Why I’m not joining your positive thinking cult…

The other day someone tweeted that doing social good for her meant only tweeting positive things and good news. I rolled my eyes and muttered, “How on earth is that helpful?”

I am a firm believer in yin yang. The idea that opposite forces are connected and dependent on each other – that one cannot exist without the other. After all, how would we know what good is if bad didn’t exist? Our daily goal should be to find and maintain balance in our lives – balance between too much of anything.

Whether or not we acknowledge the existence of negative things in the world, they are there. No amount of positive thinking is going to prevent bad things from happening to us. If we choose to ignore it, we risk being unprepared when negative things do happen. Does that mean we should be walking around like a grouch? No, but there is a happy middle ground between negative and positive extremes. A middle ground that prepares us for the worst while hoping for the best.

Being unprepared for negative events is only one of my issues with too much positive thinking. Another issue is the potential for laying the blame on individuals for the negative things that happen to them. Things that are beyond anyone’s control. The idea that positive thinking can protect us from negative things then implies that these negative things that happen to people are deserved. That somehow someone did something to deserve cancer or some other terrible disease. Or that the guy with the corner office positive thought his way in there rather than working his butt off. These are obviously extreme examples but fall in line with the same train of thought. Ultimately, bad things happen to good people and to bad people. It is about accepting it and coping/moving on. Sometimes there just isn’t an explanation for the amount of pain in a person’s life. It is not necessarily a reflection of who he is. What will say something about him is how he has dealt with whatever life has thrown his way.

It’s nice to believe that the universe conspires to get us what we want but maybe it would be easier on our souls if we didn’t take it so personally. That we just have to accept what comes our way and cope with it as best as we can. You do your best and that is all anyone can ask for. Does this belief absolve us from doing anything? No. Does it mean not even bothering to participate? No. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a lottery ticket.

Not to mention that some of the most brilliant and creative minds we know are borne out of strife. And if you think about the negative things that have happened to you, aren’t you a better person for it? A lot of positive change has come out of negative events so why do we think that we’re better off without it? Because it’s hard? Sure. But Thomas Paine said it best when he wrote,

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods…

Call me a realist. Call me whatever name you want but I’m not joining your positivity cult. Now let the good times roll…

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10 things you should know about ME…*

*Post 2: In the get-to-know-me series. (I am still in denial that the series will extend beyond this post and the “Crazy is as crazy does” post).

10. Salt is my weakness. I laugh in the face of everyone else’s need for sugar.

9. I do not drink coffee. I consider it my major personality flaw.

8. I eat meat. In my world, steaks are more romantic than flowers.

7. The dictionary definition of road rage should have my picture with it.

6. I am a book snob. I will judge you based on the book you are reading.

5. I run away from drama queens like they are zombies. They are blood sucking vermin and they vill zuck ze life out ov you.

4. I tweet like my life depends on it.

3. I am a recovering Coke addict… And by Coke I mean Coca Cola.

2. I hibernate during winter. Definition of winter is weather with temperature below 70 degrees.

1. If you own an English Bulldog, I will be forever your friend. F.O.R.E.V.E.R. (Until you get a restraining order).

If you have any advice for the above personality disorders, please leave a comment. 🙂

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My short stint with Bikram Yoga

According to Dictionary.com, Bikram Yoga is “a type of hatha yoga characterized by a set series of postures and breathing exercises, performed in a very hot room.”

It’s the “very hot room” part that has most people talking. 105 degrees to be exact. When you first walk into a room heated up to 105 degrees, it’s like getting punched in the gut. You’re not quite sure what happened but you know you didn’t like it.

As a yoga teacher, I am asked all the time about different types of yoga – Bikram especially. So finally, with Groupon in hand, I went to my first ever Bikram Yoga class. Can’t hurt, right? (Famous last words?)

I approached Bikram with a lot of trepidation. I swim in sweat at room temperature so I was not looking forward to sweating more. Or worse yet, having someone else’s sweat splatter on me. And, of course, I was completely unprepared for my first class despite how many times I googled “how to survive Bikram” prior to going.

My first class was not a complete disaster but I was mentally unprepared for how difficult it was going to be. Suffice it to say, I didn’t quite make the 90 minutes. At 60 minutes I had to make the awful decision between walking out with tail between my legs or vomiting in the room. I opted for the walk of shame.

Other people would not willingly return after such a defeat but not me. I couldn’t stand the thought of failing at something yoga-related. So I came back… not just once but TWICE! (My belief is that you need to try something at least 3 times before you can have a respectable opinion on it. Belief excludes illegal and dangerous activities.)

I was better prepared the next time. My husband thought I was crazy as I packed my gear to try again especially when I ranted and raved after the first class. I looked like I was going into battle. I packed my water bottle with ice, wore shorts instead of pants, I brought a watch so I’d know how much time was left and I firmly planted myself by the door in the hopes of catching any breeze. Sure enough, it went much better and I made it through the 90 minutes with a smile on my face.

So the big question is: Will I be back? The answer is a firm NO.

I don’t want to offend Bikram lovers but it simply wasn’t for me. It was complete torture. When I tell people this, they always inadvertently imply that I didn’t have the mental stamina to practice Bikram. Some have demanded that I keep going until I learn to love it. But the truth is I spent all of my time at Bikram focused on making it through the movements and cursing the incredible heat. I wasn’t focused on my body and how it was feeling. I wasn’t thinking about how good it was for me. I didn’t feel glorious and open. I didn’t feel good. And I hated having to lock my knees! Sure, I felt tremendous pride in making it through but I didn’t like where my mind was while I was practicing.

So do I recommend that people try it? Hell yes! I admire the folks who practice Bikram and you should definitely have your own opinion on it. Don’t just take my word for it. But as for me? I will be keeping my distance.

What are your thoughts on Bikram or hot yoga?