Why is it so difficult to maintain a positive mindset?
Benefits of a positive mind
A positive mind brings us closer to the present. A positive outlook is like electricity. It cannot be stored, but we can convert the energy of positivity into something useful to the world, and it lives on through ensuing contributions.
A positive mind does not seek to possess or store up for the future. As long as a positive outlook is maintained, energy keeps flowing into the mind. There is little or no mental burden, and there is a feeling of lightness that permeates the entire being. A positive mind harbors no fear and being positive significantly blunts the effects of stress. It makes us flexible, and this leads to contentment.
A positive mind bends to accommodate any situation just as a baby is very flexible and can twist its spine effortlessly. A flexible mind is the backbone of humility, a quality that endears us to the world. Simplicity goes along with a positive mind. Simple living implies not comparing ourselves with others or living to a certain standard imposed by the mind. Any comparison complicates life and leads to jealousy which can drain positivity in a flash.
Obstacles to maintaining a positive mind
The main obstacle in creating and maintaining a positive mindset is the ego. Just as a river has to give up its name, and its entire wealth in the form of its fresh water to merge with the sea, we will have to lessen the influence and eventually give up the ego to indefinitely sustain a positive mind.
Giving up the ego is the hardest thing to do, even if it means a light and positive mind with all its benefits. The ego makes it seem like it is inflicting self-harm when we try to decrease its influence in our lives. To go along with this, habits and conditioning keep the mind going in a specific direction, not always positive.
The ego and habits are two anchors that keep the mind from being flexible. A positive mind and success in the world go hand in hand. If we are not careful, the worldly success that goes along with a positive outlook can enhance the strength of the ego. When the ego balloons, there will be an inner correction to reset the balance, and the mind turns away from positivity. Positivity in outlook and the ego cannot coexist for long.
Ways to turn the mind towards the positive
If we cannot quickly tamp down the influence of the ego or let go of entrenched habits, there are other ways to inject positivity into the mind.
A positive mind is self-sustaining. Initially, it takes some effort to prime the mind towards positivity, but once established, it continues on that course with little effort.
One way to turn the orientation of the mind towards positivity is to actively recruit and seed appropriate thoughts and ideas into the field of the conscious mind. This process may be compared to planting a seasonal crop. Once the harvest is complete and the crop has served its purpose, a new crop will have to be planted. Similarly, thoughts are not permanent, even positive ones. They will have to be continuously replenished.
The conscious mind is not a constant presence. It fades in and out all the time. So keeping the conscious mind positive all the time requires active participation on our part. It is time-consuming and can be exhausting. Besides, it leaves little time for other activities.
Another way of tipping the balance of thoughts towards the positive is a passive approach. It involves taking a step back and observing the flow of thoughts. It is less exhausting than the active method of continually seeding the mind with beneficial thoughts.
When witnessing the flow of thoughts without any intervention on our part, the mind becomes free to take any path it wants. However, since we are witnessing and not in the path stream, there is no great danger of the mind taking us where we don’t want to go.
The main advantage of witnessing the thought stream is the very act of observing the flow slows down the flow. Along with the slowing of the thought stream, thoughts also begins to thin out, creating space in the mind. This creates an opportunity to set an intention, which could be anything positive.
While setting an intention, it is essential to note that we must not have any expectation of a result. The moment we entertain expectation, we sow seeds of negativity which will eventually take over.
An intention repeated once with deep concentration and in a relatively thought free setting is far more influential on the mind than repeating the intention over and over again competing with and trying to drown out other thoughts. It is like trying to shout louder than thunder.
An intention creates a bridge across the temporary nature of thoughts. A sincere intention is not linked to any one particular thought but creates a safe passage to decouple awareness from thoughts.
A bridge can safely take us across a swiftly flowing river or a slow moving one. The currents may be strong and rapid, making it extremely dangerous to swim across, but when there is a bridge, we can stroll across the river with no fear. Similarly, as thoughts ebb and flow, the intention remains static and creates a safe harbor for our awareness.
Ultimately, a positive mind is dependent on where our awareness lies. If it is on the past or the future, there is scope for fear to take over. When awareness is in the present, there is little scope for comparison and opens the door for contentment. Being content is the foundation of a positive mind.