Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Buddhist practices and mindfulness. Buddhism speaks to me in a way no other practice ever has. There’s something to be said for living in the present and creating a life you genuinely enjoy. These days, it’s easy to get caught up in a negative mindset, so I have to put in a conscious effort to change the way I think. Your thoughts become your beliefs and will eventually turn into your actions. These everyday actions affect all aspects of your life – home, work, friends and family are so tightly woven together, so to stay positive and mindful about the kind of life you want is only going to prove to be beneficial for everyone involved.
It’s pretty elementary when you break it down; Treat people how you want to be treated. Simple as that. Show respect, be kind and patient, lend a hand or an ear when needed and be present for those you care about. Negativity breeds negativity. Conversely, positivity only breeds positivity. Surround yourself with people who make you a better YOU. Life is far too short to feel bad about past mistakes (believe me, I’ve made more than my fair share!) or to worry about the future. Stay positive and in the now and you’ll find an abundance of light and love at every turn.
Just in the past year, I’ve found that because I’m more positive and confident, people are more drawn to me and invite me to come around more. The bonds I have with my friends, both new and old, are much stronger because the relationships are being nurtured in such an amazing light. If someone in your life is negative or brings your mood down, whether they are family or friend, take a step back to reevaluate and gain some perspective. If you find that this person no longer lifts you up or enriches your life, make the decision to walk away from them. Free yourself from the weight of that relationship and give yourself time to heal. Make room for those who make you buzz with happiness. That being said, it takes some life experience to come to a point where others’ negativity no longer creeps in and violates the deepest personal space in your mind.
Too often, we fail to create a culture of love and respect and instead wind up creating, and subsequently cultivating, debilitating insecurities that take way too long to overcome. My family was definitely among the latter. Growing up, I was all to familiar with those insecurities. A common “teasing” phrase at holiday dinners was “In through the lips and on to the hips!.” This is not something any young girl wants to hear! Countless pictures were taken of me with my mouth open and fork in hand and it became a joke to try to get the most. Until one day, when I was in my early twenties, I kind of snapped. My aunt, who is only four years older than I am, got a lengthy email detailing all of the ways she tormented me growing up. Oh boy, did I let her have it. I stopped attending family functions because I couldn’t deal with the “doom and gloom” atmosphere. I would much rather spend my Thanksgiving with friends who, let’s be honest, are more like family. Friends who make me laugh and push me to be a better person without tearing me apart. It took me a long time to forgive my family and accept that I can’t change who they are or the words they choose to use. I can only control who I am, what I choose to say and do and how I let others affect me. It wasn’t until I chose to be grateful for the people in my life that DO lift me up and make me happy that I was able to be around my family without that “doom and gloom” feeling. Now that I’ve let go of the feelings from all those years ago, I can just be with my family, accept who they are and enjoy the time I do spend with them.
Finding yourself feeling gratitude, you can live more gratefully. Finding yourself feeling love, you can live more lovingly. Living more lovingly should, most importantly, lead with loving yourself. This self love seeps out of our pores and can then be shared with our friends, family and even strangers. In a sense, we are paying it forward. While it can be one of the hardest things we do in life, it can also the most cathartic. It’s incredibly liberating to let go of not feeling good/smart/pretty/funny enough and just BE. Be yourself, LOVE yourself and absorb the good that comes your way.