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Living In Joy - Community Thoughts On Optimism

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016


Today is my oldest granddaughter's thirteenth birthday. She's a teenager. This sparkling child I barely know and may never see again is growing so fast it's a bit breathless. Wasn't it just yesterday she was born and I made these booties to hang on the Christmas tree? How I miss her.

There's a lot of opportunity in this day to allow myself to wallow in the loss of my access to my grandchildren. That's not what I chose to do. I'm an optimist, and my personality will quickly leave the grief and frustration behind and move forward with joy and expectation.

I'll grant you I'm an extreme case, but the same principles apply to the optimistic personality at large. An optimist won't go there, and if we do we don't stay there very long. "This too shall pass." The older you're lucky enough to become the more you understand that concept and stop fighting so hard.

Weaselcracker and I have been having an ongoing conversation over the past year or so about the optimistic personality and practical ways to train ourselves to default to gratitude. Gratitude is the natural expression of the highly evolved personality and the attitude that brings you the greatest benefit, mentally, spiritually and physiologically. This "feeling" generates a spontaneous release of tension throughout the body and allows the mind to more easily process life and it's many challenges.

From a healing perspective I believe the cultivation of an attitude rich in joy and gratitude will assist the endocannabinoid system in getting your body back to homeostasis, that balance point where you are the best that you can be. This system responds dramatically to your emotions. Want to get sick really fast? Generate thoughts of fear, loss, anger, irritation, hate. Before you know it sickness will come calling. It may not be noticeable, but you can be assured, somewhere in your DNA your thoughts caused a mutation that you'll discover somewhere along the line.

Something new life brought for you to experience. :3:

Alternatively, one can literally think a sick and wounded body back to health and wholeness. It requires the banishment of all negative emotion, something most of us would be severely challenged to undertake. But you don't have to get there overnight, and half the fun is in the journey anyway, isn't it?

I believe that when you care more about the way you "feel" than anything else, you'll see change in your life. Positive change in all facets of your life.

For someone like me, this path to continuous joyful expression was easier to follow than for someone with a more negative and fearful approach to life. Those of us tending to optimism often don't understand why those who aren't optimistic choose to stay negative in the face of all the evidence that points to the futility of negativity as a lifestyle.

Those who aren't optimistic by nature think optimists are nuts, and don't have much idea about how the optimists manage to pull it off. Because the truth of the matter is that the optimist isn't that positively charged without priming and training. We take deliberate steps that we customize for our individual personalities, but make no mistake about it, we train ourselves. In the beginning it's difficult for some of us too, but our innate personalities push us forward to the point when it begins to become a natural expression. We train ourselves to default to gratitude.

In one of those recent conversations it occurred to me that we could make use of a training guide, of sorts. Practical steps we optimists take to train our egos to get out of the way and let life flow through us to our benefit. The optimist believes without doubt that only good lies ahead. We've told ourselves that so many times that we believe it. That's why we're so optimistic. :laugh2:

I'd like to begin a conversation on how you train yourself to become and stay optimistic. I'll share my thoughts and techniques, you share yours, everyone roots around and we discuss how to include these little things into one's daily life. To become joyful takes deliberate application.

Let's be deliberate together and help each other gain greater heights of optimism, joy, gratitude. We grow the best cannabis most of us have seen, and the greatest percentage of us joyfully indulge in our harvests. We're a happy folk to begin with. My hope is that by having this discussion we can help those struggling to find a method that works for them.

We all feel a little lost sometimes. Let's leave some breadcrumbs. Please share what works for you. You should know by now I'm going to share mine. :4: :love:

:5: :love:
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
My Choices

The way I saw it, I had one of two choices in life: to live reacting in fear to the challenges life presented or to train myself to be ready to face those challenges with optimism and an understanding that it's all going to work out anyway, so stress is not needed.

In other words, I deliberately chose to live a proactive, fearless life filled with promise and potential instead of a reactive life filled with fear and frustration. The choice was mine, and mine alone. There was no "good choice" or "bad choice," but the choices did have repercussions. Choose the proactive life and there's an ease that fills your days, as you confidently perform your duties and chores, knowing there's nothing you can't overcome, no circumstance beyond your reach, if your desire is great enough. Choose to live a life reacting to the ups and downs of daily living and your days will be a concert of frustration, loneliness, fear, trepidation, insecurity...... You get the picture.

What we're going to attempt here is to develop a repository of ideas you can scroll through, ideas that some of us have found to be successful ways to conquer those negative emotions and get back to a more positive mindset. So let's talk a moment about how we react and emotional momentum.

