Positive verses Negative

I don't like to classify things as "positive" or "negative" because I believe that in the greater scheme of things, if we pull away from judging the circumstance as is, we often find an intelligence at work. There's often an eventual purpose in a "bad" thing. Furthermore, sometimes a "good" thing quickly turns bad in light of just a few extra details.

When we were young, many of us could have sworn that we knew exactly what we wanted and made choices that felt so "right" only later to regret. And of course some things didn't feel good at all, but have allowed us the position we hold today.

Two things that cause us much confusion and discontentment in life are:

1. That we insist on classifying everything into black and white lists, good and bad, lucky/unlucky. This sometimes takes the form of a more sophisticated mental-rating system where we compare experiences, people and feelings in a mental sliding scale from 1 to 10. ("She's pretty" becomes "how pretty is she?" "I'm having a great time" becomes "How much fun am I having?").

This mental arithmetic often distracts us from just enjoying the moment or doing what we set out to do in the first place.

2. Even more confusing is that after we cast the judgment, after WE give out the grade - we are unhappy with the score because it's low! Things, people and even feelings don't easily please our inner critique, we are perfectionists and unconsciously fussy. Then we wonder why things aren't "good enough" or worse, we ask ourselves "why does my life suck?" and get answers!

The problem is we don't play fair. We don't start the scale from what is really bad, horrible or awful in life, (like poverty, hunger, the absence of basic human rights, oppression, disease or not having access to help in any area of development). We don't start the calibration there because that would mean most of our day to day judgments would rank way higher up! And rarely would something go below the halfway point.

Our 0 point is what of the world's population would call a 7 on the bliss scale.

Sometimes we need reminding to gain perspective. It doesn't mean we have to lower our standards, it just means that not everything needs to be judged and to recognize how our own judgment affects our mood.

3 cures:

1. If you catch yourself before the die is cast, distract yourself so that you simply don't do it. Immediately start to read or talk about something else with as much interest as you can possibly muster, becoming completely involved in something other than the object that's about to be scrutinized! You'll be surprised at how quickly your mind will play along if you are sincere at choosing to stop yourself. This doesn't work for the half-hearted attempts! Refocus on your true intention and let go of distractions. (This is the application of the fifth Yama, Aparigraha: non- possessiveness to our own thoughts).

2. Change the score. If it's after the fact, and you've once again given a lousy score to something, say to yourself, "Can I choose to be happy with it anyway?" "Can I do something productive in this circumstance anyway?" So that even though you deemed something not satisfactory, you can still think of a way to be OK with yourself. It takes some effort to remember to do this, but driven by your desire to create something better, you will simply change the score.

3. Practice Gratitude. The second Niyama, Santosha (contentment) speaks of realizing how blessed and fortunate we truly are. Appreciating that the life-force continues to grant us life. That our body and our mind are intact for our choices of expression, and that the world is our playground. There is so much to be joyful and content with. Gratitude vibrates in the body at a high frequency and is also a healing energy.

It's not about covering up the negatives with positives. It's about really living a conscious life by coming from a place of gratitude and contentment within.

I endeavor to practice freedom of judgment, and to remember that if my seesaw's tipping, it's in my hands to balance it out.

Namaste,
Michal