Staying in an upward spiral, or constant state of steady improvement, is the absolute key to leading a truly fulfilling life. And the key to maintaining the upward spiral is one thing and one thing only: Focus. When you focus your attention on objects of delight, when you bask in the splendidness of physical reality, you free yourself from mental slavery. A master of focus is a master at life.
When your focus slips, you become unconscious, and the pain-body inevitably takes over, you descend into what is called the downward spiral. Your focus is no longer disciplined, no longer consciously controlled. It has become caught up in some negative thought-form and you have identified with it.
The moment dies, is buried in, and is resurrected by the nothingness or awareness that underlies all form. The moment is always being rearranged. What decides what it is being arranged into? Your focus. Your focus can be positive or it can be negative and the nature of your experience will ALWAYS reflect you predominant focus.
As human beings we fear death in two ways. We fear the actual death experience at the end of this life, and we also fear the death of each moment to eternity. We cling to "past" experiences and use them to define who we are. We end up disliking who we are, because deep down we know it is not real. Then we project an illusory future where every thing is "better" in order to provide some sort of false hope or comfort, some kind of meaning to an otherwise barren sense of self. This is a huge mistake. We are missing the fact that the present is the only Truth. That is to say. Now is the only thing that is actually constant, the only experience your consciousness can cling to and feel complete. Past and future are by nature ephemeral, intangible, and non-existent. I liken the attachment to the past to the struggle someone would experience when trying to grasp water in a flowing stream. It simply cannot be done, and the attempt to do so results in an ever-increasing sensation of hopelessness and frustration. You are not the past, you are not the future, you are not even the Now, although the Now certainly brings you closer to yourself than past or future because it takes you out of the mind and the constant, insatiable need to conceptualize reality. You are YOU, and no experience can EVER take that away.
The most common attribute of those in the downward spiral is that they are constantly fighting against life, which is always now. They view their experience, which is predominantly negative in nature, as the "enemy" which they must fight and conquer. Once this enemy is defeated, they will be rewarded with the happiness that they seek. This is a complete illusion that is maintained by the human ego. You can never fight life and win, because you ARE life. You are essentially fighting against yourself, and that is what creates and perpetuates your unhappiness. The moment you are able to fully embrace and accept life as it presents itself in the Now is the very moment that you will find peace and true liberation. But BE AWARE! The mind will always come up with reasons why you cannot be happy now, especially if you have been trapped in pain and unhappiness for a long time. As soon as you begin liberating yourself and accepting this moment, many unconscious resentments, excuses, and fears will surface spontaneously. BE PREPARED! Do not become discouraged when this happens. It is VERY GOOD!!! You are overcoming a lifetime's worth of bullshit and you can do this very quickly provided you are able to stay present, see the ultimate fallacy and futility of the negative thoughts/beliefs, and redirect your focus in whatever way feels best. Just remember, when you fully accept you become fully ALIVE! Peace.