Negativity is the process of getting into an unintended rut.
You can find yourself in this rut by having habitually negative thoughts.
Negativity can lead to stagnation – leaving you feeling stuck in your life and lessening your joy.
It’s an internal pattern of behavior that – over time – can lead to the external appearance of unwanted circumstances.
Though negativity can be difficult to change, it’s not impossible.
Do you have the desire within you to improve yourself?
The most efficient way to improve the circumstances of your own daily life is to upgrade the thoughts that play habitually inside of your mind.
By identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, you can infuse your daily life with more moments of contentment and improved health.
Here are seventeen insights that will help you to remove negativity from your life.
1. Cultivate a New Awareness
Everything begins with awareness.
Start opening your eyes a little wider, and begin paying attention throughout the day to things you wouldn’t normally notice.
How do you walk? How do you breathe? When do you laugh?
You especially want to pay attention to how you feel when you do your everyday rituals.
Awareness is the first step to releasing negativity.
What if the best year of your life hasn’t happened yet?
I’m Dane Findley and my message is simple: it’s only in your thriving that you have anything to offer anyone – therefore, the best investment you can ever make is in your own health.
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2. Identify What You Don’t Want
Theoretically, it’s best to identify what you want, but not everyone automatically knows what it is they want in life.
If you’re not sure what you want, notice instead what you don’t want.
Once you know what you don’t want, think about it only briefly.
Next, think of its opposite. “If I know I don’t want this, then what is the opposite of this?”
There are few things more haunting than feeling your potential bubbling within you – all of your talent, creativity, skill, and uniqueness – but not knowing exactly how to apply it in the world.
Ironically, sometimes the more creative, intelligent and passionate a person is, the harder it is to determine new life goals – because almost everything looks interesting.
What if you sense that there’s something else you should be doing – but aren’t yet clear on what that is?
“What do I want?” seems like such a simple question to ask yourself, yet answering that question can be one of life’s great challenges.
I don’t normally advocate focusing on negativity, for the simple reason that what you focus upon, you get more of.
The law of attraction teaches us that it’s better to focus our time, energy and feelings on positive things – so that we magnetize more of that good stuff.
But for some people, it’s helpful to first briefly imagine what they don’t want, in order to cross those items off their list.
For clarification, get out a piece of paper and quickly write down the types of things you know you’re not interested in. Then put the list away for a day and when you return to it with fresh eyes, you’ll be able to see a pattern.
This works no what matter what decision you’re needing to make – choosing the ideal mate, the perfect vacation destination, or where to go to graduate school.
Contrast (identifying the opposite of what-you-don’t-want) is a key step to releasing negativity.
3. Ask Yourself the Prosperity Question
Success and prosperity are charged words that can activate different emotional reactions, depending on the person who hears them.
Because our values can evolve as we acquire life experience, it’s important that each of us consider periodically what those words “prosperity” and “success” mean to us as individuals.
Strictly speaking, the word success means the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
Success also refers to the attainment of prosperity.
However, each of us defines prosperity differently.
You can turn up the dial of your personal growth to warp-speed by asking yourself “What does prosperity really mean to me?” and then answering that question with all of the brutal honesty that you can muster.
Healing your personal associations with money is key to releasing negativity.
4. See Negativity as Disease and Health as Wealth
Personal growth is the process of looking closely at how you handle life from the inside and making the most of your potential before you die.
Whether you have ambitious, clearly defined goals – or simply the sense that you could make even more of a positive difference in the world – looking at your life objectively can help you to realize your dreams.
…one’s only rival is one’s own potentialities; one’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities” — Abraham Maslow
Life has taught me that true prosperity is excellent health. Because when you enjoy excellent health, all of your other values become more expressible.
For example, if you value relationships, then having robust health will provide you with the physical energy and time to be fully present for your friends and loved-ones.
One needs to actually be alive in order to be in close and consistent relationships with other human beings, and it also helps to have sustained energy.
People who are always slightly tired and harried have a harder time being fully present for those they love. Excellent health can be the antidote.
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5. Acknowledge that There Is More to Learn
I remember back in my younger days, feeling haunted by my unrealized potential.
I knew I had much to offer the world, but sometimes I felt as though I was just spinning-my-wheels.
By focusing on my own frustration and shame, I became that much more mired in negativity.
Have you ever had the lingering sense that you could realize even more of your own potential?
I’m happy to report that I’ve learned a few things over the last 52 years, but I still have to remind myself periodically that I have so much more to learn, experience and remember.
There’s something about middle age that makes you tempted to think you’ve already learned most of what you need to know. Those jaded thoughts are the beginning of degeneration, and you can replace them with feelings of enthusiasm for exploring more of life’s mysteries.
Your journey of discovery is not yet over.
Dane earned a masters degree in Counseling Depth Psychology from Pacific Graduate Institute. His past professional adventures include being a Therapist and Discharge Planner at a Dual-Diagnosis Hospital Inpatient Treatment Program, Digital Marketing Director for a real estate brokerage and decades spent as a professional fitness and Pilates trainer. Today, Dane is a Relationship and Healthy-Lifestyle Advocate and he curates the Quality of Life Newsletter – a weekly update for creative types who want to increase their daily joy.
6. Develop a New Self-Soothing Strategy
“Metabolize” is an internal process in which you take something potentially harmful and turn it into something useful.
For example, taking a fearful thought and turning it into a realization that you are stronger than you previously thought, or taking a nervous thought and turning it into excitement.
It’s hard to really get much momentum going on your personal growth if you don’t have a good strategy for metabolizing anxiety. Because when it comes time to recognize something about yourself – something that you sense will be momentarily painful to see – you might let yourself get distracted, in order to avoid the pain.
Anxiety is part of life on earth. If you don’t deliberately find healthier ways to deal with daily emotional discomfort, you might be tempted to “medicate” your anxiety with something less healthy, like sugar, denial, cigarettes, prescriptive opiates …whatever.
There is no “one” right way to deal with anxiety. Everybody’s a bit different. Explore your options. For me, I find slow, thorough breathing to be grounding. Also, when I exercise daily, it seems to help my brain chemistry. It keeps me brighter and more optimistic.
Additionally, the ability to witness my own thoughts calmly as I think them, and to observe patterns in my thinking, has been enormously helpful. When I objectively see myself thinking with negativity, I can stop, and course-correct before I stress myself out too much.
What self-soothing strategies might work well for you?
Finding healthier ways to lessen anxiety can also help release you from negativity.
7. Believe in Something Stronger, Smarter, and More Loving than You
In order to dramatically increase your physical health and happiness, you’re going to need to be able to surrender your frustrations to something Higher than you. Otherwise, all the world’s problems might drive you nutty.
A spiritual or religious tradition can work. It really helps to imagine that there is an infinite field of intelligence, compassion and creativity of which you and everyone is a part – but, if that’s too squishy for you, maybe you can simply remember that, even though you don’t have all the answers, you still have faith that the planet will be spinning tomorrow just like it did today.
Experimenting with new, more supportive beliefs can also help to release you from negativity.
8. Generate a Different Kind of Gratitude
I know, you’ve heard this one before. But here’s something that you may not have tried: instead of just having the intellectual thought of gratitude (in other words, identifying something for which you can or should feel grateful), try turning that thought into an actual, physical, visceral, feeling.
Here’s what works for me:
- decide on something for which you can be grateful, then hold that image peacefully in your mind for a moment.
- next, imagine your heart becoming very light, your chest actually lifting a bit.
- beam joy and appreciation from your heart until you imagine your whole body glowing.
- let that feel good.
Thinking grateful is good. Feeling grateful is even better. What’s more, the cells of your body will thank you for it, in the form of improved health.
Gratitude is absolutely essential for releasing negativity.
9. Own Responsibility for What Happens (Every Time)
It can be especially challenging for each of us to own specific responsibility for our lives and what occurs within it.
In order to make this work, you need to pretend that “you get what you vibrate.” It’s even better if you can believe it. But for those of you who don’t believe that you create the circumstances of your life by the thoughts that you have, just pretend that it’s true for now, and act accordingly.
When something unfortunate happens, ask yourself calmly and lovingly, “How exactly did I create this, and what can I do to create something better?”
You’re not going to disappear, die or go crazy if you take responsibility”
Resist the temptation to make a case for why this isn’t true. You don’t need to play the role of a lawyer and cite examples of starving children. You don’t need to focus on other people’s tragedies at all for this exercise. Focus on your own stuff. Your own life. And own it.
What helps this strategy to work especially well, is when you pay attention to the energy behind the owning.
Owning circumstances with a sense of guilt or shame is different than owning with two feet planted firmly and a chin held level.
When you ask yourself, “how did I create this?” ask it not from a victim-place, but from the part of you where common sense resides.
By the way, if you mess up with someone, then name it. Say what you did, express regret, say it won’t happen again (and mean it), and – for serious transgressions – make it up to the person. Don’t worry that it conflicts with the vision you have of yourself. You’re not going to disappear, die, or go crazy if you take responsibility.
Personal responsibility is key to releasing negativity.
10. Be a Work-a-Frolic Instead of a Workaholic
When something goes right in your life, celebrate that success in your mind. By celebrating your successes and cultivating and focusing your passionate energies on the tasks, projects, and people you love most, your success can increase exponentially.
11. Start Fantasizing
Turn off the television, turn off your phone, and go for a walk.
Let your mind wander:
- what are you dreaming about?
- in your daydreams, where are you?
- what are you wearing?
- who’s with you?
At this point in the process, you want to avoid critiquing your own thoughts, or evaluating what’s realistic or obtainable: let your imagination run wild!
12. Move Toward Authenticity
As you start to have ideas for what you can do, resist the temptation to imagine what other people will think about it.
At this point, you want your creative-gates open widely.
If you have a visual image of having fun as a trapeze artist in the circus… go with it.
13. Ask Yourself, “How Long Might It Take?”
This one’s important. There are some dreams that sound nice. But if it took 10 years to achieve them, you know you’d lose interest.
By gauging the time a goal might take to accomplish, and then imagining yourself traveling through that process, you can get a much clearer picture of whether or not that goal is meant for you.
For instance, you might like the image of yourself as a concert pianist, but you realize that 8 years later – or 12,000 hours of practice into the process – you would become bored.
Whatever length of time your idea would take, you also want to be able to mostly sustain the fire-of-passion in your belly throughout that period.
14. Craft Some New Goals
Most people know about the importance of carefully setting new goals, yet only 3% of professionals actually undergo this vital process regularly.
The reason you craft goals is that tracking and achieving goals helps to make you happier at work and improves your personal productivity and prosperity.
Here are some important considerations as you set new targets:
- exactly what do you intend to accomplish?
- a good goal isn’t nebulous and is easily verifiable by others.
- dream big, but still keep your goal within the realm of realism.
- how does might this goal increase your revenue?
- how might this goal increase your joy?
- figure out when you want to complete the big goal, then work backwards creating milestones along the way (this is just to give you a general idea as, ultimately, the universe has its own timetable).
15. Start Recognizing the Patterns in Your Life
There is a connection between the things you think and the things you experience.
Everything in the universe is comprised of energy – even your thoughts.
Your thoughts are vibrations; they’re like little messages that you’re sending to the universe.
If my method for feeing gratitude is too corny for you, then try this: imagine for a moment that the universe is configured to give you more of what you’re habitually focused upon.
Try to remember that your vibrations and your prosperity go hand-in-hand.
For example, everyone has secret beliefs about money. A person’s relationship with the energy system that is “money” creates a vibrational field.
This means that whenever you have a thought or feeling about money, the universe is eavesdropping.
