It’s about this time of year where my glass becomes half empty rather than half full. While I love the beauty of Autumn I cannot abide the cold and I have already dusted off my electric blanket for colder nights.

Yesterday morning hit me hard, the 1st October came with a definite Autumnal chill in the air. Thankfully @ActionforHappiness preempted my pessimism about the cold months ahead with their Optimistic October calendar.

Whilst I’ve lived in Edinburgh for 18 years and embraced everything it has to offer, I’ve struggled with the weather, and I know I’m not the only ‘ex-pat’ to feel this way. With this in mind yesterday, I quickly took on the mantra from the calendar on 6th October which is ‘Be a realistic optimist. See life as it is, but focus on what’s good.’ The sun was shining; the sky was blue and I had left the house in the morning with a summer coat so no wonder I was feeling chilly! 

It’s been proven that optimists appear to experience less distress and higher well-being than pessimists. It’s about believing in possibilities and making those goals achievable. 

I was at an event on Monday evening and talking to someone who had found their dream job description but the application deadline had closed 2 days ago. She was kicking herself for not keeping her eye on the ball over the last couple of weeks and had turned reading the perfect job description into a negative experience. After discussing this for a while, I explained how I believe the phrase ‘What’s meant for you, won’t go by you.’ It’s a phrase my father in law uses a lot.  And works well in many circumstances!

She said she fitted the job description perfectly, ticking all the boxes. It was a job in Edinburgh so she wouldn’t have to move. I suggested to her that she get in contact with the employer. There was no way to know if they had received suitable applications or whether they would accept a late application. The worst that could happen is that they would say no, but at least she would have asked. On the 15th October, the calendar encourages you to ‘Do something to overturn an obstacle you are facing’

It was situation that needed a change of view. And sometimes turning things around in your mind and seeing the positives or potential positives needs assistance from someone else. 

Action for Happiness have some suggestions for taking and optimistic approach to goals:

  1. Choosing goals that take is towards something positive we want to achieve, rather than goals that help us avoid things we don’t want
  2. Being proactive when problems arise and looking for ways to resolve them, rather than ignoring or putting off dealing with issues
  3. Avoiding dwelling on the negative –learning to accept difficult things that we can’t change and re-adjusting our goals rather than avoiding them

In yoga terms Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s in the form of some of the Yama’s (moral disciplines) and Niyama’s (observances) have it covered:

  1. Satya: be honest with yourself
  2. Brahmacharya: use your energy in a productive way
  3. Aparigraha: don’t cling to things that are obstacles 
  4. Tapas: discipline; hard work pays off.
  5. Svadhyaya: we all make mistakes and they are one of the best ways to learn what not to do. Learn from them and move forward 

So, my goal this Autumn and through to Winter is to get up in the morning and create heat in my body through my yoga practice. Instead of gentle stretches and movement, I’m planning sun salutations to create an inner heat. And every time I feel the cold, I’ll practice another round. I have a seven year old student I teach and his mother showed me a picture of him on the middle of the pavement doing yoga. I’ll be taking a leaf out that young yogi’s book so you may find me on a pavement in Edinburgh in downward dog. However I will have my hat, scarf and gloves on!

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