tied together, which first raised an eyebrow. I thought it was a footbath or tea. I am so glad I read the lengthy letter accompanying it so I didn’t end up ingesting the stuff.
Smudging is an ancient rite done by the Native Americans and similar practices are attributed to other cultures. It is burning and using the smoke of “smudge sticks” to cleanse your space of toxic energy and purify the air by killing airborne bacteria (this is somehow comforting in the age of corona).
Common herbs and flowers used are sage, Palo Santo, cedar, lavender, bay leaves, and many more. It may seem like some mumbo-jumbo ritual, but try it if only to enjoy the delicious scent. It may just be psychological, but the space around me seems somehow lighter after. Believe it or not.
This Marie Kondo movement of asking yourself if an item “sparks joy” got a multitude of people decluttering. In feng shui, it is making space for the new to come into your life.
In a recent online talk entitled “Just Let Go” by interior designer and stylist Rachel Wenger, she discussed decluttering physical, mental, and emotional baggage. These are connected somewhat. On a positive way to get rid of clutter, she says, “When we let material things go, ultimately another person may make use of it.” There can even be an altruistic side to tidying up.
I am now convinced to not be overwhelmed as I declutter my home. I do this, even if I have a hotrod and kalesa in the laundry area. It’s done little by little and in my own time.
You also learn more about yourself in the process by revisiting old photos, letters… even old school report cards. Nostalgia engulfs me, but I throw what doesn’t move me. I discovered through decluttering that the most meaningful things are reminders of times with loved ones. Now, that sparks joy.
I dabbled in meditation years ago, forcing myself to empty my mind and remain still. I was intensely willing myself to be this calm and wise person but instead it stressed me out more. Fail.
When the pandemic hit, I had all the time to understand and practice meditation again. My meditation now is gentler, less judgmental. I still can’t completely empty my mind, but there are moments that I totally feel free; other moments, more focused.
Currently, I use the Headspace app to guide me. My mind still wanders but I have learned to step back (most of the time) and let my thoughts unfold. The lesson here for me is that of impermanence. Everything is constantly changing in our outer and inner worlds. So, yeah, good feelings pass but more importantly, bad feelings end.
I have been meditating for over a year every day and it’s different all the time. Some days are better than others, but I show up every morning. The results are not immediate. Meditation provides an increased level of joy and stress resiliency, a sense of calm, and most importantly, present-moment awareness.
Avoid energy vampires
We all have that acquaintance, friend or even family member who somehow drains you. They suck the positive, like those Dementors in the Harry Potter series. They can be outright or secretly toxic, which you absorb. What I do is to totally avoid these people but if I can’t, I establish boundaries and only see them when I am emotionally strong and not vulnerable. But really, stay away!
In a Healthline article, “How to Recognize and Respond to Energy Vampires at Home, Work, and More,” some characteristics of an energy vampire include:
- Always involved in some drama with dramatic behavior.
- Always one-ups you. This is because they can’t feel genuine happiness for another person.
- Diminishes your problems and plays up their own.
- Acts like a martyr and seeks emotional support to boost their self-esteem.
- Uses your good nature against you so they monopolize your time and constantly talk about themselves.
- Uses guilt trips or ultimatums if they don’t get what they want to coerce you into doing something.
- Co-dependent because they are emotionally needy.
- Criticizes or bullies. This stems from insecurity so they try to make you insecure, too, with emotionally aggressive tactics.
- Intimidation. This is a tool used to instill fear in another in order to feel better about themselves.
The power of kindness
In the super-popular online Yale course on happiness called “The Science of Well-Being,” Professor Laurie Santos reveals that kindness has been scientifically proven to increase happiness. Acts of kindness take away the focus on the self and train us to be sensitive and even generous towards others.
Kindness can come in many forms, big and small. The impact on yourself is what matters, but wait, you need to be sincere. When there is an opportunity, or not, show kindness, whether it’s sending arroz caldo to the security guards on a rainy day or helping out an ex-staff member who is having a difficult time — just do it.
On the receiving end of kindness is gratitude. Sometimes, I am amazed at the kindness and thoughtfulness of others towards me, especially from those I don’t expect.
Every evening, I write down at least three things I am grateful for. Once you get used to the feeling of gratitude, it will be easier for you to be in that state. Gratitude is the biggest “shifter” from the negative to the positive. Gratitude is a bad-vibes repellant.
They say tomorrow is not promised, so why waste your life in a fog of negativity? Although this is my personal journey, and one size doesn’t fit all, what’s important is to keep going forward, say goodbye to what doesn’t serve you, and move towards a better life now.