I think we can all agree that it’s easy to fall prey to negative thinking. As much as we try to follow the advice of staying positive, those negative and worrying thoughts creep in and take hold of our mindset.
There’s a lot of advice about how to combat negative thinking, but I find the most powerful to be the wisdom offered by the Indian Buddhist Master Paramahansa Yogananda.
We distilled his wisdom in 5 easy steps. The wisdom is powerful because it encourages you to face your inner demons rather than run away from them.
It gets better:
By following this advice, you’ll be taking responsibility for your own happiness. Who doesn’t want that?
Step 1: Face up to your attachments and release them
“Attachments keep you ever fearful. The more a person’s body-consciousness expands – to include such things as a sense of possessions, a concern for one’s reputation, a sense of personal power or importance – the greater the likelihood of feeling fear…
“Fearlessness, on the other hand, comes from releasing those attachments: the desire for personal importance; the desire for power or control over anything or anyone; the desire to be well thought of and respected; attachment to possessions; attachment to bodily health and well-being; and, finally, identification of one’s self with the body…
“Fearlessness comes with perfect non-attachment. It is a natural attitude for those who feel they have nothing to protect.”
Step 2: Break the insidious hold of worrying thoughts
“Shake off your worries by going on ‘worry fasts.’ Go on short worry fasts three times a day to begin with. Take an hour in the morning, an hour at noon, and three hours in the evening. Absolutely refuse to allow a single worry thought to enter your mind during these periods….
“Then extend the period to a whole day; a week, and then a month. Soon you will have broken the insidious hold of worry thoughts.”
Step 3: Surround yourself with joyful people who laugh a lot
“Associate with joyous persons, for joy and laughter are contagious. There are some people the joy of whose laughter nothing can still. Seek them out, and feast with them on this most vitalizing food of joy. Steadfastly continue your laughter diet, and at the end of a month or two you will see a change – your mind will be filled with sunshine.”
Step 4: Act from the heart
“Fear comes from the heart. If ever you feel overcome by dread of some illness or accident, you should inhale and exhale deeply, slowly, and rhythmically several times, relaxing with each exhalation. This helps the circulation to become normal. If your heart is truly quiet you cannot feel fear at all.”
Step 5: Take control of your own mind
“God has given us one tremendous instrument of protection — more powerful than machine guns, electricity, poison gas, or any medic — the mind. It is the mind that must be strengthened…
“An important part of the adventure of life is to get hold of the mind, and to keep that controlled mind constantly attuned… This is the secret of a happy, successful existence… It comes by exercising mind power and by attuning the mind to God through meditation.”
This article was originally published on The Power of Ideas.