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5 Ways to Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Beyond the Mat Lesson #6: Change Your Mind and Your Life will Follow

This Beyond the Mat lesson is both timely and frustrating. My meditation practice over the last year-plus uncovered some very deep rooted emotions regarding self worth that simple affirmations don’t touch. Most of the time, thanks to what I call “mental hygiene,” I function pretty well with a decent amount of self-esteem. Sometimes, though, it takes a hit, and as I mentioned in my previous journal entry — it took a hit this week for sure.

Positive affirmations are a great tool for mental hygiene, so you should definitely give it a try. If it works for you, that’s awesome. If not, here are more tools that I personally use to stay positive and motivated:

  1. Support others.

    I don’t find it difficult to see amazing things in other people, especially my teammates — seriously, you guys are incredible! Supporting your team gets you out of your own head, for one; and secondly, it highlights the disconnect that happens when you’re willing to criticize yourself in ways that you would never unleash on others.

  2. Eliminate negative self talk.

    I’ve written before about how self negativity hurts both you and your friends. It’s toxic, it’s masochistic, and it’s really not that funny. Cut it out!

  3. Physically take care of yourself.

    Your brain will not function if you don’t prioritize sleep, drink enough water, and eat real food (in that order, even).

  4. Be in the present.

    I personally need a little extra practice with this, which is where mindfulness meditation comes in handy, but meditation isn’t for everyone. All of us black belt candidates have the capability to be in the present when we’re training martial arts. Whenever you practice martial arts, if you catch yourself in the past (“I could do this kick perfectly last week”) or in the future (“I’m so worried about the 3-mile”), recognize it, then let the thought float away, and get back to what you’re actually doing. Mind-wandering is correlated with increased unhappiness. So… do it less!

  5. Practice gratitude.

    “When you focus on the gratitude, it just shoves out the fear.”J.J. Virgin
    This is a new one for me, which I’ve been a little inconsistent with. In a journal, ideally every day, write down three things that you’re grateful for. It’s easy at first (Suzi; not being injured; Jordan’s spaghetti), but as time goes on you have to learn to look for what to be grateful for. This mindset of constantly looking for the good, rather than constantly focusing on what is or could go wrong, can shape your outlook for the better.

While I’m not completely sold on the Law of Attraction, the flip side of it is plain old self sabotage, which we’re all familiar with. If you know that you’re predisposed towards self sabotage, then it’s time to ramp up your mental hygiene. Don’t be afraid to lean on others, either. I know you can do this! And I want you to know that you can, too.

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