Optimism, Gratitude, and Contentment as a Solution to Anxiety 🙏🏻🙃😌5 min read

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One of the methods of self-transformation that we learn from meditation is replacing a negative emotion by its opposite. In this video I talk about how to apply this to transform feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness.

Video Transcript

You can master your emotional states

One of the methods of self-transformation that we learn from the meditation masters is replacing a thought by another thought, and replacing a negative emotion by its opposite. Today we’re going to talk about how we can use this to overcome feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness.

Emotion is not only something that we feel spontaneously. A feeling is not only something that happens when triggered from the outside. It’s not only a response to life. It’s also something that we can cultivate from within.

We can create any feeling, any emotion inside ourselves without depending on an external trigger. That is a key point to understand because it opens the doors to a lot of interesting ways to work and process your feelings.

It also gives you the freedom to be able to be the master of your emotional state, to be creative, to live more by design rather than by default. Once you understand that we are able to create feelings and emotions without an external stimulus, then you’re able to practice the technique of transforming the energy behind an emotion.

Transforming your emotional energy

One way to do this is by contemplating the opposite, by replacing the negative with the positive. And you need to do that without suppressing it, without saying “you don’t have the right to be here”, because that doesn’t work. It has negative consequences.

Rather, it’s just about transforming that energy of

  • hatred —> love
  • anger —> compassion
  • fear —> courage
  • anxiety —> contentment and optimism
  • depression —> hope, gratitude and joy

This is possible.

Meditation teaches you the way to do that.

It’s effective because we cannot have two opposite emotions inside of us at the exact same time. It doesn’t work like that. You cannot be feeling needy and content at the same time. You cannot be feeling anxious and confident at the same time. You cannot be feeling depressed and joyful at the same time.

Every moment that we are experiencing contentment, optimism and gratitude is one moment that we are not experiencing anxiety, stress, depression.

We can train our mind to make that shift. We can incline our mind to these positive feelings and cultivate them as mental states. The more we do so, the bigger is the buffer we have against negative emotions.

Three antidotes to anxiety

Contentment, optimism and gratitude—these three things are powerful antidotes to anxiety and depression.

Anxiety says, “Something horrible is about to happen”.

Optimism says, “That is unlikely to happen, but if it does I’m sure that I can deal with it and I’m sure that I can get something good out of it”. Do you notice the difference?

Anxiety says, “Oh gosh, my battery is dying. What if I get that important phone call right now and then I can never reach that person again… and then the opportunity is gone… and then… and then…”  

Gratitude says, “My battery dying reminds me of how important my phone is for me. It reminds me of all the things that I get from it, all the convenience that I have access to because of this phone.”

You are looking at the same situation in a different way and then from there you can act differently. You can take a concrete step to fix that situation, if possible—but don’t respond from anxiety. Respond from optimism.

Anxiety is the voice that says, “There’s always something wrong about to happen”.

Contentment is the voice that says, “There’s always something I can feel happy about. There’s always something that I can enjoy and appreciate in the present moment.”

This is the trick, and the possibility. You can change the negative way of reacting to things and feeling things to a more positive one. It works!

An ongoing practice

Now the challenge is that there’s a strong habit of thinking a certain way, of responding with anxiety, of paying attention to danger and risk and not to the good things. There’s a tendency of ignoring possibility, and underestimating your capacity.

This habit needs to be broken.

You need to bring your mind again and again from the negative back to the positive; from what doesn’t serve you back to what serves you.

This is a skill that is trained in a daily meditation practice where you decide to focus your mind on your breath (or on a mantra). The mind keeps going into distractions, thoughts, feelings, and memories. Then whenever you realize what happened, you bring it back. Every time you do that you are exercising this muscle of bringing your mind back to where you want it to be.

This is the skill that you need to apply for replacing a negative feeling for a positive one.

The larger teaching, here, is that our mind takes the form of that which it thinks of constantly. If you constantly see the world through the lenses of fear and danger and risk then it will become very easy for your mind to take the shape of anxiety.

That becomes your default. It’s a habit. But if you train yourself—by every time consciously choosing to practice optimism, to practice contentment, to practice gratitude—then you are creating a new neural pathway in your brain.

Every time you do that, that neural pathway is becoming a little bit stronger.

Every time you let go of the old way of seeing things—the way that makes you miserable, the way that holds you back, the way that limits you—you’re making that pattern a little weaker in your brain. As you continue with this practice, eventually the transformation will happen.

One day, responding with optimism, with confidence, with peace and gratitude—that will become your new default. You will have transformed yourself by then.

I like to call it this the Law of Attention. What you pay attention to comes into existence and becomes stronger. What you withdraw your attention from loses power and eventually disappears.

The Three Pillars of Meditation

If you want to make this self-transformation happen, then you need a daily meditation practice, with the right technique, and applying it in your daily life. These are the Three Pillars of Meditation:

  • The daily meditation habit
  • Finding the right technique for you (it’s different for person)
  • Applying the skills of meditation into your daily life

If you want to learn more about the Three Pillars of Meditation, and how to develop them, then join my free video course below.

Or join the full program, Limitless Life.

Summary

Here are the key points of today:

  • We are unable to have two opposite feelings, two opposite emotions at the same time
  • Every moment that we are feeling optimism, contentment and gratitude is one moment that we’re not feeling depression and anxiety.
  • Meditation teaches us that we don’t need to wait for the external world to trigger emotions in us. We can cultivate any feeling or emotion from within.
  • Cultivating states of mind such as contentment, optimism and gratitude is a powerful antidote for anxiety.
  • This cultivation needs to be done daily and repeatedly.

You need to repeatedly let go of the old way of responding to life and cultivate the new way. If you do that daily, then a day will arrive where confidence, contentment, gratitude and optimism will be the natural way that you respond to life.

When that happens things will feel very different.

I hope you have found this video helpful. If you know of anyone in your family or any friend that would benefit from watching this video (and almost all of us know people like this), then share it with them. I’m sure they’ll appreciate.

Happy Growing! 🙏🏻

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