Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Create a Positive Thought Maintenance Program (Read Time: 3 min.)

Ever experience a great start to your day: fully showered, fresh off of some sort of peace practice (meditation, yoga, tai chi, affirmations) only to get in the car, get on the highway and find yourself pissed off and cursing at the idiot driver who just cut you off and nearly caused an accident?

There's peace and joy in having quiet time but it's one thing to get into that space and quite another to live there. Contrary to popular belief, peace of mind, albeit our natural state, takes work to maintain.  Let's not sugarcoat this.  We live in a world that treats negativity as if it were "realistic" and holds positivity as some Pollyanna foo-foo that liberal, "spiritual" people practice.  That's why we have a media outlet whose ratings skyrocket based on the delivery of bad news.  Good news doesn't sell because good news has no drama.

But what if you'd like your world to be less filled with drama?
What if you'd like to be able to be stuck in traffic and feel as peaceful as you did early that morning in yoga class?
Is there a way to maintain your peace and presence in a world that's always demanding you go faster, higher, and harder than is optimal for you?

Yes, there is and it's called a  
Positive Thought Maintenance Program (PTMP). 

Do you have one?

Better yet, do you know how to KEEP one?  

Here's the reality:

A. Positivity won't be a mainstay of your life until you create consistent time and devote persistent energy to it.
B. A PTMP is as necessary as brushing your teeth and would be far less painful to implement if you'd CHOOSE to see it that way.
C. Most people don't have PTMPs in place because of laziness.  You have to do more than wish for positivity.  You have to actively pursue it, embrace it and be it.

Would you like to know how to develop your own PTMP?  
Here's how I developed mine:
  1. Choose your positivity practice.  Mine consists of morning prayer, bible reading, gratitude list, and mirror work (saying affirmations in the mirror).
  2. Create non-negotiable space in which to consistently fulfill your positivity practice.  I'd love to be able to tell you that I do my positivity practice at morning and at night but I tried that and what I discovered was this: I'm a morning bird and when I hit about 10 pm at night, I'm tired, ready for bed, and there's no OOMPH to any work I do in the mirror and I fall asleep when I attempt to meditate at night so I cut out the nightly affirmations/meditations and, instead, I either listen to an inspiring audiobook on my ipod, Corciolli (classical music), or read a book that inspires and teaches me.  That thirty minutes is what my body is equipped to do at that hour and it works.  But you've got to COMMIT to a timeslot, a time of day, and the number of days per week that you're going to fulfill this practice.  I fulfill my PTMP six days a week.  On Sunday, in its place, I watch church on my iPad. 
  3. Hold yourself to it.  In the words of William James, "Suffer not one exception."  Period, the end, that's all they wrote folks.  This is where the drill sergeant in me comes out.  You have to fulfill your PTMP even when you're tired, even when you have 10,000 other things to do (that's why it's called a NON-Negotiable), even when you're not in the mood and ESPECIALLY when you're not in the mood.  The moment you stop holding yourself accountable is the moment you give negativity the open door to step back into your life.  Yes, it's that stringent.  Yes, it's that diligent.  But isn't your peace and joy worth that?  Of course it is. 
  4. Notice how much MORE effective you are when you institute and hold to your PTMP.  It amazes me how much calmer, more productive, peaceful, and joyful I am when I hold to my PTMP.  I'm able to weather the storms of life in a highly empowered way.  I'm able to see opportunities I wouldn't have been able to see through negative eyes.  Life feels joyous and is joyous when I've done the most important work of my day first.  Remember: we make times for the things that are important to us.  If you say positivity is crucial to your life, show that it in how you arrange your daily schedule.

FINAL POINT: You are a soul in a body, not a body in a soul.  Do what it takes to nourish and guide that part of you which is eternal, ever-present and in need of your love and esteem.  Without your soul, your body goes no where... 

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