Change your life (seriously!) with a Positive Journal
In 2008, my business was in freefall, and I was broke, broke, broke (not to mention stressed, stressed, stressed). The financial crisis had hit me hard – not many people were thinking about creating careers that lit them up when they were worried about survival.
I was complaining to a friend about my situation and she said something that stopped me in my tracks. “Curt, where is the abundance in your life?”
I realized that I actually had great gobs of abundance in my life – just not the financial version. And yet it was my stress about the financial variety that was taking up my entire field of view. I realized I needed to do something to focus more of my awareness on what was positive in my life.
Knowing that any attempt at regular journaling I had made in the past had a limited life span, I decided to create a framework by making it a 30-Day Experiment. I love 30-Day Experiments. They’re long enough to start seeing results, but not so long that night on impossible to stick with it.
My only rule for the journal was that anything I wrote in it had to have a positive focus. Here are the four main areas I explored:
Gratitude: I made it a regular habit to do a deep dive into gratitude. The more I did it, the more I saw reasons to feel grateful, both big and small.
Abundance: First I made a laundry list of all the kinds of abundance I experienced in my life (love, freedom and flexibility, ideas, beauty, health, fun, etc.). Then I started picking them one at a time and asking, “Why is that important? What is the positive impact of that in my life?”
Shifting out of the negative: When I found myself stuck in a negative rumination, or a habitual negative perception, I would sometimes explore how to shift that? How could I look at things from a more positive angle? What are the positive possibilities?
Positive question prompts: I started using open-ended prompts to help me spotlight the positive. For example, “Life is good because _____,” and, “I feel confident and capable when _____.”
So what about the title to this post? Isn’t that just a tad hyperbolic? Well no, in my experience, that was exactly what keeping a Positive Journal did. More accurately, it changed my experience of my life. If you think of your awareness as a pie chart, my daily focus on the positive increased the percentage of that pie that was taken up with seeing the positive.
I went into it with a fairly open mind. I didn’t really know what effect the experiment would have on me. Turns out it was huge. It was actually a key part of being able to emotionally navigate a really challenging time.
Here are some of the outcomes I experienced:
Noticing the positive: What’s good start entering my awareness more naturally. It was already there, but this expanded my awareness of it.The more I paid attention to the positive, the more positive I noticed.
Looking for the positive: Not only did I passively start to notice the good stuff in my life, I also found myself actively scanning to find more. It wasn’t something I put effort into; it just started happening on its own.
Short-circuiting the negative: I started noticing the negative, limiting stories my mind created and automatically looking for alternative, life-enhancing stories.
I highly, highly recommend trying this. Make it a 30-Day Experiment and see what happens. Try to find a regular time each day and dive on in.
If you do it, I would love to know how it goes! Please share your experience in the comments below.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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