Friday, September 25, 2009

The Power of Positivity

Today, we're happy to host Theresa Ragan as one of our special Friday guest bloggers. Theresa and I have been friends since 2003, when we both finaled in the Golden Heart for the first time. To date, Theresa has seven GH finals to her credit, and she's one of the coolest, most positive people I know.

By Guest Blogger Theresa Ragan

On January 1, 2007, I decided I was going to change my life by training myself to think positively. I was tired of the negative path I was on. At the time, I had never heard of Eckhart Tolle or The Secret. I just knew my life needed to change. I wasn’t a horribly negative person before that but I wasn’t happy. I had a few moments of “road rage” and I was known to let a store clerk have a piece of my mind on occasion. I would complain about everything wrong with my house and I didn’t like the weeds in my yard or the fact that I couldn’t afford to leave the air conditioner on when it was hot outside. When my husband would come home after work, he would immediately look for the negative (Why is the door open? How did these flies get in the house? Turn off that light. Shut that door). I was done with negativity. No more complaining. I decided I was going to change myself first and then hopefully my positivity would rub off on those around me. I decided to start exercising on a regular basis and if my kids or husband said something negative, I was not going to react. Not reacting to their complaints worked amazingly well because it gave their negativity nowhere to go. All their negativity just disappeared into thin air because I was no longer giving their fire any fuel. Within days of my transformation, a friend left The Secret DVD on my doorstep. After I watched the DVD twice, I felt sure that my positive energy had pulled the DVD right to my door!

“We become what we think about, all day long.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Secret DVD has flaws. Don’t we all? If you watch the entire DVD though, hanging on to the stuff that works for you, it could change your life (no, if you wish long and hard for a new shiny bicycle, it’s not going to come to your doorstep). Anyhow, I was excited because I knew I had already started using some of the principles of the Law of Attraction. Like attracts Like. Negative attracts Negative. (Have you ever been in a bad mood and watched how quickly those negative vibes rub off on those around you?) Positive attracts Positive (a smile, a hug, it doesn’t take much).

“Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is Life itself, it is an insane way to live.” –Eckhart Tolle

Here are some of the things that helped me. Remember, the Law of Attraction is only ONE tool to help you get on a positive track and improve your life.

Take responsibility. Take some responsibility for the things, good and bad, that have happened in your life. Scientists have proven that we are all made up of energy. Think of yourself as tiny particles. Quantum physicists have proven that like energy attracts like energy. Whatever it is you choose to focus on is exactly what you are drawing to you (keep thinking and talking about how sucky your life is, and yes, it’s probably going to be sucky). Instead, begin to focus on things you want in life: happiness, financial freedom, a stress-free life, a publishing contract, etc. And then begin to visualize these things as if they have already happened to you. It only takes seconds to feel the power of good, positive thoughts. When you’re tired, don’t think “tired.” Think energizing thoughts. If you can’t take a nap, what good is thinking about how tired you are going to do you?

You have nothing to lose by thinking positively. Nothing.

Take all negative words out of your life. If you keep telling yourself that a task is going to be hard, then guess what? It’s going to be hard!

Be grateful. For me, this is THE most important thing to do if you truly want to change your attitude and your life. Be grateful for every single thing you have. If you aren’t getting along with someone, remember all the good things about that person. Look around you and be grateful for your eyesight. Be grateful for your legs that get around. If a messy house drives you nuts, be grateful you have a roof over your head. Be truly grateful, and you’ll make room to receive more wonderful things into your life.

Be positive. Positive that today is going to be the best day ever. Positive that you will get everything done that you need to. Positive that any financial problems will take care of themselves. Positive that you will lose five pounds, that you will do your best to eat right, that you will squeeze exercise into your busy day, that you will be published some day, that you will get an agent or a contract, etc.

You need to take action.