Everyone reacts. It's part of being human. The optimist reacts too. You should be here some day when SweetSue reacts to something she's not happy about. :laugh2: I yell and holler and stamp my foot in defiance too, but at some point early into that rant I'll deliberately stop myself and change the momentum. That momentum is what gets you into deep trouble. Let it build up enough energy and you'll lose control of the emotional response.

You know the emotional negativity is coming. If you're honest with yourself you'll admit that there's a tell in yourself. The negative emotion awakens. You feel it begin to move. At this point you have a trained response, and if you don't find a way to halt that building momentum you're going to end up having that trained response. For many of us, the trained response is a negative one.

I'm going to suggest that it's more important to be concerned with the way you feel than anything else. Let me explain. When you feel a negative emotion you create tension in the system. That tension effectively shuts down your body's ability to heal and your brain's ability to think clearly.

Here's a radical thought - the worst time to try to work through a frustrating problem is when you're frustrated. What you really need at the point of frustration is to take your mind on a mini-vacation and think a happier thought. Take a break so the answers have a chance to come through.

When you're frustrated the answers won't come. They'll come when you have a moment of calm, when you deliberately choose not to think that frustrating thought anymore.

When I feel that negative emotion begin to stir I sometimes physically turn my back on it and choose to think a thought that's easier, happier, lacking in any negativity. It's a matter of training, or at least that's my experience. I've recently learned it has much to do with letting go of judgement. That's a tough one to swallow, but I have a personal belief that we're all individual expressions of the same cosmic force, so being angry or upset with you means I'm really upset and angry with me. That philosophy makes my letting go of judgement ..........easier. Lol! I have my moments too. :laugh2:

I've discovered that each time I make this deliberate choice I feel stronger, calmer, more at peace with myself. This is a good thing.

But it came down to that momentum. I've lived most of my life in emotional overdrive. I'm an overly-sensitive person to begin with, and there's no training for that really. My husband was an incredibly tolerant man who sheltered me for 35 years with his unconditional love. When I went into emotional overdrive, a brief stop in the loving safety of his arms would slow me down. His death brought me face-to-face with the reality that I'd never trained myself to do that on my own. I had to find a way to slow that momentum down.

The trick for me was to be deliberate in the thoughts I chose to have. Certainly I have thoughts of sadness and confusion too, but I've learned to see them coming from a great distance and wave as I choose to take a more joyful thought path. It took a while. There were many tearful thoughts of failure and "this will never work." I'm really no different from anyone else. I'm just better trained.

Watch for your triggers and choose to turn away. Sometimes it'll work. Sometimes it won't, but I suspect that there'll come a time when it works once and you'll let yourself be excited about that. Then it'll happen again and you'll know you can duplicate it. From there on out its just practice.

Have fun with it. Life is meant to be fun.

:Namaste:
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
An experiment in gratitude. How to change your life for the better, 17 seconds at a time.

I'm what many call an irrepressible optimist. That suggests that I always see the world in a positive way. I'll grant you, I maintain a positive approach to life, and I believe without question that all things work out for the best and there's a solution to every challenge.

But I wasn't born this optimistic, and I've spent most of my adult life training myself to approach life based on believing in the impossible. I wanted miracles in my life. I don't desire to be happy. I'm shooting for joyful. I'm training myself to default the system to gratitude.

Previous to finding :420: I wasn't aware we had an endocannabinoid system. Since arriving here I've begun to study the system and ways to use cannabis to enhance the system's ability to heal. I've come to believe that the emotional response my body has to gratitude will help my ECS perform its many functions more efficiently.

One of the more intriguing aspects of research on the ECS is the suggestion that the system determines personality. Ok...... then wouldn't that also suggest that if you can train yourself to be optimistic it would change the brain chemistry in some way that would help you see the world from a less stressful perspective? It was the idea that connected reduced stress with reduced tension leading to reduced inflammation that caught my attention. Inflammation is the root cause of all those maladies we associate with aging. Not something I was interested in experiencing. :laugh2:

I began to rethink my personal approach to being optimistic.

For many years, before I learned of the ECS, I made the mistake of trying to recreate a memory that carried the emotional response I needed - to transport myself to the memory, and thereby get through on its coat tails. In times of extreme crisis, those memories slipped beneath the panic and fear, becoming unreachable just when I needed them most. I hadn't prepared for that when my husband died and life froze momentarily. Even those of us who bubble with joy have moments of confusion.

