I ran into a friend of mine recently and she told me that she’s had a hard year. My heart wanted to give her the deepest hug, while another part of me wondered if there was anything in her life that was easier or better than she recalls. I guess that’s the therapist in me, or rather the glass half full gal.
I watched a TED Talk recently, and the speaker shared research about the dichotomy of ‘glass half full versus glass half empty’ folks. And we really do sit on one side of the scale. In this talk, she also speaks about how much longer bad news sits in our bodies and weighs on us. A good grade or compliment can boost our ego and self-esteem momentarily, but getting stuck in a traffic jam or getting constructive criticism can last for a whole day, or longer. Our brains are more apt to stick with the negative stuff. So being that the brain is a muscle, it takes work to change this.
I love being reminded that the brain is a muscle that can change, adapt and learn. Be it excelling in Sudoku, learning a new language or to knit, or even learning to ride a bike for the first time – all of this changes how our mind works. So the same can be said for changing negative viewpoints to a more positive outlook on life.
Brene Brown talks about this in her work too. She addresses how to change your narrative so that we can reckon our emotions and be more mindful to stay on top of them. I love that. So how do you do that, right? It starts with simply being aware of your feelings first. Take notice of them, say ‘hi’ if you will. Then work on looking at what the story is behind the feelings. This may lead to some surprising discoveries, but it’s important to unpack. Then, WRITE IT DOWN. It doesn’t have to be a long journal entry, but writing things can help us unpack what’s on our mind even more
I love the quote from above, about loving life and that being reflected back. I know it can be hard to ‘just think on the positive side’ but it’s also so imperative to our healing to be able to look at things in a positive or grateful or joy-filled way. That way, we can begin to see change, or happiness, or growth and healing. Mind over mood indeed.
Journaling may not be the thing you want to do after a long day, or even to have to wake up early to do when all you can do is try and sleep a few minutes more. So instead of committing to writing 3 pages a day, and to feel like you have to write an essay, give yourself time and permission to write anything down that was positive about today, that reflects something that made you laugh or brought you joy. It may be hard to do at the beginning, but you may happily surprise yourself when you can think of more than 3 things each day that were positive.
Here are some journal prompts that I really like, as a place to start:
1) Think of something from this week that was a moment with play in it. Try to recapture it and write down what happened. What was the emotion you felt in this time of play?
2) List 10 things that make you feel loved
3) What are some special moments you cherish in your life?
4) The most memorable place in nature I’ve been to is…(and then try to replicate it)
5) Make a list of small gestures from other people in your life that have made a difference.