Sunday, January 12, 2014

That Flipping Attitude

Stewing on frowny thoughts saps energy and repels sweet interactions. Ugly.

What is it psychologists call the White Bear effect? You know, "Don't think about the white bear," then all you do is think about the white bear. It's a form of thought suppression and it doesn't work. The more you think about not thinking about something such as chocolate the more chocolate you'll actually eat.

Hmm. That's no good.

If thoughts lead to attitudes, and attitudes lead to choices, and choices lead to actions then does it make sense that focusing on a good attitude might turn a mindset around better than trying to suppress a bad attitude? Drink in the sweet-scented flower garden and you'll probably forget about the white bear.

This is how I snap myself out of frowny moments. I notice beauty and goodness.

I've found that when I invite loveliness into my mind, when I look for beauty, listen for it, and notice it I find myself making positive choices. And smiling more. My shoulders relax, my problems shrink to their actual sizes, my confidence rises along with a certain joy.

For example, some mornings, for reasons unknown to me, my mood upon awakening is negative, really looking-for-a-fight tense. I feel crabby, irritable, even angry. It's unpleasant. Really. Getting to the guts of this bad attitude requires a scanning of my thoughts. To what can I attribute this nastiness?

Unsurprisingly, the darkness is usually due to, well, absolutely no good reason, maybe a nightmare, maybe a violent or negative film watched before bed, or a hostile chapter consumed from a book, or, perhaps as for Scrooge, it could simply be a bit of undigested beef.

Once I realize that I'm not really angry at anyone, nor do I have a reason to be ill content, my attitude begins to flip from tense to relaxed. Just like that. This has taken some practice, you understand. A lot of practice. That flipping results not from avoiding the white bear but instead from realizing the beauty of my wiggling toes at the end of rested legs, the softness of my skin, the sun streaming in through the window or the rain pelting it, the smell of clean sheets or freshly washed hair, the touch of soft carpet under my feet, or the knowledge that the day holds promise for whatever reason.

Plentiful beauty exists around each one of us at any given moment. Sometimes beauty consists in the realization that my heart is beating, my lungs are breathing, and I have good memories of inspiring places and people I have known in the course of all this beating and breathing. Sometimes beauty is a startling foggy-shadowed twilight, sometimes the sounds of family members moving about, sometimes the voices of school children at the bus stop outside my picket fence. Sometimes it's the scent of tea and crumpets - my daughter really likes to make these British treats - sometimes it's a song lilting in my mind, or the refreshment derived from a cool drink of water. Oftentimes the beauty projects from the artwork in my home enticing me to pause and feel happiness, or the sunlight glistening off my little perfume bottles, or off of my husband's reddish golden hair. Beauty in the smile of James the local deli owner, Karen the grocery store checker, and Loren from down the street.

Sometimes this beauty is simply in realizing that I'm a child of God and forever will be. How I love him! His goodness is beautiful even when he is disciplining me because I know from experience that good will come of it. It always has. He is the one who has taught me about beauty in attitude, in transforming my mind through my thinking.

Beauty offers sweet, uplifting rest any time. Beauty takes our thoughts by the hand and leads us to life-affirming choices and actions, which ripple out to others creating a little space of hopeful connection in a world that suffers too often from frowniness.
"Love of Beauty is Taste. The creation of Beauty is Art." ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Anonymous said...

Great comment and idea, thanks,

Debbie Doughty said...

Beautiful! Such truth and encouragement here. Thank you...

Cherie said...

Hey, thank Tom and Debbie for the comments. It feels good to be blogging again. Your comments make it all the more worthwhile. I appreciate you!