You don’t have to be a grump?

Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? We tend to have either a positive nature or not from childhood onward. You either know this someone who is always a “downer” or grumpy or perhaps is it you! Last year when I studied Happiness, yes with a captital H, I learned about rewiring the brain. It is so simple and easy. Have a read of Heather Yamada-Hosley’s article and see if you can begin to add some strategies to your life. I promise with dedication to the practices outlined you too can be an easy- going, light hearted person too.

How Negative Thinkers Can Train Themselves to Stop Being Grumps

Positive thinking has a ton of benefits, from expanding your creativity to boosting your health, but if you’re prone to a more negative outlook, it can be hard to see the glass as half full. Here’s how you can retrain your brain to become a more positive thinker.

Just like any life skill, learning to become positive takes practice and effort. You’re not going to transform into someone who always sees everything as good overnight, but you can focus your effort in a couple ways to move towards a more positive mindset.

Do something nice for someone else. When we help others, even strangers, it feels good. Open a door for the person after you, offer to take a tourist’s photo so their whole group can be in the shot, or ask someone who looks lost if they need directions.
Celebrate small victories. Look for little joys or wins in your day-to-day life. Maybe the sun was shining just right on your walk to work or you finished a project the moment before your boss messaged you about it.
Practice compassion meditation. As the New York Times lays out, this type of meditation helps your health overall. It can rewire your brain to make positive connections, strengthen your heart, and impact your social relationships. Even just a few minutes a day can make a difference.
Be kind to yourself. Negative thoughts about our own insecurities or perceived failures can be especially tough to deal with, so make an effort to be kind to yourself instead of beating yourself up over a mistake. Think about things you are good at or that you do well as a reminder of who you are as a whole.
Your goal to become more positive doesn’t have to end in you seeing the silver lining in every situation, especially if that’s just not your personality. But you can work towards being a bit more positive, which leads to enjoying life more each day.

Compasssion Meditation

30 minutes a day for two weeks.

HOW TO DO IT

This exercise draws on a guided meditation created by researcher Helen Weng and her colleagues at the Center for Healthy Minds (CHM) at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Dr. Weng called this meditation a “compassion meditation,” though a similar kind of meditation is also referred to as a “loving-kindness meditation.”

We recommend listening to audio of this guided meditation in the player below; you can also download it from the CHM’s website. We have included a script of this meditation to help you follow it yourself or teach it to others. In brackets are the lengths of the pauses in the original guided meditation, to give you a sense of how much time to allot to each step.

Settling

Please settle into a comfortable position and allow yourself to relax.

Take a deep breath and release. [2 seconds] For a few moments, just focus on your breath and clear your mind of worries. Notice when you are breathing in … and breathing out. Let yourself experience and be aware of the sensations of breathing. [10 seconds]

Loving-kindness & Compassion for a Loved One

Picture someone who is close to you, someone toward whom you feel a great amount of love. Notice how this love feels in your heart.

Notice the sensations around your heart. Perhaps you feel a sensation of warmth, openness, and tenderness. [10 seconds]

Continue breathing, and focus on these feelings as you visualize your loved one. As you breathe out, imagine that you are extending a golden light that holds your warm feelings from the center of your heart. Imagine that the golden light reaches out to your loved one, bringing him or her peace and happiness. At the same time, silently recite these phrases.

May you have happiness.

May you be free from suffering.

May you experience joy and ease.

May you have happiness.

May you be free from suffering.

May you experience joy and ease.

[1 minute]

As you silently repeat these phrases, remember to extend the golden light to your loved one from your heart. Feel with all your heart that you wish your loved one happiness and freedom from suffering.

Compassion for a Loved One

Now think of a time when this person was suffering. Maybe they experienced an illness, an injury, or a difficult time in a relationship. [15 seconds]

Notice how you feel when you think of his or her suffering. How does your heart feel? Do the sensations change? Do you continue to feel warmth, openness and tenderness? Are there other sensations, perhaps an aching sensation? [10 seconds]

Continue to visualize your loved one as you breathe.  Imagine that you are extending the golden light from your heart to your loved one, and that the golden light is easing his or her suffering. Extend this light out to them during your exhalation, with the strong heartfelt wish that they be free from his or her suffering. Recite silently to him or her:

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness.

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness.

