Lauren Lansford is a wellness coach and middle school teacher deep in the heart of Austin, Texas. She works with teachers and teens on finding their own power and well-being. When she’s not at school, you can find her on a yoga mat, hiking a trail, or snuggling her two cats, Pancho and Margaux. You can follow her on Instagram or her website.
My Thoughts About “Good Vibes Only”
Good vibes only. Choose happy. Keep smiling. Yeah, right.
If I see another t-shirt tell me to force a smile on my face, it’s on. The only thing worse than having an awful day is spending energy pretending it isn’t one. Today’s trends of relentless positivity not only irritate me but wickedly twist what a positive outlook on life can actually be.
Didn’t think a post about positivity would start that way, huh?
Positivity isn’t the same as a saccharine smile, or knowing everything will be alright. That mindset can set us up for a massive load of abuse and unease, and it can cause us to bypass important healing and growth work– for ourselves and our communities. Instead, a positive outlook is a productive one. It’s curious. It’s accepting. It’s learning to grow around challenges, embracing them, instead of trying to push past them or lock them away.
Positivity is like a backpack: at the beginning of the year, when we nab that really, really fly bag, we’re stoked to wear it. We know it won’t last forever; the stylish exterior will fade; the zippers will jam; and one day, the Powerpuff Girls won’t be so cool to us anymore. (I’m 100% team Buttercup, by the way.)
How to Be a Positivity Dork
Instead of pressuring yourself to commit to happiness all the time, I invite you to approach life with a bit more curiosity than that: be a total, complete, radically curious dork. Be as obsessed with yourself, your life, and your current situation as a number one fan.
Like your backpack, accept a situation the way it is, knowing sometimes it carries heavy loads and sometimes the straps break, but it can sometimes be really, really cool too. Whatever happens, we wonder how it’ll get us through the day.
Dork it up and wonder. Enter every situation with infectious curiosity.
- First, practice being present. How does your body feel? Your mind? Your emotions? Probe at that. Wonder why you feel that way, and try to release fear from digging deep. For example, are you sluggish because you didn’t sleep well last night, or is something emotional quietly bearing down on you? Can you pull that to the surface of your awareness? When my physical body feels heavy with spiritual or emotional burden, I like to feel where it rests or tightens in my body and send long, loving breaths there. Conversely, you really might just be wiped. If there’s nothing deeper going on, be compassionate to yourself! Sometimes things are the way they are.
- Next, get very curious. Take the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed approach of wondering. Consider: “Why do I feel this way? What can this offer me?” When we approach life with curiosity, we give ourselves permission to take risks, ask questions, and explore. Even the most harrowing emotions and situations lend an opportunity to discover parts of our spirit we rarely get to feel.
- Then, spread the curiosity!, By being honest and authentic with our full range of emotions, we inspire others to do the same. When I have a meeting I dread (secret’s out: teachers meetings are a bore), I have to touch base with myself: Why on earth do I resent this opportunity so much? By asking myself how I feel about something, I get to the root of my discomfort. When I put a name to a problem I can release it. I can work with myself, my situation, and exist in the situation with joy and gratitude.
Being a Dork Takes Practice
It takes conscious effort to shed the cooly apathetic skin we think our peers want to see. It can be scary to visibly open your heart to a moment. However, shining authentically and being the curious positivity dork in the room will not only give you freedom but inspire others as well. Keep practicing!