I’ll never forget the night I sat down and decided that there was much more to keeping a journal than 30 days of Gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, that is absolutely what started my goal of journaling for an entire year. In 30 days, I saw more progress in my outside world than I had in a long time. Starting a daily journal practice absolutely will change your life…if you commit to getting to know your subconscious mind.
There was a chasm, a freaking chasm, between who I wanted to be and what my thoughts were telling me. I was not living up to my full potential and the 18 years of living with invisible diseases had worn away the once shiny coat I saw of life. It was dull and bitter. This wasn’t what I saw my life looking like, I would think through the hazy fog of pain. Why bother getting out of my pajamas? My subconscious would tease me. Get under these blankets and rest. You deserve it. You have 7 invisible diseases. No one blames you for sitting here. You are just trying to survive. And that’s when it hit me.
I wanted to live, not merely survive. I wanted to change my thoughts, my world and help others like me. I wanted to be an inspiration to my children and I wanted my husband to stop feeling so helpless about the physical pain I was in. I wanted my dad to stop looking at me like he broke me by passing on the genes that made me different. And one night, it all came to me on how to help others with this.
7 Ways Starting a Daily Journal Practice Will Change Your Life:
- Journaling clears your head. As you begin the “getting ready for bed” routine, your brain has probably been on some sort of tech. Your brain still thinks it’s play time actually, so it’s time to start clearing our heads, and start putting our brains to bed so to speak. It is time to reduce the scattered thoughts that so much information available to us at one time (the internet) provides us. As we get ready for bed, it is time to increase our focus on a few specific things and start to recharge. We are now providing the bridge between our subconscious and our conscious waking thoughts. So much information can just flow if we let go!
- Your intentions become more clear. A few weeks ago, you would have thought I asked people to throw away their phones. I simply suggested getting an old-fashioned alarm clock and stop relying so much on your phones to wake you up in the morning. I merely pointed out that the tone with which you start your day stays with you (and that link is even a few years old, it is much greater now as it points out in the study). So if you take 5-10 minutes to think about what your wrote the night before, and how to utilize the first 10 minutes of waking up as pure visualization, gratitude practice, and goal setting, you will start to see tiny changes in your productivity during the day. New opportunities will arise.
- Abundance in your life will increase by your ability to be very specific with what you want. Last year, I paid off a very high credit card bill because I wrote about my monthly goals every single month until that thing was paid off. I was not in a good place financially at the time due to me leaving work to have my “sabbatical” of healing. This is a true story. I was driving a mini-van that was falling apart, and I knew that I wanted a new vehicle. The funds came in for me to pay off the credit card bills, and have money left-over to get the vehicle without worry or fear. I also renewed my passport and traveled overseas where I had been invited to speak at a conference. It was exactly what I had written out. I was specific on some things I wanted to get done and each month as I started a new month, I would plan out that month’s goals. I got very clear and things changed.
- How do you want to feel each day? Why is it so frustrating that as we live our lives, we focus so much on what we DON’T want to attract?? Why is it that we don’t ever take a minute to connect to how we actually want to feel? To live? What do we really want to experience on a daily basis? I am by no means saying that there aren’t wonderful people out there who can help you figure this out in therapy, but I was spending my co-pay ($25 a visit at the time…now up to $30), trying to get “unstuck” from the depression caused by the diseases when I finally had the Epiphany that if I wrote just a little bit each day on how I wanted to feel, and what I wanted to create, that I could make more progress through the mental jungle in my head than the lady sitting there listening to me could. I was holding back what I told her anyway (note, you can also use this in addition to, so just letting you know. There are many ways to use journaling).
- Gratitude starts to increase as you notice the good in your life. Do you ever think that someone in your life could use more thoughts of gratitude? I did too. But trying to change another person is like changing a light bulb using the Force (unless you truly are a Jedi and I am mistaken). You can mentally torture yourself about this other situation that you can’t change, or you can start focusing on the good you already have in your life. As we think about the good in our lives, and we seriously raise our vibration to one of thankfulness and gratitude, things start to take on a whole new perspective. Trust me, I know. I will never forget the day I got to stock up my refrigerator with good food because surprisingly, gluten-free items are way more expensive than things with gluten…as well as things that don’t have additives. I was so very thankful that I lived in a time when I could find the food I needed without getting sick.
