This is a good practical exercise for quickly improving your immediate attitude. It’s an “upper” that often works for me.
The exercise can involve several additional steps as described below but I think the basic “stop-smile-be” steps are the most important; you can delete or add the other steps based on what works for you personally.
Stop. Give your mind a quick break. Stop thinking about everything that is racing through your mind for a minute, particularly if feeling stressed or confused.
This is easy to do while walking down the street, driving your car or during mundane activities. Even during complex work you can look out the window for a minute, or just close your eyes, and take a mental break.
By the way, taking regular breaks to look out in the distance is also good for your eyes. Stretch breaks are good for your body as well. And breaking your train of thought is good for your mind.
Big “true” smiling is a critical step in this exercise. The physical act of making a big Duchenne smile will definitely make a positive difference in your attitude. Just try it … scientific tests show that it works but much more important is your personal experience.
The more things you find to smile about during a day the better you will feel. Develop the habit of easily breaking into a big smile, and feeling it, at the slightest excuse. It’s said that as people get older their happy or grumpy look develops into a permanent expression. Strive to become one of the happy ones.
I find that the process of doing a careful, sequential look-listen-feel tends to get me out of my head and back into physical reality. What I do is first carefully look around me, especially for things I like. Then I listen. Then I try to sense my feelings both about my surroundings and within my body. It’s an excellent step towards being here now.
Really sinking into and recognizing your feelings of the moment helps the bad ones pass on naturally and helps the good ones grow. A big true smile will have started this process anyway.
If you are having problems with bad feelings and are religious the welcoming prayer exercise for some ideas on how to help them dissipate naturally.
Be Here Now top
Be Here Now! Let the past and future disappear, they are just mental constructs, and get into the present. Stop, see and smell the many roses (i.e., the good things) around you. For at least a moment just do your best to “be here now” fully enjoying where you are at the moment.
I find it is fairly easy to come up with 2-3 things just observed that I “like” since that just implies that I prefer having something to not having it. I.e., I have a natural desire to move towards it (tropism).
Love, in this context, means caring strongly about something. It is a much stronger word than like.
Exercise your gratitude muscle. Mentally note (or better yet verbally speak out to yourself) the many things in the immediate present you have for which to be thankful. Listing three things I’m grateful for is a good number for me; one thing doesn’t push me and four is too much. Make sure you actually “feel” grateful for them.
In my case I often notice the great weather, the way I’m physically feeling, my dogs, or beautiful scenery. Recognizing the many great things that do exist about your immediate situation is an upper. Regardless of how bad the “past” or the “future” feels or how much better someone else may seem to have it in a particular situation, I find that the immediate present is often excellent!
As an obvious but often overlooked aside, those of us with the education and resources to read this Internet page were born far luckier than much of the World’s population. Notice how good you’ve really got it in general and in particular within this moment! Building your gratitude muscle will definitely help improve your morale.
This involves starting from scratch, clean and fresh from where you are at, as if the past had never happened. Rebooting often works well for fixing your computer and the Stop-Smile-Be exercise similarly often work wells for attitude problems.
A rebooting trick I find productive is to mentally look at the situation as if it were a completely new challenge and the next job is to make the most of it. The past is dead and buried, forgiven and gone. The challenge of the now situation is all that exists. Very top athletes are able to handle game situations this way.
In a very real sense all that truly exists is this immediate moment in this day. As my favorite ancient Sanskrit poem states: “The past is but a memory and the future is only a hope.” The most you can really do is your best with what you are given right now.
- I notice that actually stopping and verbally saying each step makes a difference. Each step tends to register better on my mind when it is verbalized. The steps I actually say are “Stop Smile BeHereNow … Look Listen Feel … Like3Things” which reminds me to say three things I like about what I am experiencing right now.