When it the universe witnesses a repeating pattern in your thoughts about money, it sends you an experience to help you validate that habitual thought.
This is why it becomes important to periodically monitor our own inner “mind chatter.”
Some afternoon when you’re busy-as-usual, if you were to turn off your phone and sit down for ten minutes of quiet meditation, you could objectively listen to your mind as it prattles away.
This process of objective inner-listening might seem at first like a waste of time, but you’ll soon discover that it’s one of the most productive things you can do.
As you get better at witnessing your own mind-chatter objectively (“watching the watcher” it is sometimes called), you will soon be able to recognize differences and label specific segments of the chatter:
- “oh, that’s a thought”
- “oh, that’s a feeling”
- “oh, that’s a belief.”
People who meditate regularly are able eventually to be even more specific when identifying the chatter that plays inside their mind:
- “oh, that’s a judgment”
- “oh, that’s the emotion of shame”
- “oh, that’s sadness”
- “oh, that’s anxiety”
- “oh, that’s humor.”
And, the more consistently a person meditates, the more he or she is able to sustain moments when there is no mind chatter at all, just an abiding inner calm and peace.
Dr. Wayne Dyer called this “the gap,” and often said that one second in the gap is worth more than an hour of sleep and that you can get the equivalent of a full night’s sleep by spending a few moments in the gap – that’s how restorative it is.
You can also get rich by being bombastic, ruthless or exploitive (plenty of people get rich that way) but those people tend to have poorer health, disappointing life reviews, and – perhaps most significant – only the most shallow kind of happiness.
I’m assuming you want to feel the kind of soulful, boundless, vibrant joy that improves your own health and also touches the people around you, making a positive difference in the world.
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16. Begin Thinking of Your Mind as a Magnet
Are opportunities appearing in your life regularly?
Feelings are astoundingly powerful.
The key idea of the law of attraction is that your most dominant and consistent feelings will eventually find a way to manifest.
The strategy of leveraging the law of attraction is to recognize when internal habitual feelings eventually manifest real-life external circumstances – and then to celebrate the positive manifestations (in order to attract more of the same).
To lessen the frequency of negative manifestations in our daily lives, we can change our thinking and beliefs, releasing thinking habits of negativity and replacing them, over time, with more positive ones (see #9, above, about the freedom of apologizing and #17, below, about the freedom of forgiveness).
To me, “prosperity” means more than money. In fact, money is just one expression of the energy system that is prosperity.
I experience prosperity most deeply as excellent health.
I feel strongly that when a person has excellent health, they enjoy the ultimate abundance – because with robust perfect health almost anything is possible. The world is your oyster, as the saying goes.
Right now, at this very moment, you have a vibrational frequency that the universe is reading.
What sort of vibrations are you sending out to others?
What kind of response are you picking up?
The solitude of early-morning often provides ideal opportunities for self-reflection and honest evaluation.
I continue to believe in the importance of looking objectively at our everyday rituals and habits.
During a recent thirty-day experiment of waking and rising at 4:15 a.m., I was able to experience those quiet moments and give my mind a chance to clear and to focus – a somewhat uncommon feat in this age of multi-tasking and instant media.
One concept that my mind kept returning to, was the vast power each of us has to set the tone of our own lives – to wield greater influence in the experiences we have.
What my life’s experiences have taught me so far is that the energy we put forth is not only absorbed by others, but it is also reflected back to us.
The key to enjoying your life is to tend to your inner world as if it were a garden.
As Mister Rogers liked to ask, “what are you growing in the garden of your mind?”
At least twice a day, intentionally take your self off of autopilot mode by returning mindfully to the sensation on your own breath. Release judgment and cultivate gratitude.
Then, allow yourself to feel the actual physical sensation of gratitude inside your body (you will feel your heart lighten, a joy-rising). This will absolutely change your vibrational field.
You can shape these vibrations into strong self-perpetuating loops, often referred to as winning-streaks, good habits, symbiosis, or being “on a roll.”
