The Sattva Operator
Negative to positive
What is reality? — A timeless question with no definite answer unless you're an "omniscient" news anchor who can have an authoritative claim over defining and shaping reality.
We often encounter the question in different forms across various contexts and circumstances. Whether it's hearsay, opinion, news, or the cosmos itself, we ponder over reality throughout our lives. Barring the known laws of the universe, the demarcation between real and unreal depends on our beliefs and biases. As Shankar Vedantam puts it in Hidden Brain, "Reality is a mix of objectively what is happening in the world and what we think about it."
More often than not, we are empowered by the negativity bias, a psychological trait that's argued to serve critical evolutionary adaptive functions.1 And yet, we cherish positivity and hope in all cultures worldwide. Can we do something to live a more positive life?
वितर्कबाधने प्रतिपक्षभावनम् ॥ २.३३॥
Upon being harassed by negative thoughts, one should cultivate counteracting thoughts. 2
A true yogi will focus on positive thoughts to counteract the negativity. Of course, it's easier said than done. But if we are mindful of our emotions and thoughts, we can develop a positive attitude that can keep us rooted in a whirlwind of pessimism and negativity. The objective of Yoga is to attain a Sāttvic state of mind.
Sāttvic is derived from Sattva, one of the three Gunas in Yoga and Sānkhya philosophy, along with Rajas and Tamas.
Edwin F. Bryant gives a translation of the three Gunas from YogaSutra:
Sattva is characterised by lucidity, tranquillity, wisdom, happiness, and peacefulness; Rajas, by hankering, power, restlessness, and all forms of movement and creative activity; and Tamas, the Guna least favourable by Yoga, by ignorance, delusion, disinterest, lethargy, sleep, and disinclination toward constructive activity.
Despite unfavourable circumstances, we should attempt to invoke the "Sattva Operator" in our minds to convert negativity into positivity. When facing negative thoughts, take a deep breath, acknowledge the thought, and focus on the positive aspects of the situation or the person. Even if the Sāttvic mind seems elusive, with some practice, persistence, and mindfulness, we can strive towards it and achieve equanimity in life.
"Gardens require tending. So do our thoughts. Both pursuits - gardening and philosophy - require an adult's disciplined commitment combined with a child's easy joy." - The Socrates Express
Apply the Sattva Operator in your life. The rewards are worth the effort.
The Yoga Sutra by Patanjali - Edwin F. Bryant