Want a simple, powerful way to shape your worldview for the better? A way to focus your mind on the positive and improve the way you opt to experience life? Keep a "Positive Journal."
Defaulting to the negative
A few weeks ago, I was feeling down and frustrated with the way things were unfolding in my life, both personally and professionally. I recognize that any journey is going to have the occasional pothole, but I was starting to feel like the path I was on was cobbled with bumps in the road.
I was bitching about it to my friend Misa who asked me one of those simple questions that zing deep to the heart of things. "Curt," she said, "where's the abundance in your life?" She challenged me to sit down and look at the stories I was creating in my head and explore if there might be alternatives.
It got me thinking about how easy it was to let frustrations and negative thoughts color my whole picture. Overall I'm a pretty positive person, but I can also lapse into an inordinately negative view of things on occasion. How many pages in my journals had been prompted by a need to vent about what wasn't working? Maybe it was time for something different.
Creating a positive space
I decided to start a journal where I would only focus on the positive. There would be no room for bitching, moaning, kvetching or complaining. It would be a combination of focusing on what's right in my life (a lot!) and exploring how the knee-jerk negative can be transformed into positive habits. Think of it as a gratitude journal on steroids!
I knew if I just said, "I'm going to do this," it would have a life span of a week or so, tops. So I decided to make it a 30-day experiment. Every day for thirty days I would write in my Positive Journal. At the end of that time, I would evaluate whether or not I would continue.
I also decided that I would approach it with curiosity. "I wonder what effect, if any, this will have." Rather than trying to force it to be a profound experience that flipped a happy switch, I simply let it have whatever effect would naturally unfold.
Was it a worthwhile experiment? Well, this morning was Day 40, and I'm not traditionally an every day journaler, so that probably something about the value right there.
The journal has had an impact in so many ways. It has focused my attention on the wealth of positive aspects of my life. It forced me to recognize when and how I lapsed into the negative. It got me habitually asking the question, "Where's the positive here?" It has provided a defined space where there is room for nothing but the positive, and that in turn has started seeping into the rest of my life.
Try it yourself
Don't just take my word for it. I challenge you to try this for yourself. Give yourself thirty days to write in your Positive Journal every day (I always do it first thing in the morning, and it often has a tremendous impact on my outlook for the day). See where it takes you.
Explore the abundance in your life (in all areas, not just financial). Explore the positive impact that has. Write about what you're grateful for. Write about the any negative habits that writing in the Positive Journal shines a light on, and what a positive alternative might be.
Most of all, let it unfold naturally and become what you need it to be, not some preconceived notion of what it should be and what impact it should have.
Do it for yourself
For several weeks I only told a couple people in my life that I was even doing it, and even with them, I didn't share any details of what was unfolding. I didn't want to dissipate its energy by shining an external light on it too soon. I felt protective of what was unfolding, and wanted to give it a safe space to become whatever it was going to become.
It's like the analogy of planting a new lawn. You don't invite all your friends over for a backyard barbecue while the tiny green shoots of grass are just poking up. You do it when your lawn has taken root.
If you decide to take me up on the Positive Journal challenge, I would love to hear what effect, if any, it has (after your lawn has taken root, of course).
Need to re-energize your career?
Get started with 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work!
by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst