Intelligent Living
Health Lifestyle

Psychology & Philosophy of Positive Living

Life’s Simple Battles

It’s a hot topic; “I’m living in such horrible times, how do I become a more positive person?”.

Therein lies the problem, you’ve already doomed yourself to being a negative person.

“But how does this even work? Why can’t I just live happily?”

In these very sentences we have already identified some causes, defining happiness by one’s surroundings, even admitting and declaring not being a happy or positive person. If you feel those thoughts arising that this is a bunch of nonsense then you’re sadly mistaken, there’s an entire psychology branch of dedicated theory and therapy called positive psychology. While depression may be a complex psychological condition, some major causes of depression can be broken down into a few negative mindsets that a person puts themselves through every day. That’s right, not necessarily negativity that a person experiences, negativity that a person creates in their minds alone.

Aside from the many publications on positive psychology, there are many day-to-day examples that can be given on how people decide to live negative lives rather than living a positive life. Upon engaging in conversation or absorbing one’s self with popular media topics, some will notice, pull out of the topic and focus on highlighting and nitpicking at the negative areas of topics. Thereby they are actually choosing, all on their own, to leave happiness and positivity out of the conversation. This simple focus on the more bleak and dark side of things will usually lead people further and further away from a happy and positive lifestyle.

This simple negative mindset may help us to think of even further ways to detriment ourselves as we start fabricating stories in our minds. We sometimes polarize these topics and begin to turn them into one side versus the side that I currently perceive as negative, thinking about how horrible that negative thing is, dragging ourselves into darkness. At other times we take it even another step further and personalize the issue somehow making topics, that have no effect on us, my problem, this topic is attacking me. Yet the worst that we can do is to transform these topics into grand catastrophes, humongous problems that are created by our minds alone, due to the fact that we can’t stop focusing on negativity.

“Who knew it was this easy to be a negative person?”

Seems kind of masochistic when you think about it.

How to Become More Positive

1. Mindfulness

A lot of people don’t realize what they are experiencing or going through, they seem to float through life as if empty or not in control, this is where mindfulness comes in. Becoming more mindful is a very powerful exercise, though this means nothing more than to realize what you’re thinking, experiencing and doing, this is the beginning of forging a profound difference on your life.

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness. –, Harvard Medical School on Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness is all-encompassing on what you are experiencing mentally, emotionally, physically as well as what your senses perceive and always making sure to pay close attention to all of this in the foreground rather than allowing thoughts to overpower your true experiences. While it is widely known as a way of being, psychology explains mindfulness as a set of techniques which helps you to gain a relationship with your own thoughts.

2. Self Reflection

Being more mindful is a very large leap forward in the active practice of being a positive person, it is a step toward becoming more aware of the self. In psychology, self-awareness may be described as a form of higher consciousness. Awareness of the self is not as simple as it seems, this can make us subject to negative or positive aspects of ourselves.

Let’s suppose that “I am always trying to figure myself out” – one typical item of the SCS; this can mean two things: I’m always mulling over or second guessing myself (self-rumination), or I love trying to figure myself out (self-reflection). In both cases the focus of attention is still the self, but one is motivated by fear and self-doubts, and the other by epistemic interest in the self. – Science & Consciousness Review

self_reflection1Self rumination may lead to more negative characteristics, what we commonly describe as self consciousness, conceitedness and doubting the self, however self reflection is to deeply, and cognitively, examine and contemplate the thoughts and actions we have experienced. The positive aspect of self reflection may best be defined as character refinement, through self reflection we are able to look at ourselves introspectively, almost as if we are not ourselves, and see where our faults are and how to improve. Given the right kind of mindfulness, a person can spot where and how they have been negative and replace those past behaviours with more positive ones in the present time.

“When we get to know ourselves, we are more open and loving toward others, because we see their humanity and the gifts that they bring.” In other words, once you know your priorities and perspectives, you can make deliberate decisions based on those things, intentionally creating a more connected life that is true to you. –PsychCentral

3. Acceptance and Revision

wpid-self-acceptance-is-myThere’s a great chance that if you’re reading this article then its because you wish to become a more positive and happy person. Now that we’ve passed discussion points on constant mindfulness of the present moment, reflecting upon our emotions, thoughts, actions and contemplating why they have occurred that way, it’s time to talk about how to actually go about becoming a positive person. The funny thing about this is that actively pursuing to drop negative characteristics doesn’t work, that’s still putting focusing on and creating more negativity in your life. What does work is acting in positive manners where you once saw negative characteristics, acceptance of the self, admittance that you do make mistakes, beginning to see the brighter sides of situations and thinking of yourself as, an ever improving, positive and happy person.

These words of advice are examples of self managed psychology, while these techniques may certainly help one to have great self esteem there are opportunities that may be missed as opposed to socializing or looking for support around you. For some the goal of becoming a better person is to help uplift others in their struggles, let those people help guide and inspire you as this amazing journey goes on. As we connect with one another we all may grow and learn together.