I began to train myself to deliberately default to the emotional response of gratitude. Find the memory, familiarize myself with the feeling of gratitude. Get real familiar with it. I didn't want a casual date. I was looking at a commitment for eternity.

Then I trained myself to take two slow, deep breaths. Mine time out at 23 seconds, well beyond the 17-second goal I'm going to suggest you attempt. Two slow, deep breaths in complete relaxation.

My daughter struggled with asthma as a child. I trained her to force the exhale and to imagine that she was forcing that air from her lungs and through a small hole in her lower back. She then relaxed every muscle in her body and allowed the fresh air to return to her lungs. We'd repeat that until she had her breathing under control. Many a time it saved us a trip to the hospital.

Force the exhale, and relax the entire body. Allow the rejuvenating air to rush back in without resistance. I relaxed and continued training until I could trigger it at will.

The next step was to train myself to initiate a gratitude dump on that initial forced exhale. I found trigger words that set the hormonal dump in action at will. When I allow the inhalation to flow I simultaneously allow my entire being to fill with that emotional response I associate with gratitude. I can do this now at the drop of a hat.

17 seconds. That's the starting point. I caught on fast, but I've been dipping my toes into the cosmic side of reality all my life. I made it a game. I understood that the more pressure I created - the more I "worked at it" - the longer it was going to take, so I let go of my need to control every minute and let it cascade.

I have to share that it's a rather delicious feeling and I usually go longer than two breaths. :laugh2:

Here's the big takeaway:

Care more about the way you feel than anything else.

Deliberately choose to feel joyful and grateful.​

Every time I did this - took two slow breaths and allowed myself to experience a moment of gratitude - I now knew I was giving my ECS a breathing space of its own. This system controls the signaling that heals your body and makes you the unique individual you are. Face it, we all have stress. Stress causes tension. Tension disrupts the ability of your ECS to work efficiently. This 17 seconds of relief from that tension will help you heal and keep you on the course of healing.

It also helped my brain relax. This is inevitable if you practice this technique, if only for that 17 seconds. The emotional response of gratitude includes absolute release of tension. I try to get in ten minutes a day somewhere, but I don't stress about it if I miss. I'm well-trained at this point to grab those rejuvenating breaths.

Don't discount the value of that brief respite. Your ECS is a gloriously marvelous creative system. It runs on emotion. You get to choose the emotion. I chose gratitude, and marvelous things started to happen in my life.

As my brain relaxed and learned to release the tension - 17 seconds at a time, if need be - opportunities began to appear. I began to understand that they'd been there all along, waiting for me to slow down and notice them. The better I got at being grateful for every moment in my life, and I assure you, my personal life has some painful drama of its own, the faster things began to happen. Positive things. Unexpected things. Delightful things.

This is fun. I needed to share. This can't be an isolated case of one woman being positive. I think this can be useful to others and I offer it up as that and that alone. Be content in your own self. Try adding a little deliberate gratitude to the mix when life looks frustrating or fearful or lonely. It can't hurt to try.

:Namaste:
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Alright, I'm done talking for now. It's your turn. :4: :love:
 

GhettoGro

Well-Known Member
Having suffered from severe depression at times over the years, I really needed to read your words here today. Bless you Sue, your serenity is infectious to me :love:

So sad about not getting to see your grand daughter much. She is missing out on a very cool Grandma.
 

Rifleman

Member of the Month: Mar 2016 - Plant of the Month: Nov 2015
I heard this every morning for several years. It wasn't until the last few years, as I've slowed down from the rat race, that it struck me what a wonderful philosophy it is.

"Welcome to this brand new day. This day has never been lived before. It’s a blank canvas. If you will it so, it can be your masterpiece. As you wake up this morning think of three things you’re grateful for and then get out there and live this day with all the joy, wonder and enthusiasm you can muster."
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Having suffered from severe depression at times over the years, I really needed to read your words here today. Bless you Sue, your serenity is infectious to me :love:

So sad about not getting to see your grand daughter much. She is missing out on a very cool Grandma.
This made the effort all worth while. :5::5::5::5::5:
 

SL2222

Well-Known Member
Beautiful blog, Susan.

This has been top priority for the last few years. I am partnered with one of the most negative, pessimistic, cynical people I've ever met. I let his attitude drag me down. I love him dearly, and he's so wonderful in so many ways, but as a super sensitive person so eager to please and fit in with others, I realized that I'd let myself become the essence of those things.