- Comparison starts to melt away. I was once friend with someone who always wanted what other people had. Nothing in life made her happy. At all. This kind of stuff melts away as you focus on your monthly goals, your monthly intentions, your happiness and what you have. Who cares what person x “appears” to have? Truth bomb. They are faking it too sister. Yup. Marriage might be rocky, job might be stressful, and they never have time to just breathe. Don’t focus on their fappiness. <<< My word for Fake-happy I made up one day. That’s another story before the healing process…read later if you are there.
- Journaling gets you closer to self. Head is where your thoughts are and they are things you really don’t want others to know. Heart is actually where your self lives. The two don’t always agree. In fact, they often argue. Your head is like “Let’s be practical with this money.” Your heart is like “Oh my gosh. I need a pick-me-up today. Going to shop.” This is just my example as I couldn’t put 2 thoughts together the other day as it was a bad news day for 2 friends, so I listened to my heart and stopped working and left the house. AS I let go of that fear though, and learn to write about it, I actually visualize things working out. Not just for me, but for others in my life as well. Self is my essence and I know that it distinguishes me from others. In this instance, I am not talking about the ego. I am talking about who I was before I let all the labels of disease try to take over that essence. For me personally, I had to find my way back there and that journey will look different for each and every one of you, but whether you write two lines on a page, draw art therapy photos under quotes, bullet journal, or just jot down monthly goals and intentions, you can find your way back. Trust the process.
For more information on what came to me one night while I was journaling, see this link on my Mindful Coaching. If you want some guidance on this process, with no strings attached, you can leave at anytime, click on the word support on that page and find me in my closed group. The Head|Heart|Health Club would love to see you this month!
One of the top questions I hear is “I am making improvements in my life, why am I not happy yet?” I get asked this about many things, but in a nutshell, the answer is actually because you really haven’t thought about being happy. Shock! I have thought about it a hundred times…you think. But it drifts off into the sea of other thoughts around what you need to make you happy. If I only had…a bigger house. If I only had…a relationship. More money would really help make me happy. You then carry on with your day and your thoughts about things that would make you happy.
Lots of people are looking for happiness in the wrong places. Some people believe happiness comes when they get what they want. Interesting. What next? Do we stay happy after getting what we want then?
Life is a series of complex decisions; however, what if it didn’t have to be. What if you could declutter your life, get rid of things you don’t want and start over. Interesting concept. Downsize instead of supersize? No way. Hmm. But what if?
Many people don’t believe happiness is a choice that only they can make. I am going to provide you with some tips on how you can choose happiness over and over again, and maybe, just maybe, start to see that is not based off some magical formula, a fairy tale, or even a myth that has been handed down for generations. Happiness is truly what you make of it.
How to Create Lasting Happiness Right Now:
- Start a gratitude journal if you don’t already have one. I know you guys have been watching my weekly talk about this on my fan page when I am Live, but have you started your journal with me? I am not going to stop talking about it, because we focus so much on what’s wrong, we have forgotten our joys y’all. I had to throw a y’all in there so you would know I am serious. Just take a look at your feed. Count the people who post their blessings…for REAL. Umm hmm. Not many, right? Anyway, my exact journal is posted above. I love it!
- Clear your space for happiness. Do you get depressed in a dirty house? An unmade bed? Dirty sheets? No nice smelly things like oils, etc.? Start tidying up to make room for happiness. Happiness can start with an intention. We feel better now because we have done something. It actually raises our vibration to walk into a nice, clean, insert favorite scent here, room. I have a diffuser similar to this one to help me feel relaxed and at ease.
