“The unfortunate superpower of the negative is that it has a stronger impact than the positive.”
- Walter Chen
Maintaining a positive outlook has been a real mission for me for almost a decade. It initially started when I found myself as an overwhelmed mom of two and 'losing it' daily - more than I wanted to admit. A few books later and lots of internet-ing, I learned that our brains are actually wired to pay more attention to the negative as a survival instinct. It is no wonder then, how easy it is to get stuck in negative thought loops, especially when life gets tough.
The good news is, with regular practice, we can rewire our brains to respond differently. In Shawn Achor’s book, The Happiness Advantage, he writes: “Happiness is a work ethic...it’s something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train...we can retrain the brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels.”
And there are many studies that prove (check out the Tetris Effect) that when we can begin to identify situations that we know cause a negative response within, we can take advantage of our brains plasticity so over time, like a newly walked path in the woods, once taken over and over, the path becomes easier to find.
The first practice I began when trying to pave a new path to positivity was meditation - taking advantage of the breath to calm and reset my mind. I vividly remember the first few times I felt I was going down a negative thought loop and telling myself, 'ok, you can take advantage of this knowledge and start using it right now or you can do what you always do and then feel even worse later.' Even if it takes a few times, recognizing that making that choice is what counts and overtime you begin to make that decision much easier and faster.
It was also through meditation, that I began to envision some of the symbols that are seen in a lot of my paintings. And the first questions people usually ask me after seeing the paintings, are about the meanings of 'the symbols'. The symbols were first created as messaging - painting them on canvas so they could be put up on my walls as constant and encouraging reminders. Although I won't get into the details here about the varied symbols and their meanings, (more on that soon) the overall themes around my symbols center on maintaining balance, forward thinking, equality and of course, positivity.
Maintaining a positive outlook doesn't just simply stop at understanding how our brains work and how we can rewire them. It is also about making positive decisions within our lifestyle and routines. Regular exercise (get out of the house and connect with the body/breath) a healthy diet (eating nutrient rich foods that give us energy, not deplete it), maintaining solid friendships (a sense of community with like minded individuals to share what we know and receive new perspectives) and mindfulness (being present in the moment) are just a few that have helped me on my journey.
+ MC +
For more on the 'Symbol Series', check out some works here in my shop.