How to Craft Your Own Instruction Manual for a More Positive Outlook [Writing Yoga® Prompt #2006]

The cranky man on the supermarket line has a lot to say about you and the terrible state of the world. Everything is going to "hell in a handbasket." The lines on his face detail decades of serious frowning. When someone he knows says, "Hi, how are you today?" The man replies, "Could be better" and goes on to list all the terrible things in his life and the world.

Of course it could be better and there is plenty wrong with the world, but what if you never answered, "I'm great, how are you?"

My nephew always answers this way, "I'm great! How are you?" It makes me smile and say, "I'm great too." Even if I am not great, at that moment I feel great, because optimism is contagious. Our brains go with the information we put inside them. Our bodies follow those instructions. You make your own instruction manual. Are your instructions: a) be great or b) go to "hell and an handbasket."

I am not encouraging forced happiness, fake laughter, and blind positive thinking. That can get  awkward and strange.  What is authentic and true is that we all have the ability to experience life through a more positive lens.  Choose your own adventure. 

WRITING YOGA® PROMPT #2006: Write Your Own Instruction Manual

SIT:  Inner Smile

This is an uplifting practice that is found in many traditions around the world. Close your eyes. Bring a smile to your face. Notice if you feel a shift in energy or emotions. Imagine the energy of this inner smile filling your entire body. If challenging feelings come up, just notice. Be compassionate. Soften your face, relax, imagine peacefulness. Sit for 3-5 minutes breathing in happiness.

It is normal to resist this. After all, we don't have time to sit around smiling! And you might feel silly. In some cultures, a smile brings the connotation of less intelligence. However, it is simply a cultural construct and nothing to do with the fact that often the most intelligent people take life less seriously than others. 

WRITE: Yes, The World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket, But....

Get out a piece of paper. Start by writing, "The world is going to hell in a handbasket because...."  Go ahead and vent. 

When you are done, shift the mood by taking a deep breath. Or several breaths. Write, "Yes, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I can......" See where your pen leads you. What do you have the power to shift and change?  Write an instruction manual for how to live a full and joyful life. 

MOVE: Nature Trikonasana and Aligning with Symbols 

Nature is filled with geometric symbols and structures. Humans are too. This week's featured pose is triangle or Trikonasana in Sanskrit. It can feel like joyful music when you move in alignment with nature. Find some outdoor spaces to practice yoga this week. Give Triangle a try like this: 

1) Stand with your feet about 3-4 feet apart. 2) Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, so that it is facing the right side of the room. Your left foot should be turned slightly inwards. 3) Inhale and raise your arms to shoulder height 4) Exhale and reach your right arm forward without straining 5) Hinge from your hip and lower your right hand to your shin. 
5) Extend your left arm straight up towards the ceiling. 6) Keep your head down unless you feel comfortable enough to look toward your left thumb. 7) Breathe here for 3 rounds of breath. 8) Slowly rise up and return your feet to parallel and place hands down along side your body.

Repeat on the left!  Do this pose throughout the week in different places in nature. Look for the symmetry and geometry to find your perfect spot to practice. 

What will you write in your instruction manual? Let me know! 

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