Rule #5: Say Nothing Negative

Eyes need a break from the screen?
Listen instead. Press play! 

This is one of the 'ground rules' I set on the Friday night with participants of the PYC Muskoka Yoga Retreat. If you're smart, you'll realize that this is just my genius way of ensuring that I don't have to deal with any complaints as the person running the retreat. Ha - that was a joke. If something important is not the way it should be, participants have my full permission to break Rule #5. It's simply in place to make people aware of just how easily they default to what's wrong. I was inspired to add it to the weekend after I saw this picture posted by my friend Natalie, the founder of Well&Tight, back in the winter. 

nothing negative.jpg

I'll start by saying that I consider myself to be a pretty positive person. That wasn't always the case - those of you that were spared the emotional rollercoaster ride that was pre-yoga Jenn can consider yourselves lucky. Through practice, meditation and I'm not afraid to admit it: talking to a therapist (yoga isn't one stop shop for mental health, it's an important piece of the puzzle though), I've trained my brain to to focus on the good and opened my eyes to all the countless things I have to be grateful for. My life is pretty awesome, so when I saw Natalie's post I figured it would be a breeze. I already do that anyway, don't I?

I spent the next 24 hours realizing how many negative things come out of my mouth that
I don't even notice are complaints.

I was doing okay at first. Probably because I was in London at the time, working from home and (somewhat sadly ha) not talking to a lot of people. I noticed a one or two negatives slip out in conversations but caught myself quickly. I made the mistake of telling Mike about my little experiment. When he got home after midnight for - what felt like - the millionth time that night, crawled into bed and found me in a - rare, right Mike? - sour mood about our lack of time together, I was met with a reminder: 

"I thought you weren't going
to say anything negative?"

Ugh. Thanks Mike. For a moment I wanted to punch him but then I was laughing. Here's the banker reminding the yoga teacher to focus on what's good. Proof that yoga teachers are human too, we get grumpy. My little 24 hour experiment ended with me realizing I was horrible at a challenge that I thought I was going to absolutely crush. That's why I've decided to continue working on it and why I'm encouraging others - that's you - to take this on as well. Start to pay attention to the number of times something negative slips out of your mouth in a day.

When someone asks how you're doing and you respond with a sigh and "I'm so busy".
Guilty. 
When it's raining and you complain about the weather - which you have no control over.
Guilty.
When your significant other does 5 amazing things and you nag them for the one thing they did that day that annoyed you.
Guilty!

The funny thing about agreeing to Rule #5 is that you're inevitably going to break it. You will say something negative but the magic of this rule is awareness. When you set the intention to not say anything negative you automatically start to notice what you waste your energy complaining about. If it's something that you can't control, ask yourself last week's question - is this useful? As I said in that post, it's not about being happy all the time - there are things in life to be negative about but a lot of what comes out of your mouth everyday probably doesn't fall into that category.

Here's your challenge to take on Rule #5.
Say nothing negative.
Watch your life change.