Positivity is choosing to say Yes to life even at those times when life is saying No to us….
Being positive is not about denying the difficulty of a situation, or hiding our fears. In fact I don’t think it’s possible to be positive unless we acknowledge those situations and fears that make for negativity.
Saying YES to life is simply the mind-set of being positive. It’s not an easy point of view to maintain. Yoga acknowledges this difficulty by making positivity one of its fundamental disciplines. In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali writes: “When bad feelings disturb, cultivate good thoughts instead.” (Yoga Sutra II.33) In Buddhist practice, the process of choosing the positive over the negative is called Shen Pa – which is basically a 3 step protocol for keeping focus positively directed. These are meant to be life practices, directives for coping with stress – and resisting the lure of negativity and fear – in the real world.
So here’s what you do.
- Every time your mind says ‘no’ – stop, take a breath, count to three – now say ‘yes.
- Every time you tell yourself ‘I can’t’ – stop, breathe – and say ‘yes I can’ instead.
- Whenever you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of negativity – stop, take a breath, and change your direction.
The whole of the practice amounts to putting yourself on ‘pause’ and taking that one moment to make a positive choice instead a negative one. It’s so simple – but like most really things, not easy. I’ve been working on it for years – and after years there’s not a day I don’t need at some point to stop, take a breathe, count to three – and make that all important decision: ‘I say Yes!’
That the practice of positivity is so central to two great traditions tells us something vital: we need Yes in our lives just as flowers need sun. The thing is that our sun – our inner Yes – can only be found within – in the conscious choice to believe that all things are possible, even when – especially when – we can’t see the way to make them so.