This month’s post title may remind you of the 1944 Johnny Mercer song of the same name. The song gives us some good advice: You got to accentuate the positive – Eliminate the negative … You got to spread joy up to the maximum – Bring gloom down to the minimum.
As with most good advice, it’s easier said than done. Some of us have become so used to worrying and focusing on what’s wrong that it has become our default mode. We don’t even realize that we are focusing on the negative and that it is colouring our view of life and the world.
In her book, Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting: The Astonishing Power of Feelings, Lynn Grabhorn offers this two-step process to accentuating the positive. When you find yourself feeling negative or stressing about something – the economy, a pending divorce, a lack of money, etc. – STOP – “stop thinking about it right now and flip-switch”. Flip-switch? That brings us to step two – “Establish a flip-switch topic for each day by finding one new item about yourself to appreciate.”
I tried this and it really does make you aware of your thoughts. I wrote out a list of 30 things that I appreciate about myself (this was the tough part) and every morning when I got up I looked at the list for the “flip-switch” topic for the day. When I found myself feeling down or anxious or worried I would stop that thought and replace it with my “flip-switch” topic. For example, if I found myself thinking about something I had read or seen in the news and it was bringing me down, once I recognized that I was feeling down, I would stop that thought and replace it with something like “I’m a kind person” – something from my list. After repeating this thought several times, the down feeling would dissipate.
Eventually you train yourself to recognize when worry or anxiety is getting the better of you and you learn how to “flip-switch” yourself into a better frame of mind. So, write out your 30 day list and get ready to bring gloom down to the minimum.