- Work only on what you can change…about you. So many times, I see people worrying about what others are doing on a daily basis. The corrupt politicians, the boss, work issues, family who do x, y, z. All these people have faults just like you. We aren’t getting anywhere in this world by talking about what we don’t like. Period. It has not ever changed one thing in my life. What has? Focusing on what I can do to make things better. Writing articles to help people. Helping people take back their lives makes me happy. No strings attached, just pure happiness. As I work to promote the good I see, things inside of me change as well. As I help others, I help myself.
- Practice makes perfect-ish. I wanted to use this old saying, but let you know that no one is actually perfect. However, practicing gratitude and changing your focus over and over again can actually change your percentage of happiness. No Way. But yes way, because a fancy researcher said so. According to Robert Emmons, PhD in his book, Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, those who regularly practice gratitude can enhance this set point by as much as 25%. I don’t know him, but what a cute book. I am actually reading a similar one…but it’s almost too behavioral study based and long-winded for me.
- Use a wide viewpoint…and not just a narrow one. If you consistently see your problems as the only ones, then that creates an ego-based viewpoint of the world. Be aware of your circle of friends, and what the world is also going through. Cultivate compassion for others and their needs…but not to the point of using your needs as a basis for inserting it into every conversation. That still brings it down to a narrow viewpoint. Social media has made it more “me based” instead of “us based”. Don’t be that way with your friends.
- Always keep trying. Just because you have a set-back, or something sad happens, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel it. Of course you are. But don’t stay in that place forever. Keep on going. Just like I said last week, you have the power to live any reality you want simply by shifting your thoughts to where you want to be.
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Increasing gratitude doesn’t seem like such a hard task, does it? Well for many people who live in pain daily, it is. But what if, just for the next 4 weeks, you focused on other tasks instead of your pain. Maybe you thought about ways to increase your fitness for a week, or to eat beautiful and nutritious food the next week, or ways to help create balance in your life and help deal with your stress, and lastly you increased your self-care. These are actually the steps I started taking when I took back my life from pain.
I began looking deeply inside my soul for true and honest answers to questions that needed to be asked. I developed a series of workbooks on these tasks and questions to help others, but you can read more about that under my Head|Heart|Health tab. I am here to offer you some free resources on ways you can increase gratitude in your life right now, no matter what is going on. Remember who you are talking to here?? trust me when I say I really and truly understand that the first step is often the hardest one to take.
Let’s deconstruct this for a moment. Gratitude is feeling thankful and appreciative for people, things, and sometimes everything in between. That warm feeling you get when you drive up to the coffee window and someone has just paid for yours, or the random man in the grocery store, for whatever reason, hands your family a $50 bill, and says it’s on him. <<< this happened. So if other people are creating experiences for other people like this, no matter what is going on in the NEWS my friends, let’s not promote what we hate. Let’s work to increase feelings of gratitude in ourselves and therefore in others we encounter through our positive actions.
5 Ways to Increase Gratitude:
- Say thank you as your feet hit the floor. Are you in pain? No offense, I totally feel you, but for just a second, shift your thoughts right now as you get out of bed. Whatever your dominant foot is, as you swing it over the bed, the second it touches the floor, say thank you. Say thank you all the way to the bathroom, because that’s where you probably go first. Focus inward as you really let the words thank you settle into your entire being. This gets you ready for the next tip.
- Using a dry-erase marker, write your positive affirmations on the mirra, that’s southern for mirror, and immediately look at them as you are waking up. I don’t know what others need to hear, but coming from 3 years of re-setting my mind to focus on others things instead of pain, I can tell you what I used. I am healthy (I wasn’t), I am whole, (I didn’t think so), and I am healing (I was, but couldn’t see it yet). So I would think to myself I am healthy and envision a healthy me for just a moment and be grateful for that health. I would picture myself whole, which to me at the time was without pain, anger, and depression. Lastly, I would see myself as healed. Someone my girls could look up to again. Not the pajama-clad fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s, well you get the picture, mom I had become. Again, it was all about changing my perspective.
