by Wendy Strgar February 01, 2010
Today I had a lump of discouragement living in me. The more that I leaned into it, the more it seemed a visceral thing, that was rooted in my physical body and not a product of my thinking. I thought to blame it on my chaotic hormones or my low hedonic set point, but what became apparent was that understanding where it came from was way less important than deciding how to live it. This is central to my new understanding of what a positivity quest is- both a process and a continuous choosing of the relationship we make to our respective situation.
I have known this discouraging place many times before in my life. It is easy for me to solidify this place into a perpetual storyline of hard knocks. Taking the low road makes for a solid victim mentality, which often can easily be justified by the challenging realities of living on earth. Today, it was clear that this discouraging mental space that filtered my day had little to do with the stories I tell about my life situation.
Instead of chasing the storyline, I worked to just feel the situation as it was. Living with yourself fully and letting yourself feel the range of emotions that can occupy our bodies is not for the faint-hearted. Being willing to stay with my emotional downturn without attaching all the negative storylines was my bold act of positivity.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by optimistic, cheerful people at Good Clean Love. They laugh while they work and are quick to point out the errors in my thinking and reflection. This kind of companionship is a loving mirror to the emotional states that confound the mind. But finding a way through these places is an inside job. Positivity that can transform your life and change your mind is a hard-won choice (sometimes minute by minute) about how to think about your experience.
It was interesting to note that as I worked my way out of this hole that it wasn’t positive affirmations that pulled me out. In fact, after today, I understand better how a recent Canadian study of 100 subjects with low self-esteem, demonstrated that the use of positive affirmations actually backfired. The subjects did worse with this kind of positivity than with no intervention at all. Saying the words over and over will never overpower an emotional life that goes unheeded.
The Buddhist training in mindfulness and non-attachment provides the tools for going through the emotional realities and offers a chance to choose a positive relationship with the experience. If I have any hopes of making this positivity quest real, I know now that it will not be a simple exercise in repeating the right phrases, but rather the arduous opening to perceiving the positive in all situations and amidst the whole range of my feelings.
by Wendy Strgar March 21, 2019
Usually by the time we “spring forward,” most of us have long forgotten our New Year’s resolutions and not because we don’t want to change, but because the big sweeping ones we plan for after our third glass of champagne are so hard to get our hands around in the day to day. While the desire for change is earnest, what most of us miss is that real change is found in the small steps that we do consistently.
by Wendy Strgar February 21, 2019
Our sense of smell is ancient and the source of our most powerful emotional memories. It is also the primal sensory pathway to sexual attraction. And yet, we often give little attention to all that our sense of smell can evoke, in part because we have so little vocabulary for scent. Often we're limited to “it smells like…” and delineated only between pleasant and unpleasant.