Psychology has come a long way since Freud and the 20th century focus on lack and problematic thinking. So much research was done last century on the whys and hows of negative thinking and other less than positive aspects of the human mind. As a result there was a real lack in the focus of proper psychological health. However, the last few decades have seen a huge boom in positive psychology and thankfully more focus on understanding happiness and more positive states of mind. I was always interested in psychology but never wanted to study it at university. I knew the approach I wanted to look at more fully was that of forward thinking and now thinking, not dwelling on the past.
This was because I had spent most of my life studying the ‘Dharma religions,’ Hinduism, Jainism and specifically, Buddhism. So, I understood the impermanent nature of all things and how we are changing every minute of every day due to our more dominant thoughts.
So, looking backward and focusing on the problems of the past that don’t actually exist in the now seemed completely alien to me. Thankfully, psychology has followed suit of science and although proper research into negative aspects of the mind has its place, research into thoughts of love, courage, justice and compassion is long overdue. I’m a great believer in focusing on the positive and as the father of the positive psychology movement, Martin Seligman says, “I do not believe that you should devote overly much effort to correcting your weaknesses. Rather, I believe that the highest success in living and the deepest emotional satisfaction comes from building and using your signature strengths.” (Authentic Happiness) Both modern science and Eastern philosophy teach us that what we focus on expands, so this makes sense – focus on your strengths. Not only are you making each day more upbeat, you are also being true to yourself, living from a place of authenticity and creation, not how society or someone else expects you to be.
This is exactly how I see our daily habits and in particular, the food and drink we consume on a daily basis. Giving ourselves such a hard time for being ‘naughty because I had cake’ or constantly rebirthing the timeless, ‘I’ll start eating healthy on Monday’ is absolutely not helping ourselves in any way, shape or form. Last year, I saw a quote from an extremely wise woman that made complete sense to me, she said, “stressing out about what you eat or don’t eat is just as carcinogenic (cancer causing) as eating the wrong things.” We really need to stop giving ourselves a hard time, this is fundamental. So what’s the answer?
We need to focus on the positive. We know what to eat and we know what we should be doing but we don’t do it. So, here’s a thought. Start adding more of the stuff that makes you feel alive, gives you energy and vibrancy. That’s it. Add more of the good stuff, focus on the fact that you are adding more of the healthy food and lifestyle to your day and see what happens. Add some raw veggies, put some fruit in your breakfast, drink some more water, walk, do a couple of rounds of yoga ‘sun salutations,’ stop for 5 minutes and just breathe.
Add more good stuff in. Focus on the positive. Watch it expand. Start to feel better!