Black & White Balloons

“Positive thinking is more than just a tagline. It changes the way we behave. And I firmly believe that when I am positive, it not only makes me better, but it also makes those around me better.” — Harvey Mackay

There are only three more days left of 2016. I’ve seen a lot – really, a lot – of memes and comments on social media referencing how eager most of us are to see 2016 end. I know that for many of my clients, life was hard this year. The elections surely created strife and drama for some. Many people experienced a death or two in their family and there were a lot of celebrity deaths this year; a lot of young ones it seems which, tends to remind us of our mortality My family lost someone this year. Certainly, for some, it was a year of tragedies and turmoil. In my home, there was a definitive array of struggles and frustrations, particularly with Harlan’s illness. However, there was a multitude of joy and fun in our lives this year as well and we created some really great memories that I don’t want to flush away by dismissing 2016 as a throw-away year.

I think it’s important to look for balance in our perspective… to pay attention to the things that receive our focus. If I look at only the elements in my life that are ugly, bad, or unwanted – or even if I look at those things more than I look at others – my vision is then clouded or obscured by what I have made large.

I use really odd analogies sometimes. I honestly don’t know where they come from but I will be sitting with a client and attempting to rationalize or explain a point and I find myself describing an analogy that (mostly) applies but was literally pulled out of the cosmos. I have used one several times to characterize the above point about where we focus our thoughts that go like this…

Imagine that every thought you have is represented by an uninflated balloon laying on the floor in front of you … white balloons for positive thoughts and black balloons for negative thoughts. Every time the energy of a thought runs across your mind it is deposited into its corresponding balloon. Eventually, the balloon gets so full that it bursts and redeposits its energy back onto you and leaves another empty one in its space. So essentially, your thoughts come back to you – or the energy of them at least. Which balloons are you sending energy to? Which balloons are bursting and covering you in their energy? What is it that comes back to you the most?

If I think of this example when I am aware of my thoughts I can intentionally create energy that fills the white balloons. Even if I enter awareness with the understanding that I’ve just sent a lot of energy to the black balloons, I can consciously create some positive energy to pump up white ones to balance or preferably overpower, the negativity that I created earlier. It may look like this:

  • What a crappy day (black balloon)
  • Yesterday was a great day (white balloon)
  • My coffee tasted good (white balloon)
  • I woke up next to the man I love (white balloon)
  • I wonder how long he’ll be there (black balloon – stop it!)
  • Practice gratitude today (white balloon)
    • I am thankful for my family
    • I am thankful that I love my job
    • I am grateful for the people who read my blog
  • I have the power to fill my balloons (white balloon)
  • My Christmas tree is beautiful (white balloon)
  • My house is warm (white balloon)

We can’t stop negativity from entering our minds – it’s out there and our lives aren’t always free from things that don’t feel good. But… we can learn to pay attention to the things that we think – those thoughts that collect in our physical space and boomerang back to form the way we feel and view the world. That shroud I wrote about a few days ago may not come off but it is moveable and we are always weaving… if we are paying attention, we can weave a pure white patch and twist it so that our view is often from that perspective.

When I look at 2016, I see so many positives and by making a literal list to look at and keep with me as a reminder, I can find things (white balloons) to blow up anytime I need to put some positive energy back into my field.  I will share some of the major ones with you…

  • Harlan has had three great scans – his cancer is stabilized.
  • I am going to be a grandmother.
  • I wrote a book.
  • My children are kind and compassionate people.
  • My family is immensely supportive.
  • We laughed a lot this year.

It wouldn’t be hard to describe five negative things for each one of the above positive but if I knew that the negativity was going to eventually come back my way why would I choose to place my focus there? Study after study has proven that people who emphasize positivity score higher on happiness scales. Here is one way to do it.

I know how hard this can be sometimes and on those days I allow myself the opportunity to vent – to get the negative energy out there as I need room for the positive stuff to come in. So – once in a while the black balloons burst and cover me in darkness and if feels crappy (literal interpretation intentional) in all regards. That’s when I take the time to write it all down – to make lists and concentrate on creating positive energy. That’s when I do little random acts of kindness or get away with a friend. We have the power to create the kind of life we want to live. Sadly, we can’t stop bad stuff but we totally have the ability to decide how to respond to it.


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