Philosophy and Spirituality

So far we’ve spoken a bit about modern day psychology but the mind is not a new thing, we’ve studied the mind for a very long time. The issues we have with negative mindsets are not new either, there are hundreds of years, even thousands of years, old teachings which focus on combating these problems and they still apply today. Entire cultures have based their lifestyles on these principles, and all of us negative thinkers are lucky enough they’ve decided to write about them and pass them on from generation to generation. There are many different types of studies to learn from in this area, while we may not post about all of them, we hope that you may use the following knowledge to assist in positive living.


Mindfulness and Introspection Are Ancient

Many foundational principles of mindfulness may be traced back to ancient eastern philosophies and practices such as Taoism, Buddhism and the Vedas. From these philosophies stem many different meditation practices which are widely taught to this day, there is plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that these practices cause the brain to enter different phases of processing. One writer for the Huffington Post would like to remind us that meditative thinking is different from positive thinking as one allows you to access far more of your mind.

Vipassana meditation is a set of techniques described in Rig Veda of the Vedic texts. This type of technique helps one with self exploration, self-observation and self-transformation, the basic three steps this entire article presents. Practising Vipassana is quite simple, yet has no specific end goal as it’s a style of positive living. You may notice that this technique is described as being a Buddhist technique, while this may be true there are many connections in between Veda and Buddhism. The Vedic texts were written in the area of modern day India between 1500 – 1000 BC, many wisdoms and branches of knowledge stem from these texts and many different cultures have as well. Other practices which stem from the Veda are Sahaja Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Download the Vedic texts for free

In Taoism the concept of Wu Wei means not to interfere with, to be open enough to allow possibilities to occur, to relinquish the control one usually exerts over things. This doesn’t quite mean not to act or do, it’s about no longer forcing things to become this or that but instead to go with the natural flow of things. This relates to mindfulness because Wu Wei allows us to become aware of what is naturally happening without our influence, meaning we have more time to sit back and observe, time to be mindful. Download free books on Taoism

The Buddhist concept of mindfulness is far more in depth than other concepts, it’s knowledge lies within the seventh part of the Noble Eightfold Path as the fourth of the Four Noble Truths. In Buddhism it is known as Right Mindfulness, there are many forms of mindfulness meditations to practice but practising mindfulness meditation alone is not practising Buddhism. You can have mindfulness without Buddhism but you can not have Buddhism without mindfulness, for it is one of the seven factors of enlightenment. Download free books on Buddhism

“If you know how to practice mindfulness you can generate peace and joy right here, right now. And you’ll appreciate that and it will change you. In the beginning, you believe that if you cannot become number one, you cannot be happy, but if you practice mindfulness you will readily release that kind of idea. We need not fear that mindfulness might become only a means and not an end because in mindfulness the means and the end are the same thing. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

230xNxsocrates_zpsabfde158.png.pagespeed.ic.Afq3FZjrSMSocrates may be known as the most influential philosophical thinker of his time, in the quote pictured to the right an important philosophy of his is simply made known. In Plato’s writing The Apology, he recounts a speech made by Socrates, an expanded look at this quote is below.

Perhaps someone might say, “Socrates, can you not go away from us and live quietly, without talking?” Now this is the hardest thing to make some of you believe. For if I say that such conduct would be disobedience to the god and that therefore I cannot keep quiet, you will think I am jesting and will not believe me; and if again I say that to talk every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me talking and examining myself and others is the greatest good to man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you will believe me still less. This is as I say, gentlemen, but it is not easy to convince you.

Here he shows that spreading philosophy, virtue and examination of the self, and others, are all of such great importance that it matters not if he is exiled for them.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that introspection is generally learning about one’s own self whether through the self or an outside influence, later going on to state that it’s products are thoughts, representations and awareness. For the topic of this article, it is awareness that is the most important outcome of introspection. Self-awareness shapes who we are as individuals, whether being aware of the self is a process of the mind or an outside influence making us realize ourselves. The Auckland School of Philosophy states five levels of self awareness, ranging from least to most aware they are listed as; deep sleep, dreaming sleep, waking sleep, fully awake and higher consciousness.

Whether mindfulness and introspection is performed through spiritual practices, meditation, taking the time out to self reflect, realization through external influence or all of the above, you will begin to notice certain feelings as you become more aware of yourself. The Humanistic Spirituality website has a very long list of feelings you may experience in journeys of self exploration and what you may need to counteract, or do more often to change, these feelings into positive emotions.

Living a positive lifestyle is not as difficult as it seems and there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Our guideline is meant to cover the basics in helping you to grasp a deeper understanding of yourself. Remember, a lifestyle change is not something that happens overnight, it’s something which we remind ourselves of and practice every day. With this piece of advice, we send you on your way to a more happy existence with yourself, with others and the world around you.

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