Tag Archives: positive psychology

Self-care: How to start a gratitude and success journal

I am starting with a notebook I had in my desk.

I heard about gratitude journals years ago and brushed them off as a waste of time (I have a very “left-brain” background).

After starting my work with Indrani’s Light Foundation I would hear Indrani talking about her gratitude journal, but still filed it away as “something I didn’t have time for”.

Last year in October, I finally decided to give the gratitude journal idea a try but didn’t really have any idea how to get started. I knew that writing a traditional journal entry in complete sentences didn’t feel like something I would actually do, so I worked through a few ideas, and finally landed on something that worked.

Now, when I say “worked,” I mean that I successfully journaled for 17 out of 61 days in October and November before stopping completely in December.

You must get started somewhere right?

In episode 15 of the Caring for the Cargivers Podcast Indrani, Amy, and I discussed some of our self-care practices. One of the self-care practices I want to improve upon in 2018 is keeping a gratitude and success journal. When I started keeping my own journal in late 2017 I had no idea what I was doing, but over time I managed to find a system that works for me.

To kick off 2018 I thought I would share how I am using my gratitude and success journal in the hopes it might help you give the idea a try.

How to start a gratitude and success journal (the Jeremie way)

My template includes: gratitude, habits, and successful day.

  1. Buy a journal – I found an empty journal we had sitting around the house (see the image at the start of the post).
  2. Decide what you want to track daily in your journal – I track gratitude, habits, and successful days.
  3. Create a template for your journal entries on the first page – or if you are less worried about structure skip this step. Remember this is YOUR journal.
  4. Pick how often you want to write in your journal – I am committed to writing in mine every week day, if I make entries on the weekend that is a bonus. I also try to write in mine first thing in the morning before starting my work day.
  5. Start using your journal – I am re-kickstarting my journal Friday January 26th.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up when you get off track. Just start again.

How I use my journal

An example of my entry for January 26th.

Section One: Gratitude

I start each day’s entry by reflecting on the previous day and writing down three things that I am grateful for from that day.

I reflect on my previous day for a couple of reasons:

  • I find I am usually too tired before bed to properly reflect on my day and write down my thoughts. If I try to journal at night, I just don’t do it.
  • By writing these three things down first thing in the morning I get an instant boost of energy to my day.

Section Two: Habit Formation

This middle section of my journal entry is dedicated to forming new positive habits. Currently I am trying to go for a walk, drink 4-8 glasses of water, and take my vitamins and other meds every day.

To form these activities into habits I know I have to repeat them enough times that they become routine: actions I take without even having to think about them. By recording my success with each habit in my journal I am reminded to complete each daily task and eventually (hopefully) form a new habit.

Section Three: Successful Day

Every day I select 3-5 tasks from my much longer task list that, if I finish them, will make me feel like I accomplished something and made my day successful.

This section is super important to my day. In the past I have always worked through my day using a long list of tasks I need to complete. What I discovered was, even when I finished a lot of the tasks on that list, I wasn’t feeling very accomplished. There were so many more tasks on the list.

For the end of 2017, and for 2018 I have stopped working of my long task list. Instead, I record 3-5 tasks that I need to complete each day that will make me feel like the day was successful.

If I manage to get more tasks done…great! But achieving more than the five tasks listed in my journal is not a requirement. Only the three to five in the journal need to be finished for my day to be successful.

At the end of 2017 this tweak to my daily routine made a big difference. I found that, at the end of the day, while wrapping things up and transitioning to family time I was feeling much more accomplished and had higher levels of energy.

By limiting my expectations of myself (which usually were not very realistic or fair) I have set myself up to succeed and put myself in a better headspace for the rest of the day and evening.

Journaling every day

Right now, I have a one-day-in-a-row streak going for my 2018 gratitude and success journal.

I am hoping that I can make writing in this journal a successful part of my self-care routine. However, I am also not going to beat myself up for not getting this self-care practice “right”. I think that is an important piece of any self-care routine: if the self-care routine makes you feel worse because you aren’t doing it, then find something different to try.

A self-care routine that makes you feel guilty isn’t doing its job.

I am looking forward to getting better at journaling, and I would love your help. Let me know in the comments below what your gratitude journal (or any sort of daily journal practice) looks like.

