I might be showing my age in this post but when I was in primary school, we used to write each other paper notes and pass them around in classroom when the teacher wasn’t looking. I’ve received little love notes like that, kind words from friends and it was how we discussed what we were doing after school. I used to keep these and read them when I was feeling ‘down’ as a reminder life is full of joy and this too shall pass.
I started up a gratitude journal this year and entered an experiment of well being after a friend of mine suggested it is one of the best ways she gained perspective about her life. Since January 2015 I’ve been writing down 3 things every day I am grateful for. No matter how small or big, each day there is an entry in my little journal. And what a difference it has made to my emotional well being. Let me tell you why…
Have you noticed that every single TV news bulletin and daily newspaper covers the bad news? Who was killed, what tragedy unfolded around the country or in the world, how some celebrity is having a mental breakdown etc. Even the commercials on TV are aimed at selling you something by playing on your emotions often emphasising that the only way you can be happy is if you buy their product.
This is why I don’t watch TV anymore or read articles that take pleasure in bagging someone out or highlighting the negative aspects of every days. I think we are all aware of our individual challenges in life – we don’t have to have them exacerbated by the media. How often do you hear people complaining or talking about someone else in a negative light as the way of ‘passing time’ or connecting? It really saddens me that these sort of discussions became more the norm than the kind that lifts people up and encourages them in life.
Soon after I started my gratitude journal, things started shifting for me emotionally. I became a happier person, I felt less anxious and I worried a lot less. I became a lot more aware of my surroundings as I was always seeking the positive in every situation rather than highlighting the negative.
Soon enough, my conversations started changing and one of the biggest shifts happened when my BFF, Andrea and I made a pact: ‘no more complaining or bad mouthing of people causing us grief’. We only allowed ourselves 2 minutes (each) every day to ‘vent’ if we needed to but then we immersed ourselves into planning and plotting our creative dreams. Everything changed – Andrea left her corporate career and I signed up to study life coaching.
As weeks and months rolled by, I’ve been really enjoying this exercise and started expanding on the list writing by carrying around a note book (and my Evernote) putting down every great idea that popped into my head. I started using these lists as ways to combat stress and anxiety and keep reminding me I do indeed have great ideas that I can act on. Reading back these lists and ideas would always motivate me to spring into action and they now represent an almost meditative ritual that is part of my life.
One of the very first ‘lists’ I’ve read that made a real impression on me was Rachel Gadiel’s ’34 lessons learned in life + love’. Such a beautiful way to give thanks for the amazing things that happened to Rachel in between her birthdays. Perhaps this will inspire you too to start your own. You can keep building it every day or just once a week – what matters is that you do stop, smell the roses and appreciate the beauty of life around you and within you.
Love and light,
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