At the outset, thinking positively 24/7 seems like a tall order, especially when negative people and circumstances are in your face, tugging you away from what otherwise might be a happy, Zen-like state. Sure, things might be fine day-to-day, but what happens when that rejection letter hits your In Box, or your compatriots from your critique group inform you that the cherished opening chapters of your novel should probably be cut?
The secret I’ve found, after doing this for several weeks, is that you don’t need to monitor how you’re thinking all the time to determine if you’re staying positive. The key is to focus on how you’re feeling.
How are you walking? How you sitting? How are you breathing? For me, I noticed when I start to sink into a negative space, I tend to sigh a lot. Before, it would go unnoticed. Now, after a single sigh, I notice what’s happening as surely as if the Check Engine light has fired up on the car dashboard.
Recognizing negative thinking is two-thirds of the battle. Once I’ve made what was otherwise unconscious thinking into something conscious, it’s just a matter of turning it around. Like anything else, thoughts are energy. I don’t think of it so much as thinking positively anymore. I think of it as tuning into the right frequency.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing my focus. Other times, it’s changing my perspective. Perhaps it’s just looking at the same situation and trying to find an opportunity where previously I perceived loss. More often than not, I ask myself, “What would it feel like to be a fabulously successful novelist?” I can vividly imagine what that feels like, so putting myself in that state is pretty easy for me. When I feel like that, I walk differently. I sit differently. I breathe differently. Then I ask myself, “Okay, how long can I maintain this frequency?” and challenge myself to tune into it for as long as I can.
So what happens when, like this week, my agent tells me that have to cut the cherished opening chapters to my latest novel? Okay, I still haven’t figured that one out yet. But I’m working on it.
Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.