Caring for the Caregivers – The Anyway Poem – Episode #6 Bonus Audio

In the Episode #6 meditation Indrani mentions “The Anyway Poem”. Listen to this episode #6 bonus audio to hear Indrani read the poem.

When the going got tough… I had to find a way to keep going

*Psst.. Did you know you can highlight any sentence in this post to automatically share it via Twitter or Facebook? Go ahead, give it a try!**


cheerful-happy-woman-enjoying-nature-beautiful-sky-balloonsI have been having some significant issues the past few weeks.

Most of the time I am able to stay in the moment and to stay out of negative thinking and self judgment. However, a few days ago, all my resolve fell apart and I had nothing left.

I could not crawl into a hole and hide. I could not run away from home. I could not stop caring for the people around me.

I had to find a way through a difficult 24-72 hour period.

So I chose to live by the positive psychology of PERMA.

P is for Positive Emotion
E is for Engagement
R is for Relationship
M is for Meaning and Purpose
A is for Achievement

These five elements are what make life sweet.

If the details of each day put a little deposit into each of the buckets and you can look at the day and feel good and positive about what you accomplished then you are living with PERMA.

Here is an example:

Let’s say you are facing some significant personal issues and you have no energy to  do anything for anyone but you want to do a little something for a few key people and you want to feel great about what you do.

Pick a person who needs a little help and do just a small thing, like maybe giving them some tea or a meal or just a call on the tele.

When you do this small thing you will get Positive Emotion from the deed.

You will be Engaged with the person you love.

You will be building the Relationship with that person.

You will have done something that gives Meaning and Purpose to your life.

You will have Achieved something with and for them.

Stacking up these bits of PERMA during a tough day will make you feel a lot better AND will flood your brain with Positive emotion.

It’s not always easy to find something that fills all the buckets, so just being able to fill 3 or 4 is a great start.


Love and light,


Indrani

The Power of the Positive Question…PPQ…

positive-thinking via runnersami.wordpressThe power of the positive in the field of Psychology is reshaping the way we think about self improvement.

It postulates, in a nut shell, that we can change our brains and our behaviors by asking “What’s right with us and how can we get more of the things we want in life?”

This difference is in direct contrast to the traditional view of Psychology which focuses on “What’s wrong with us and how do I fix me and you and all that is bad in the world?”

To begin to understand the PPQ applied in any situation, do this deceptively simple exercise:

Bring to mind something that is troubling you. Pick something that is mildly troubling for now so you won’t get caught up in too much emotion.

Now ask and answer the following questions on a piece of paper:

1. What can I be proud of with this situation?

2. What can I be grateful for with this situation?

3. What are the positive and important elements within this situation?

4. What’s important to me about this situation?

5. How does this situation inform me about myself, the other and the issue at hand?

6. Using all of my values (take the survey at www.viasurvey.org) how can I positively affect this situation?

I hope you will take the time to do this exercise; it will give you great insight about yourself and give you a different view about whatever issue you are investigating.

Have fun!

 

Love and light,

Indrani

Habitual habits…..

 

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” J. Drydenold dirt via olddirt.wordpress

I am taking a class in Positive Psychology and my teacher, Tal, just allowed the wonderful quote above to escape!

I say escape because I felt that this quote freed me from something, but what?

As I write this, I do not know the answer to this question….and that’s okay. Actually it is more than ok. It is ok because NOW I KNOW that I will be actively searching my own life and behaviors to unearth what habits are “making me”.

I will use brushes that gently move the dirt and sand from an investigated habit, because using heavy machinery will only expose huge lumps of habits and not allow me to actually SEE what they are.

In plain language, I will not herald pompous proclamations that I will drastically change. I will whisper the change to myself and allow my mind, heart and intuition to guide me to the next place of excavation.
Let me give you a real life example.

In the past few weeks, I experienced a huge disappointment with someone close to me. I was not in a place where I could easily amend the situation. I was in a foreign country and did not have access to all that I needed to address what was happening. The only things I had were my heart, my mind, my intuition and my habits.

I now realize that I chose to investigate how I had habitually dealt with huge disappointments.