[1 minute]

Notice how this feels in your heart. What happened to your heart? Did the sensations change? Did you continue to feel warmth, openness and tenderness? Were there other sensations, an aching sensation perhaps? Did you have a wish to take away the other’s suffering?  [30 seconds]

Compassion for Self

Contemplate a time when you have suffered yourself. Perhaps you experienced a conflict with someone you care about, or did not succeed in something you wanted, or were physically ill. [15 seconds]

Notice how you feel when you think of your suffering. How does your heart feel? Do you continue to feel warmth, openness, and tenderness? Are there other sensations, perhaps an aching sensation? [10 seconds]

Just as we wish for our loved one’s suffering to end, we wish that our own suffering would end. We may also envision our own pain and suffering leaving us so that we may experience happiness.

Continue to visualize yourself as you breathe. Imagine that the golden light emanating from your heart is easing your suffering. With each exhalation, feel the light emanating within you, with the strong heartfelt wish that you be free from your suffering. Silently recite to yourself:

May I be free from this suffering.

May I have joy and happiness.

May I be free from this suffering.

May I have joy and happiness.

[2 minutes]

Again, notice how this feels in your heart. What kind of sensations did you feel? Did they change from when you were envisioning your own suffering? How is this feeling different from when you wished your loved one’s suffering to be relieved? Did you feel warmth, openness and tenderness? Were there other sensations such as pressure? Did you have a wish to take away your own suffering? [30 seconds]

Compassion for a Neutral Person

Now visualize someone you neither like nor dislike—someone you may see in your everyday life, such as a classmate with whom you are not familiar, a bus driver, or a stranger you pass on the street. [5 seconds]

Although you are not familiar with this person, think of how this person may suffer in his or her own life. This person may also have conflicts with loved ones, or struggled with an addiction, or may have suffered illness. Imagine a situation in which this person may have suffered. [30 seconds]

Notice your heart center. Does it feel different? Do you feel more warmth, openness and tenderness? Are there other sensations, perhaps an aching sensation? How does your heart feel different from when you were envisioning your own or a loved one’s suffering?  [10 seconds]

Continue to visualize this person as you breathe. Imagine that you are extending the golden light from your heart to them, and that the golden light is easing his or her suffering. Extend this light out to them during your exhalation, with the strong heartfelt wish that he or she be free from suffering. See if this wish can be as strong as the wish for your own or a loved one’s suffering to be relieved.  Silently recite to him or her:

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness.

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness.

[2 minutes]

Again, notice how this feels in your heart. Did the sensations change from when you were envisioning this person’s suffering? Did you continue to feel warmth, openness and tenderness? Were there other sensations? Did you have a wish to take away this person’s suffering? How were these feelings different from when you were wishing to take away your own or a loved one’s suffering? [30 seconds]

Compassion for an Enemy

Now visualize someone with whom you have difficulty in your life. This may be a parent or child with whom you disagree, an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, a roommate with whom you had an argument, or a co-worker with whom you do not get along. [5 seconds]

Although you may have negative feelings towards this person, think of how this person has suffered in his or her own life. This person has also had conflicts with loved ones, or has dealt with failures, or may have suffered illness. Think of a situation in which this person may have suffered. [30 seconds]

Notice your heart center. Does it feel different? Do you feel more warmth, openness and tenderness? Are there other sensations, perhaps an aching sensation? How does your heart feel different from when you were envisioning your own or a loved one’s suffering? [10 seconds]

Continue to visualize this person as you breathe. Imagine that you are extending the golden light from your heart to him or her, and that the golden light is easing his or her suffering. Extend this light out to him or her during your exhalation, with the strong heartfelt wish that he or she be free from suffering. See if this wish can be as strong as the wish for your own or a loved one’s suffering to be relieved. Silently recite to him or her:

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness.

[1 minute]

If you have difficulty in wishing for this person’s suffering to be relieved, you may think of a positive interaction you have had with this person that can help you in wishing them joy and happiness. Perhaps there were times when you got along, laughed together, or worked well together on an assignment. Continue to silently recite:

May you be free from this suffering.

May you have joy and happiness.

[2 minutes]

Again, notice how this feels in your heart. Did the sensations change? Did you feel warmth, openness and tenderness? How were these feelings different from when you were wishing for your own or a loved one’s suffering to end? Were there other sensations, perhaps a tightness in the chest? Did you have a wish to take away this person’s suffering? [30 seconds]

Compassion for All Beings

Now that we are almost at the end of this meditation, let’s end with wish for all other beings’ suffering to be relieved. Just as I wish to have peace, happiness, and to be free from suffering, so do all beings. [10 seconds]

Now bask in the joy of this open-hearted wish to ease the suffering of all people and how this attempt brings joy, happiness, and compassion in your heart at this very moment.

You have now finished this compassion meditation session.