- Journal it down. My writings at first were not really full of gratitude. They actually seemed full of other feelings that I was trying to get away from. So instead of that, I cut myself loose from anyone and anything that created the opposite of what I was really and truly trying to create for myself in my life. I started un-becoming everything I was not. I created a pattern of healing for myself by first going to the worst parts. I deconstructed my fear. Then I didn’t look back. I wrote what I was happy about each day until gradually, I didn’t think about what went wrong as much.
- Yoga or meditation. Yes, eventually, after all the pain, I became a yoga teacher. But I started out slowly. We all have to start somewhere, remember? Here is a post about what I did to start my journey, so you can read a bit more on restorative yoga. This allowed me to still the patterns of my mind and practice an age-old flowing meditation. Please don’t mistake yoga for something it is not. It is not a religion. It is quite simply a method for dealing with the suffering of life. As I started meditation, one yogi told me it can be your time to get closer to God or whatever you believe by listening to your inner wisdom that actually can be God trying to talk to you. It is simply a way to practice mindfulness and inner stillness in this very face paced world.
- Practice pausing in your day. This one is very important because so often, we react first. What if what the other person said to you actually wasn’t about you at all? Yes, it feels that way all the time. I am a Scorpio who is quick to anger…need I say more? What if, for just a moment, the hurtful feelings we got from the e-mail, message or phone call, was paused. Like on TV. Okay, now we have a moment to look at it. You know what, Bob looked stressed out today didn’t he? I wonder if he has too much on his plate and someone already chewed him out, so when he sent this, he in turn, did the same to me because that was the energy he was feeling? I don’t have to continue the pattern. This isn’t even about me at all. Maybe I will go around the corner and say hey, Bob, what can I do to help you? Bob will certainly be surprised. He may even start to feel grateful, as well as sorry, but that’s his stuff, so I am going to promote what I love instead of bashing him right back.
Research has shown through decades of studies, that practicing gratitude can, in fact, have powerful and lasting effects on physical well-being, social relationships, and most importantly self-worth. So often we get caught in a cycle that needs to be broken, and guess what happens when we take back control? Research again reports that we develop stronger immune systems, better sleep, and less pain and aches. Well I’ll be…an example of this. From not moving to yoga teacher…I hope you start some of these practices today! Need even more help? Try this E-book here.
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Stuck in a “Gratitude Rut” because sometimes life is hard?
Years ago, through a series of health issues that seemed to come out of no where, I was left with lots of pain. Darkness began to saturate my thoughts. Pain really does lead to fear…fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering. Yes, Yoda is a wise one. But so was the Buddha who also spoke of suffering. Anyway, through a series of steps, hard steps, I began to turn my thoughts back to what was best for me. That meant getting rid of dead weight. People who did not support my new habits and ways of life. That part was really hard, but necessary. As necessary as breathing because you have to surround yourself with what you are trying to become. That is one of my top shared quotes as said by me, Aimee Halpin. So let’s look at some prompts to help you create new habits of the mind.
- What does it mean to be grateful? Write a few words about what it means to you.
Who do I appreciate? Think long and hard about this one if necessary.
What abilities do I have that I’m grateful for or what am I proud of that I recently accomplished? It can be going to the store. It’s that easy.
What experiences have I had that I am grateful for? Have you ever thought about thanking your body? Weird, I know. But just ponder that for a minute.
What opportunities do I have that I am thankful for that others might not have? If you are unsure, write down 3 synonyms for gratitude and see what comes up in your mind.
What am I taking for granted that, if I stop to think about it, I am grateful for that perhaps others don’t have? Reflect on something that perhaps even made you stronger than you were before it happened.
What is different today than it was a year ago that has really helped me be grateful? Maybe even something that you learned to grow in a way you never thought possible.
- Write down ways that you find balance in your life that you can be grateful for…and if you don’t have self-care practices in place, write ways to add them to your life.
These few suggestions can help change your mindset if you even do one a week. Don’t wait for the right time to think of being grateful…practice it daily. If you can elaborate on the things that are going right in your life, you start to focus energy on the good and more good will be seen…therefore, more good will appear to really come your way. Don’t forget to give it a real chance. It takes time to change your thoughts and methods.
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