Overlooking bad habits


Sending off my pet hates, cutting my worries down to size by acting on them, ignoring my worrisome habits, takes time and discipline. Though with practice, I do notice that habits of cheerful optimism get easier. Also, focussing on the positives automatically means that the things we don’t want fade away: It is better to be ‘pro-peace’ than ‘anti-war’.

Bad news and habitual difficulties have a habit of clinging on, a bit like the smell of mouldy old clothes – and there is a prize for anyone who can spot the pun. Old messages are part of a record with deep grooves, so it takes a while to notice how deeply buried are the old, tired repeats: “I can’t manage…” – “I have to do everything alone….” Out-of-date litanies these may be, but they spool round, and on bad days, in tense times, can spill out and threaten to unseat happier certainties.

Perhaps the best analogy I have found recently is of a garden filled with weeds – thistles, dock, painful thorns… If we focus on what we prefer – tulips, sunflowers… the things we prefer are strengthened while the weeds, unable to find a purchase in the soil, wither away for lack of attention.

I find myself warming more easily to positive words, and my decision to stay defiantly happy is certainly working at the moment, encouraged by the light mornings, bright sunlight and welcome warmth of each spring day. It feels increasingly obvious that we can embrace good news and glance lightly over the bad: purposeful opposition to the things we dislike merely feeds them. Instead of worrying in the dark, I walk outside and turn my face to the light.

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