Action. Don’t just sit on the couch wishing. Do something. You might not know what to do, but putting yourself out there, even if it’s going for coffee with a friend, will lead to the next thing or idea. The very ACT of being, thinking, and feeling positive will make you feel happier. If you want to lose five pounds, you need to eat healthily. If you want to be rich, you need to come up with an idea or go to work. If you want to have a stress-free life, you need to stop sweating the small stuff.

You’ll look and feel younger. Amazing changes will occur. Once you start thinking positively, everyone you come into contact with, including your family, will react differently toward you. They will become more accommodating and/or cooperative. You’ll relax more and worry less.

Life still happens. Think positively, but also keep your logic intact and know that your car might still break down, your kid might not make the soccer team, you might lose your car keys or stub your toe, but HOW you REACT will make all the difference in the world. Since surviving cancer, Lance Armstrong has said, “I now have good days and great days.” You don’t have to survive cancer to feel the same way.

“We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Being positive, for whatever reasons, doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Read up on the Law of Attraction and positive thinking, and convince yourself to give it a chance. If the idea seems strange, give it a try anyhow. You have nothing to lose, only to gain. Ignore what others might say or think about you once they discover you are changing the way you think. My son pointed out that people weren’t changing around me, but that I was seeing people and the world in a new way, perhaps even through rose-colored glasses. Maybe he’s right. But you know what? It worked for me. I remember coming home from a two-hour PTC meeting and my daughter asked me how it went, and I said, “AMAZING.” My husband rolled his eyes and said, “Everything that happens to you can’t possibly be amazing.” I laughed and said I would stop using that word around him so much and I could see his mind reeling, probably remembering the not-so-positive me from the past, and he said, “No. No. Keep doing whatever you’re doing. I like it.”

Now, three years later, I found myself slipping back into my old ways. Complaining more often and thinking life wasn’t fair. My older son, the one who once suggested I might be seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, asked me what happened to my positive self? I reminded him that he made fun of me and wasn’t exactly the most supportive with my new and improved self. That’s when he told me I was wrong. In actuality, my happy, positive vibes had rubbed off on him, made him grateful for the little things, made him see life a little differently. He told me how he’d told all of his friends of the changes I’d made and how proud of me he was. He made me see that I was on the right track after all.

Letting go of the negative energy in me was much easier this time. It’s like riding a bike…once you’ve truly learned how to think positively and be grateful for what you have, it’s much easier to get back up if you trip and fall every once in a while.

This might sound strange, but I think it’s worth repeating. I truly had to “train” myself to think differently. It’s easy to slip back into the complaining mode or to not be happy about little things. Like getting down on life because of a dirty house, especially when you don’t have time to clean it. Let it go! You’ll be doing yourself and everyone around you a favor. Life is too short. If you knew you only had a year to live, would you care about the floor needing to be mopped? No. You wouldn’t be sweating the small stuff. You would want to cherish every moment you had with your loved ones. So why wait another day? Start training yourself to think positively and watch the grass grow greener right before your eyes. It worked for me and my family. My husband has become more positive than me! My entire family is happier than ever. I kid you not. Just last night, my daughter’s boyfriend told my daughter that he wished his family could be so loving and happy.

I wish I could take away all the bad things that happen in the world, but I can’t. None of us can. We only have the power to change ourselves. And, IMO, it’s a great start.

“We are shaped by our thoughts, we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” — Buddha

Thursday's progress:

I don't have an accurate calorie count for some of the things I ate yesterday, but it was a high-calorie day. Amazingly, the scale continues to tick downward. Still, I'm aiming for 1,000-1,200 calories today. I had 8,902 steps yesterday, and worked on house cleaning for 2 1/2 hours. Can you say fall cleaning/culling time? :)


Michelle Butler on September 25, 2009 at 3:35 PM said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with becoming a more positive person. Is there a definition of the law of attraction beyond "like attracts like"?