Generally, the energy of prosperity – and, again, I include good health within the definition of the word prosperity – is not strongly pulled to a person’s ambivalent thoughts.
Habitual ambivalence disallows the flow.
The energy systems of money and health are powerfully attracted to feelings of joy and enthusiasm (this is another reason mornings can be a perfect time to celebrate your successes).
(By the way, this great manifesting power can also develop into patterns of negativity as well – resulting in frustration, fatigue or general malaise. So, be mindful.)
It can be so beneficial to take time regularly to explore and adjust the feelings and mindset that we are cultivating inside of ourselves.
Tending to our mind in this way improves our thoughts and feelings – and even our beliefs – giving us a more positive outlook, which in turn raises the frequency of those vibrations we emanate, which then attracts a better set of circumstances. The higher our vibrations, the better quality of people we attract into our lives.
You don’t have to get up before the sun to keep tabs on your vibrations, but I do encourage you to set aside time – daily, if possible – for repose and reflection.
If you can train your mind to think more positively, you will have unlocked one of the keys to feeling prosperous and joyful.
17. Understand that Your Brain Has a Soundtrack
There are proven relational habits that help humans to live longer and healthier:
- laughing more
- having sex more
- owning a pet
- being married
Research shows that one is at greater risk of heart disease without a strong network of friends and family.
Loneliness can cause inflammation within the cells of the body, and in otherwise healthy people isolation can be just as dangerous as having high cholesterol or even smoking. (This is tricky for someone like me – an extreme introvert who requires enormous amounts of solitude in order to recharge my batteries. I counteract that by spending time in remote nature – another effective way to get emotional-stroke needs met – and by keeping a tuned ear on my own thoughts).
When we take the time to actually witness our own thoughts as they occur, we recognize that they are often centered in the future or the past, which is usually not calming to our bodies.
New research from a long-term aging study reveals that happy people not only enjoy life more but also have more lifespan in which to enjoy it. This is why it can be enormously helpful for us to pay close attention to our thoughts, and then re-direct them when we witness ourselves thinking with negativity.
This is also why forgiving others is one of the most healing things we can ever do for ourselves, as the act of forgiveness can help to derail the runaway train of a repetitive negative thought.
Remember that sometimes during our busy everyday lives, it’s oddly challenging to drop into an actual feeling. We have a tendency to intellectualize gratitude. And that’s okay. Start there, if you need to (see #8 above).
After you think about something for which you can feel grateful, then move past the idea of it, into the actual emotion itself.
I like to imagine my body is getting lighter, and that my heart is floating up like helium and radiating playfulness and love. Heck, sometimes I even throw my hands up over my head in celebration! Judge me if you will but I’m telling you, it works for me.
Negativity leads to unfortunate events.
To be healthy for the long haul, the words that play in our brains need to be as positive as possible:
- which of the above insights are you already using masterfully?
- which are you eager to strengthen?
As your thoughts become habitually more positive and joyful, you’ll develop a sort of momentum.
Good things could start to happen with greater frequency.
This occurs in large part because of relationships.
As you become a brighter person, you’ll attract a brighter circle of people into your daily life.
The more joyful people you know, the more prosperity you will experience.
You cannot struggle to joy. Struggle and joy are not on the same channel. You joy your way to joy. You laugh your way to success. It is through your joy that good things come.” – Abraham-Hicks
You can use the laws of attraction to align with the energy of prosperity and create more opportunities in your everyday life:
- a positive inner dialogue leads to a giving off of positive vibrations
- positive vibrations attract positive outcomes
- the healthier the chatter is inside your mind, the healthier your outer life will become.
Essentially, this is accomplished by focusing your time, energy and attention on what you want (as opposed to what you don’t want).
The law of attraction is when habitual feelings eventually manifest real-life external circumstances – a natural law operating within the universe of like-attracts-like.
By focusing habitually on either positive things or things of negativity, one can bring about positive or negative results.