Sunday, October 6, 2013

What a Positive Dog Can Teach You

This is a post from my new blog "A Year of Christian Mindfulness" that I used as a teaching for our Loving Someone with Mental Illness support group.  Enjoy!

One of the books that's helped me to put on a happy face during some tough times is "The Positive Dog" by Jon Gordon.  It's all about a dog in a kennel who has the right to be miserable, is miserable and scares off potential owners because of it.  One of the other dogs in the kennel promised God that if he lived through a house fire, we would be positive and happy.  Here's some of the things I got from the book:

  • Positive people live longer.  One study of nuns found that the cheerful nuns lived 10 years longer than the grumpy nuns. 
  • Marriages are most likely to succeed when the couple has a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. 
Jon's best tips really are related to mindfulness.
  • Smile.  A real smile produces serotonin in the brain.
  • Laugh.  My rule is:  If I haven't laughed hard by 9 p.m., I watch or read something funny.
  • Choose to feel "blessed" rather than "stressed." Think of three things you are grateful for whenever you feel stressed. 
  • Adopt the No Complaining rule. No complaining until you have two possible solutions to the problem.
  • Focus on the present moment. My tip:  If you get really upset or anxious, do a walking meditation ... walk around and focus on the feel of your feet on the ground and your lower legs moving through space.  Or do a nature meditation ... go outside and focus on what you see and hear around you, praising God for each individual thing you notice.
  • Look for opportunity in challenges. Life is hard. What can you learn from this?
  • Practice peace and kindness.  Be the change you want to see in the world, as Gandhi famously said. Be nice. Encourage others. 
  • Pray and meditate on Scripture. This reduces stress, boosts positivity, and enhances health, vitality and longevity.
  • Choose faith instead of fear. All negativity is rooted in fear.  Fear believes in a negative future. Faith believes that your ultimate future will be good.

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