Some say ‘you are what you eat’, some others say ‘you are who you spend your time with’, and some (who have the money to back it up 😉 )might say ‘you are who you wear’…There’s truth in all of those, I guess. But more so than any other, I live by the philosophy that ‘YOU are WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE’.
But…yeh. Not that simple unfortunately.
Around the globe, scientists to thinkers and philosophers to present day tycoons of industry, professional sports people to motivators, teachers and all round happy and positive people agree – you become what you spend your time thinking about.
A quick google search will bring up the benefits of positive thinking, but as a mindfulness practitioner and habitual-happy-thought-thinker myself, I will speak simply from experience.
If you believe you can be or do something, you will behave in a way that facilitates that. If you believe you cannot, then you shall not. This is how I (try to) live. Seems too easy right? Well it’s not. Not that simple at all.
Our minds can land us in territory that we, as humans and users of that squishy zombie bait, tend to find unfamiliar and often downright terrifying.
Simply speaking, our brain is out to get us. A Modern Psychology and Buddhism course that I have taken (and continue to take again and again – hurrah for lifetime access) taught by Robert Wright gives a plain and simple explanation; I’m paraphrasing big-time, but basically natural selection wants us to survive, so our brains are wired to keep us safe. Which you might say, well that’s not a bad thing…sure, I get that, means we have fight or flight response etc. Pfft, easy peasy.
But that comes with a side order of Automatic Negative Thoughts, that run like a soundtrack to our lives. Thoughts of not being good enough, not being smart enough, being too slow, too thin, not thin enough, comparing, judging, negativity over and over again.
And if we don’t catch it, and flip it around, it can send us into a spiral of Negatron-ism. (I made that word up).
How often do you look in the mirror and have an automatic negative response to what you see? How do you react to certain circumstances? Have you caught yourself playing the “(Person) is better than me at_____” game? IT’s so natural, and so important that we change it. Of course it can take months and years of practice to get our thoights under control, but there are practices that we can use, habits to form that make small steps more achievble.
(BTW I find it especially important while in Korea, seeing English learners who constantly berate themselves for being sub-standard in a society that favors grades over growth.)
Anyway, you don’t need me to tell you the benefits or inner workings of positive psychology (because I can’t – yet 😉 ) so I shall simply request you do your own research and I will offer nowt but my two pennies.
I want to share something I do with my students that really breeds wonderful results: Affirmation Writing.
I might do this as a full session or before we have our regular session as a warm up exercise.
Start the lesson congratulating the class on all their hard work for the day.
I tell the students that they did a great job today, before the lesson has even started. Always, confused, they respond with hums and has thinking they 1) misheard or 2) aren’t proficient enough to know that what they think they heard, they actually heard.
Then I repeat, and explain to them I want to be positive before we start the lesson, because I am proud of them and they should be proud of themselves etc. I then hand out pieces of paper with affirmations written on them. Like this:
I am a confident person, I am confident in myself and in what I believe.
나는 자신감 있는 사람이다. 나는 내 자신과 내 신념에 자신이 있다.
I am fulfilling my dreams one step at a time.
나는 한 걸음씩 내 꿈을 이루어 나가고 있다.
I am moving in the right direction.
나는 올바른 방향으로 나아가고 있다.
My life is filled with joy and positive experiences.
내 삶은 기쁨과 긍정적인 경험으로 가득 차 있다.
I do more and more each day towards fulfilling my desires.
나는 내가 원하는 것들을 하루 하루 더 채워 나갈 수 있다.
They then have the task of standing up, reading aloud the affirmation they received and receive a round of applause from their classmates. I then repeat with more affirmations (which I can send you if you like) until we are sufficiently pumped up, then we sit down.
Our next task is to write our own affirmations, write one for a friend, then write one for their future self.
It’s interesting to see what they write, and how much fun they have doing it especially for their friends and future selves. (side note: I have also done affirmation writing without the motivational warm up, and the results are quite staggering on how the positivity levels and self belief differ between the two.)
Anyway…a few tips on writing affirmations if that’s your thing…
Always write in present tense – “I will be happy when…” is a sure fire way to never be happy. “I am happy…”
Always write with positive language – for example, “I don’t allow negative thoughts…” can be replaced with “I always invite positive thoughts…”
Write something that is personal to your own experience, that works for you, and that you will find useful.
And finally… if all else fails, use the “I am…” model. It can be incredibly powerful, insightful and simple to understand and take with you throughout the day.
Give positive vibes, always. And encourage positive thinking within your students and your life.
Happy begets happy, y’know 😉