In the past, I would scream and yell, allow nasty words to escape from my mouth and make huge proclamations of what I would do in the future if this EVER happened again. I would let off steam that would quickly dissipate, but it left behind bad will and very hurt feelings. This time, I knew at some level that I did not want to act like this screaming heebeegeebee.

But what should I do? How should I act?

I tried for 24 hours to push it away…in other words, use heavy machinery and dredge the hurt out of me.

It did not work.
The next 24 hours, I saw the habit rear its ugly head and it wanted to charge full bore into the perpetrator…it wanted to destroy!

I witnessed all this happening in my body and I was shocked at the internal war that was going on. The habit did not want to give up…it was as though it had a mind of its own.

I cried a lot about it and in between the bouts of tears I kept asking, what is my lesson here?
What is my lesson here?
I did not receive any God-like voice telling me the lesson. I so very much wanted a definitive lesson that would allow my pain to dissipate.
My pain did not disappear.
I had to rise above my pain, rise above my tears, and find a solution while in the jaws of the disappointment.
It took me about 6 hours to arrive at a solution that I could live with, that would sustain my humanity and also allow the perpetrator to sustain theirs.

Some of the questions I had to answer while in pain were:

What are you here for?
Who are you here for?
Is this situation a deal breaker for your being here?
Do you respect all the players in this scenario?
Do you believe that people can make mistakes?
Will harping of someone’s faults help you to find a solution here?

As I allowed the answers to these and other questions to float into my consciousness, I felt the tears drying up and I began to focus on how to make the best of a really bad situation. I also reminded myself that no one died and no one had a brain tumor.

So I rose above the monster disappointment and I managed to participate at the event. I was not 100% myself, but I also had not allowed the habit of flying off the handle to derail me entirely.

How will you KNOW when the HABIT monster rears its massive head?
You will know because you will want to strike out, strike at and annihilate the person you are blaming.
That is when you have to RUN in the opposite direction. That is when you have to force yourself to step off of the bulldozer and pick up the littlest paint brush and take your time to uncover the layers of dirt and grime that have accumulated over the years.

This is when you have to be the best human you can be, all the while allowing your human emotions.
It takes patience and practice, but you have the time!
Time will be your friend if you let it!

 

Love & light,

Indrani

Sometimes I feel like a pilgrim….

Sometimes, I feel like a pilgrim…. far from home, in a strange land and surrounded by strangers.
I do.
I sometimes look around me and wonder who I am, what brought me here and often, why it’s still so hard to make sense of the tensions swirling.
Sometimes I feel like I should be home, free of all challenges.
I mean, after all, have I NOT gone through enough over the past 5 decades?

Then, it occurs to me…
HEY, INDRANI… You got this all upside down!
The negatives happened and yes, you have the scars to prove it. BUT the positives happened too!
Why are you NOT counting those?
Ahhhh, so you (voice in my head) want me to PRETEND that the negatives didn’t hurt?
You want me to forget the pain?

No, says the sweet voice, I am just asking you to replay the positive tapes as often as you replay the negative ones…then maybe you will create new neuro-pathways for magic to happen.

Say what?

What are neuro-pathways? How can they create magic?
It’s quite simple really…what you focus your attention on will begin to fill the spaces of your mind and the mind will eventually allow less and less psychic power and energy to flow toward the negative memories.
Yes, it can happen.
It happened to me!

One of my favorite books, The Happiness Advantage puts it like this, it’s like “getting stuck in a positive Tetris effect”.
The author says, “Just as it takes days of concentrated practice of a video game, training your brain to notice more opportunities takes practice focusing in the positive. The best way to kick-start this is to start making a daily list of good things in your job, your career and your life….write down three good things that happened that day, and your brain will be forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives…in just five minutes a day, this trains the brain to become more skilled at noticing and focusing on possibilities for personal and professional growth and seizing opportunities to act on them.”

You don’t have to take my word for it. Read the book The Happiness Advantage and absorb the wisdom for yourself.

So instead of this negativity thing that some of us have going on…let’s try a positivity thing.
Why?
Why not?
If you are going to fill your brains with the past, why not have it be the positive past?
Give it a try, you have nothing to lose but stress and more stress.
This could be the best gift you can give yourself, the gift of the positive bias in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

Love and light
Indrani