Yoga is considered by many to be a very positive practice. Whether we feel that rush of joy and positivity from the endorphins our bodies create, the calmness of mind that melts away our anxieties, or the connection we feel to nature, it’s no wonder that yogis are some of the most positive-minded people out there.
For the more rational-minded yogi (or aspiring yogi), however, the idea of being so positive all the time can seem impractical, or even downright delusional. This is actually quite common, but when practiced properly, living a more positive life has nothing to do with being impractical or delusional.
Here are just three of some of the most common myths many skeptics tend to assume about positivity.
“Some people are just born to be more positive than others.”
This myth is partially true, but not entirely true. Most of us have undoubtedly known at least a handful of people in our lives who seem oddly happy and positive all the time. And sure, the genes they inherited may have very well shaped their personalities and mindsets so that they naturally lean toward positivity.
What scientists know, however, is that meditation — a central component of yoga — can physically change the brain in regions associated with learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. Meditators often report lower levels of stress and anxiety, which naturally makes room for positivity.
Essentially, you don’t have to be born with a predisposition for positivity. You can rewire your brain for it by practicing yoga and meditation.
“Positive thinking only distracts us from the negative and doesn’t solve anything.”
Ever try to think positively about something but feel like you’re faking it? We’ve all been there, and it’s one of the main reasons why so many people think positivity is so phoney. It’s because they’re doing it wrong.
Positivity doesn’t involve covering up the problem by over-exaggerating the good stuff. Real positivity involves mindfully observing or experiencing the situation for what it is, accepting it without judgment, and choosing the perspective from which we wish to continue observing or experiencing it from — a.k.a. a positive perspective. We can be completely aware and accepting of what’s unfavourable and what might need to be resolved, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look on the bright side of things while we’re tacking those things.
Awareness is key. As a yogi, you have the freedom to focus on the poses that you can’t do and let that drag you down, or you can focus on what you know you need to improve on as well as how you’ve improved already. The question is, what do you want to focus on?
“We need negativity to paint a more realistic picture of the world.”
This is perhaps the biggest excuse that practical-minded people give for their inability to be more positive. If they don’t recognize their own faults, how are they to discipline themselves to become better? If they don’t look at how much suffering is going on in the world, how are they going to be motivated to help?
The thing about focusing on the negative and using that to balance it out with positives is that it creates a habit for negativity that attracts more negativity to them, which makes it increasingly more difficult to be more positive. If someone thinks they’re really not smart enough, is it even worth studying? Or if someone thinks there’s so much evil in this world, is their contribution even going to make a difference?
We need positivity first to build upon it. We attract the same energy we send out into the world, so if it’s mainly positive vibes that we’re thinking, feeling, and doing, then that’s exactly what we’ll get back.
Positivity isn’t a joke, nor does it have to be a cheesy, delusional way of life. Simply expand your awareness to see everything from a completely fresh perspective and then shift your energy toward what’s authentically good about it — even when there’s work to do to fix mistakes or cope with misfortune.