How to Stay Positive and in the “Present” When the Present is Not Pleasant
Do you ever find it easier to stay positive and enjoy the present moment if it is pleasant, but not as easy when it is not? When things are not going according to your desires?
Let me share a technique to stay positive in the present moment even when things are not going your way.
The other day, Kelly and I were driving to a meeting. It was raining a lot. The traffic was moving so slow that we were at risk of being late for the meeting and my friend was getting frustrated. She said; “I hate this rain.” I asked her; “How does this thought help you?” She replied; “It doesn’t. It makes me feel pretty bad.” When I reminded her of mindfulness that we were talking earlier. She said sarcastically; “This is what I exactly wanted. I love being stuck in traffic due to the rain.”
Is that mindfulness? No.
So what can she do? How can she shift her thinking so she can become mindful at the moment even if she doesn’t like it?
She and I tried to apply the three steps of Stress to Joy system which are:
ACR: Acknowledge, Calm and Reflect.
- Acknowledge: We noticed and acknowledged our circumstances ( rain, traffic and running late) and our reactions.
- Calm: We calmed down by bringing attention to the moment. We became aware of what we saw ( the rain, the traffic, the sky and slowly changing perspective). What we heard (the sound of rain and car and our breathing and talking). We observed how it felt on our skins (the temperature) and the kinesthetic feeling of the car moving. In essence, we became mindful by bringing attention to each moment intentionally as it was unfolding without judgment (whether we liked the experience or not). Even when we felt a strong judgment, we observed it.
- Reflect: We reflected what was in our control and what was not. Rain or traffic was not in our control but driving carefully and making the most of the experience was. We could not change the weather to our desire, but we could adjust our desire to the weather. I shared with her one of the poems I had made in the past for my son to replace the poem he had learned in the school;
“Rain, Rain go away, come again another day.”
(a bad attitude to teach, the kids, especially when they live in a place like Seattle).
We replaced it with :
“When it rains, I want rain,
When it shines, I want shine,
When it’s cold, I want cold,
When it’s hot, I want hot,
I want whatever the weather is,
I am always happy, as I always have, what I want.”
So my friend and I decided to focus on what we could do. We tried to stay aware, moment by moment, both what was outside of us and how we were reacting and adapted our thoughts.
My friend did not say I love rain ( she does when she is playing in it) but she changed her thinking from “I hate this rain” to “I notice that I am getting frustrated at this time as I am running late. Rain is outside my circle. I have done what I could; I left in time, I am driving carefully, and I have informed my contact that I may run late. Now, there is no sense in continuously worrying about it. So I am going to enjoy this moment. We talked, listened to music and noticed the beauty and greenery made possible by the rain. We enjoyed the changing scenes and my friend commented; “I was so occupied and worried that I was not noticing all the beauty around me. I could have missed all this if I had not changed my thoughts.”
My friend had a choice. She could have continued to ruminate on what was not in her control or change her thoughts and perspective.
You also have a choice.
When you don’t choose to change, you are choosing to continue your pattern.
If you don’t notice how your words, thoughts, and attitudes are affecting you like my friend, you may continue to feel frustrated and irritated with daily stressors and may say or do things that do not help. If you do adapt your perspective by acknowledging, calming and reflecting, you may be able to decrease your stress feelings and increase your health and happiness despite your circumstances. You will be able to stay positive and mindful in the present even when the present is not pleasant. What are you going to choose?
If you liked this article and felt it can help others, please share.
You can learn more about this approach in my book; “Stress to Joy; Your toolkit to Restore Peace of Mind in Minutes.”
#1 Best Selling Author, Speaker, and Psychiatrist
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I share many tools and techniques that I have found to be helpful. They are not intended to replace treatments. Please seek treatment from licensed medical or health professionals as needed. I change all names for privacy.