I'm making the choice of no more. I can love and have fun with somebody and not take on their negative attributes. I have to learn how. And I will :)

My parents are also the epitome of fear. Everything in life is done out of fear. Even their love for us children is defined by their fear of losing us. They didn't raise us to figure out what we loved, wanted, find what brought us joy in this world and go after it - they raised us to be afraid of leaving the house, leaving them, disappointing others, taking risks.

When I first realized this, I blamed them. Which is sad and unfair. I see it now for what it is, so I am one of the lucky ones who sees it and CAN move on from these things. And then maybe make their lives happier and lighter in the process.

That is my hope, anyway. Somehow, I'll get there. I'm not a natural optimist, but I'm not naturally negative, either. I learned the negativity and fear and I can learn the optimism.


One of the things that helps is brain-wave entrainment. Specifically, I really love Jeffrey Gignac's products - Passive Brain Fitness. I stopped doing it when I started the hemp oil as I'm not sure if anything brain-altering is compatible with brain-wave technology. And, I wasn't as consistent as I should have been, which is one of my traits I need to work through. I remember 2 glorious months after I moved here where I was super consistent with this, and I felt great. I was more calm, optimistic, productive and energetic. Oh, how easily I forget these things when I get off track. This is actually how I managed to get over my fear of driving enough to make the drive to my parents' every day. I couldn't do it before this time. Hmmmmm..... Amazing how revelations come through writing, isn't it? I wonder how this affects the endocannabinoid system.....

Maybe this is why I'm so long-winded? I have a lot to work out! And you poor souls have to hear me do it.

As I've already mentioned, exercise is my lifeline. The type of exercise differs throughout the years, but I was lucky enough to find the joy of moving (for my own sake, not for the sake of sports or PE, etc) in Middle School. When I became sick, I couldn't exercise anymore. I had severe muscle aches for over a year, and any type of exercise, even the most gentle, Callanetics-type or even stretching, was agonizing. Even after the 24/7 aches went away, any exercise made me ache for days, like I had a bad flu and would wipe out my energy. And this is why I have a love affair with every exercise or movement session, great walk or playtime. I appreciate it so much.

Reading self-help books help. Even if I don't remember or implement any of it, the act of reading it alone fills me with hope, optimism and general feel-goods. As a former atheist, I recently re-discovered praying, and in the last month, I literally prayed my way out of two panic attacks. The reason it works is highly debatable, but it doesn't even matter, does it? It feels good.

I believe in being stress-free and optimistic, because all my fretting and stressing solved NOTHING. NOTHING. It just gave me a sicker body. I am still working it out.

Susan, you definitely help a lot :)
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Sara..... :5: :love:
 

Lazarus13

Well-Known Member
I figure it like this... We have on average, what, 80 years on this spinning ball of rock? Some get more, some get less... Its all luck of the genetic draw. You never know when your last breath may be or what your last words to the people that mean the most to you will be. You can exist in fear and hesitation, anger, loneliness, misery... Or you can try to cram as much love and joy and happiness into you brief stay in this plane of existence as you possibly can. Tell the people you love that you love them as often as you can... Those may be your last words to them. If you have a chance to experience something you never have, take it because that chance may never come again.
Holding grudges takes valuable energy that i would rather spend guiding my beautiful little daughter into the, at times overwhelming and often times scary, world we live in today.
I take life in small pieces and try to get as much out of each small piece as i possibly can.
Watching the speed at which my little girl is growing up has really put my own mortality into focus and i refuse to waste what time i may have left not enjoying my life.
 

Rich Farmer

Well-Known Member
Hey sue. We PM'd a bit about this last night and I put it to use today. Instead of my normal thoughts and worries, I cared more about how I felt. I focused on joy and gratitude when my mind would drift to something negative instead of letting it consume me. Today I sang some fun songs out loud and in my head and thought about my grow when I started thinking of something sour. 17 sec. What a difference. Today was a great day.

You must be some kinda psychic miracle worker. :thanks:
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Hey sue. We PM'd a bit about this last night and I put it to use today. Instead of my normal thoughts and worries, I cared more about how I felt. I focused on joy and gratitude when my mind would drift to something negative instead of letting it consume me. Today I sang some fun songs out loud and in my head and thought about my grow when I started thinking of something sour. 17 sec. What a difference. Today was a great day.

You must be some kinda psychic miracle worker. :thanks:
You made my day. :5::5::5:

I'm astounded that I was blessed with the inspiration and brave enough to put it out there. It wasn't going to be quiet. I couldn't be happier that it helped you so quickly.
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Dale and I married as the steel industry collapsed around us. Lost in that confusion, making a living that would sustain a family became a supreme challenge for many of us in the Steel Valley. One year, between the two of us, we brought home less than $6000, raising two young children.

