Cultivate Positivity

From the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati

The mind is a bundle of habits. It can be changed by changing the habits. Destruction is necessary for regeneration. When you acquire new, healthy habits, the old and unhealthy ones are given up. So, analyse and introspect. Transmute negativity into positivity by changing your attitude. Take stock of the last year, and resolve to un-mind the mind by living the following principles.

Be up and doing

Do not sit idly craving for someone to help you, but always be up and doing. Do the best you can and leave the rest. Do not become lazy. God helps those who help themselves.

Be cheerful

Do away with depression and gloom. There is nothing more infectious than depression. Drive away the feeling of morbidity at once by enquiry, singing uplifting songs, prayer, pranayama, brisk walks in the open air, and thinking of the opposite quality: the feeling of joy. Be cheerful and happy. Live only to be a blessing to others.

Assume adaptability

Try to develop an amiable and sociable nature. Adjust yourself to the ways and habits of others. Never grumble when you serve others. Take delight in service. Be balanced even when you are insulted, when others use harsh words against you. Have an equal mind in pleasure and pain, heat and cold. Develop adaptability, self-restraint and tolerance.

Speak measured words

Control the mind skilfully and tactfully. Discipline the organ of speech. Speak sweetly, gently and truthfully. Do not waste your hours in idle talk. Cut short conversations. Become a person of measured words. Observe mouna (silence) for a couple of hours daily. Talk a little, hear much, and never utter a harsh word that harms another’s feelings.

Control anger

Anger shatters the nervous system and produces a deep and lasting impression on the astral body. A terrible fit of wrath creates a deep inflammation in the astral body. Therefore, do not become a victim of anger. Control it by kshama (patience), love, mercy, sympathy, vichara (reflection) and consideration for others.

Understand the law

No event can occur without a definite cause behind it. Everything follows the law of cause and effect. This law is quite mysterious, which is why Lord Krishna says: Gahana karmano gatih – “Mysterious is the nature of action.” All physical and mental forces in nature obey this grand law of cause and effect. You find yourself in places where you can fulfil your desires because nature follows this law.

Become one with the law-giver

If you once understand the law that guides your life and actions, you will be able to act in such a manner as to make this law your ally rather than adversary. If the conditions laid down by the law are meticulously fulfilled and observed, you can have absolute certainty of success in any direction. Therefore, discharge your duties carefully. You will soon become one with the law-giver.

Have fiery determination

Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul into even the smallest act. Act with faith and determination. Master your emotions and impulses. Be firm in your resolve and fiery in your determination.

Never despair

You are not a helpless being. You have free will. You can overcome all unfavourable circumstances. Have courage. Be bold. You will succeed. There is nothing in the world that cannot be achieved through the right effort. Do not be troubled by difficulties, adversities and sorrows. They will help you in developing your will and power of endurance. They will make you wise and help in your evolution. Use your intelligence, sagacity, discrimination and common sense. You will overcome the difficulties one by one. Dismiss fear and anxiety. Draw courage, strength and power from within. You are invincible. Nothing can harm you.


Know things in their proper light. Do not mistake emotion for devotion, violent jumping in the air during sankirtan for divine ecstasy, rajasic restlessness for karma yoga, deep sleep for samadhi, or building castles in the air for meditation. Learn to discriminate and become wise. Watch your thoughts carefully. Make the mind understand the unreal nature of objects. Talk to your mind. Coax the mind. It will hear your words.

Practise serenity

Be calm under all circumstances. Cultivate this quality through constant and strenuous endeavour. Serenity is like a rock. Waves of irritation may dash on it, but cannot affect it. Be as calm as the waveless ocean. Be as broad-minded as the sky. Be as pure as crystal. Be as patient as the earth. Keep your mental poise amidst the changes of the world without consideration of success or failure, gain or loss, pleasure or pain. Discipline your mind cautiously. This is your master-key to open the doors of the realm of bliss. This is the secret of success in yoga.

Be open like a child

Have an eager and receptive attitude to imbibe the teachings of your master. Be absolutely guileless, frank and candid like a child. Attune your heart to the divine through sincere prayer. Lay bare your heart to Him. Do not keep any secrets from Him. Talk to Him like a child. Become an instrument in the hands of the divine.


Surrender everything to the Supreme Spirit. Place your ego at His feet and be at ease. He will take complete charge of you. He will do everything for you. Fix your mind on Him. See Him in all faces. Work for Him. Think of nothing else other than Him. He is your guide. He is your light. He will cheer you up. He will come and save you from difficulties. Repeat the mantra, “I am yours, all is yours. Your will be done.” When surrender is absolute, divine grace flows.