Being positive and optimistic might not always be the best choice. First, it’s impossible to have a positive mindset 100% of the time. Second, there are times when it’s best to have a more neutral approach.
Learning to navigate the ups and downs in life is one of the challenges of life. It can be easier to live with calmness, composure, and level-headedness.
Just because you’re capable of strong emotional responses doesn’t mean it’s a good idea all the time. You’re capable of eating nothing but chocolate for a week, too.
The great basketball coach, John Wooden, once said that he hoped people wouldn’t be able to tell if his team had just won or lost a game by their demeanor.
The ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism has become quite popular over the last few years. In a nutshell, a major component of Stoicism is the idea that people should be indifferent to their successes, failures, pleasure, and pain.
1. Practice meditation daily. Meditation is the perfect way to practice being calm, composed, and focused. When you meditate, your mind wants to wander. You feel physically and psychologically uncomfortable. Meditation isn’t for sissies.
2. Watch TV shows and movies that elicit emotional responses and learn to view them objectively. Part of the reason TV and movies are so attractive is due to their ability to alter your emotions. That’s what these media are designed to do.
This is another great way to practice being stoic. Watch, but constantly remind yourself that it’s only a movie. Try to keep your emotional responses subdued.
3. Observe your thoughts and emotions with curiosity. Once we feel an emotion, our tendency is to focus on it and take an emotional ride. Instead of magnifying your emotions, study them like a scientist would. Notice how your thoughts change when your emotions change.
4. Be practical. What’s really happening? Be logical and objective. For example, if your pool pump goes down, then you either need a new pump or the current one needs to be fixed. That’s it. All of your emotional gyrations have zero effect on the situation. They only make you less capable and miserable.
5. Realize that nothing is permanent. The stock market, weather, good times, or bad times – none of them last. It only makes sense to avoid big emotional swings.
Enjoy and be grateful for positive experiences, knowing that life cannot always be just like this. When you encounter troubled times, keep in mind that these, too, will pass on and make way for good times again.
6. Understand how little control you have over the world. Aside from your decisions and direct actions, there’s not much you can do to change what’s going on around you. Other people are nearly impossible to control in any meaningful way. If it’s going to rain, it’s going to rain. Why get emotional if it doesn’t help?
Negative and positive experiences and emotions can both be disadvantageous. When people win, they tend to celebrate. Clinging too tightly to past wins can inhibit further growth and success. It’s hard to move forward when you’re stuck in the past.
Negative experiences can suck the life and motivation out of people. They can also inhibit progress. With a neutral mind, neither positive nor negative experiences have a great impact on you. Each day is another day to make progress and move forward.
Having a neutral mind isn’t about approaching life like a robot, completely devoid of emotion. It’s about tempering your emotional responses and learning to be emotionally okay with any outcome.
This is an effective way to continue to make progress in life. You’re not thrown off by either positive or negative experiences. You go with the flow, but you avoid a flood, and you’re able to keep going and moving toward your goals.