We survived by the generosity of the community that surrounded us. Regardless, it took a toll, and I fell into depression. When music no longer played in my head I knew I was in trouble. I searched for a survival technique that would help me pull myself out of the depths. I had small children. There was no "I can't do this" option. What message would that send to them? My entire upbringing had taught me that you can overcome anything.

In a moment of inspiration I acquired a sports stopwatch that hung around my neck, set to go off every hour, on the hour. I knew that the fastest way out of depression was prayer. There's something magical about putting that joyful expression out there.

I need to explain that my concept of prayer involves no use of the word "please." I'd never been comfortable with the concept of begging God for help. The message I heard was "ask and you shall receive" and my interpretation of that asking was really a thanking for the answer. I took God at his word that he'd answer, so I faithfully thanked him in advance.

I committed myself to a month, regardless of how it went. For one month, every time that alarm went off, I stopped whatever I was doing and said, right out loud, "Thank you Father for my wealth." Then I went back to what I was doing.

Within a day my concept of what "wealth" meant began to shift, to include all manner of sparkling things going on around me I was missing in my worry. I realized within a week that depression was no longer going to be a concern, and I was fairly certain I'd not have to deal with a return at any point in my life. This was working, and working better than I'd anticipated.

I don't remember anything earth-shattering happening at the time, but I became calmer, more peaceful and more capable of helping my mate and our children cope with the challenges. It took me outside the worry and helped me find security within myself. Eventually, as is the cyclical nature of the human existence, things improved and we survived.

To this day, when my children hear the "beep, beep, beep" of a digital alarm, their minds run that mantra through their own brains.

That thought makes their mother smile with a bit of pride. :4: :love:

 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
I heard this every morning for several years. It wasn't until the last few years, as I've slowed down from the rat race, that it struck me what a wonderful philosophy it is.

"Welcome to this brand new day. This day has never been lived before. It’s a blank canvas. If you will it so, it can be your masterpiece. As you wake up this morning think of three things you’re grateful for and then get out there and live this day with all the joy, wonder and enthusiasm you can muster."
This was how I started my morning today. Thank you for that share.

:5::5::5:
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Pennies From Heaven

I've had a life-long love affair with found pennies. :laugh2: I have no idea where the thought originated, but as a small child I began to associate pennies on the ground as God's message that he was thinking of me. The delight with which I snatched up those pennies has carried over into my adult experience. Now, however, I recite that lovely sing-song mantra that I used with the stopwatch. As I reach down to rescue that dropped penny I say right out loud, with all the delight of that small child, tickled as she can be to realize once again that the cosmos works on her behalf and just let her know that it was thinking of her

"Thank you Father, for my wealth."

My childlike prayer of joy that the universe and I are one.

Every day is a celebration for me. I realize I'm more overboard than many of you. I sometimes think it's so I have that much more to share with those who need it. :5: :love:

As a side note, this is another of those quirks of their mother that my children also carry with them. My daughter won't pick up the pennies. She's a bit of a germaphobe, so she leaves them there, but she's warmed by the thought that the universe just let her know that all things will work out to her benefit.
 

SweetSue

Member of the Year: 2015 & 2016 - Member of the Month: Mar 2015, Sept 2016 - Nug of the Month: Oct 2017 - Creme de la Creme Photos: Dec 2016
Things are always working out for me

I believe this statement with every fiber of my being. It's the belief that drives me forward with a song and joyful expectation. Periodically thoroughout my day I'll stop, get a feel for this moment, and begin telling myself this in a variety of ways. I play with shifting the words, changing the inflections. It goes something like this:

"Things are always working out for me. "

"Things always work out for me. "

"You know, when I look back over my life I can the see the patterns of things always working out for me."

"Things have always worked out for me, and I know that's the way it's always been and the way it'll always be."

"I know beyond any doubt that things always work out for me."

"Isn't it delightful how things have always worked out for me?" :laugh2:

"Things always work out for me. Always."

By the end of one of these mini-pep talks I'm giggling with delight. Then I smile and go on with the day, secure once again in the knowledge that I don't have to worry about anything because the universe always works on my behalf.

It works on your behalf too. I'm not more special than wonderful you. The nature of the universe is one of well-being for all. Things are always working out for all of us. Our inability to let ourselves see it doesn't change that truth, just makes it harder to stay grateful.

Sometimes we just need a little pep talk. :3:
 
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