A couple years ago I read the 100 secrets of happy people, and I was struck how many of them were about attitude. (The other biggies were relationships, health and fitness.) Then, Jeanne Adams had recommended that I read The Success Principles, and that was also very helpful. Throw in Oprah's magazine, and I think folks would have a lot of help in becoming more positive.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on September 25, 2009 at 5:21 PM said...

Wonderful post, Theresa. Thanks so much for being here today.

Michelle, I'll have to check out those books. I like the sound of the 100 Secrets of Happy People.

Michelle Butler on September 25, 2009 at 9:44 PM said...

I found the book 100 Secrets of Happy People at a random gift shop in the East VIllage in NYC. I was visiting my sister who seemed a little down, and I bought the book for her. I ended up reading it sitting on her couch. It's a quick book with one secret per page. The gift shop had a whole bunch of books like that. The 100 Secrets of this group, the 100 secrets of that group, etc.

Theresa Ragan on September 25, 2009 at 10:08 PM said...

Hi Michelle. Hi Trish! Sorry I'm so late to the party. My mom can't drive because she can't see and she needed me today!!! But I'm back!

Michelle, the hundred secrets book sounds great. You need to give us a few examples if you get a chance!

About the law of attraction. A lot of people think it's balogne, but give it a test some time. Go out of your way to be super positive and happy to people as you go about your errands and notice how people instantly respond. If you were in a bad mood, the same thing would happen. You would attract negative people to you. I truly believe you can attract good things right to you merely by sending out good positive thoughts. I am always positive I will get a front row parking spot wherever I go and 98% of the time I do get one! :)

For me be happy it really is an "attitude" thing. Be grateful, accept things for what they are (like the weeds outside my window...they're sort of pretty when you think of them as a living thing :)) I used to get in the worst moods just thinking about all the things that needed to be fixed in my house or I would stress out over all that I needed to get done. Now I find stressing over those things sort of ridiculous. Stressing won't get those things done!? What's the point.

Theresa Ragan on September 25, 2009 at 10:11 PM said...

Trish, it seems like you're keeping a great attitude with eating less and exercising. It's a slow process and many people give up because they get frustrated. How do you stay on your journey toward losing weight when the scale refuses to budge?

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on September 25, 2009 at 10:44 PM said...

Theresa, my main motivation is my family in that my parents and other family members have all kinds of health issues that are a direct result of not making healthy choices. I do not want to start having all kinds of health problems if I can avoid them.

Plus, it just feels so good when I do the things I'm supposed to. When I give in to temptation food-wise, I always feel like kicking myself afterward -- unless it's a treat that I've balanced out with good behavior (like extra exercise).

So far, I've been pretty fortunate with the scales. Some weeks it moves more than others, but overall it's going in the right direction.

Michelle Butler on September 26, 2009 at 12:56 PM said...

The 100 secrets book is at my sister's place, so I can't pull it off the shelf to check it. I don't remember specifics as much as I remember the areas it focused most on: attitude, relationships, health, fitness, finances...
I do have the success principles on my shelf, and I do really like it. I can share some of those. It has stuff like determine your purpose in life, your mission, your 100% responsible for your life, etc.
Another great source for positivity is all those coaching books. I started a coaching program at work last year and read a bunch of them to know what I was doing. I particularly like Martha Beck's stuff.

Theresa Ragan on September 26, 2009 at 1:45 PM said...

Trish, being healthy and avoiding health issues is a great motivator to eat right and exercise. I always kick myself afterward when I "pig out" so I know what you mean.

Michelle, I think I'll have to get that 100 secrets book! I do love Martha Beck's stuff. I also love Eckhart Tolle and The Four Agreements book by Don Miguel Ruiz:

Be Impeccable with your word (say what you mean)

Don't take things personally (you know how sometimes you automatically think someone canceled because they don't like you, etc., etc., when they really just couldn't make it!? :))

Don't Assume! We all know what that does!!!

Always do Your Best. I love this one because you always feel good if you've given something your all.

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