So last year was an interesting year with lots of different opportunities – both good and bad. I remember back in July of 2015, though, I was struggling badly with a project. I mean, I was incredibly anxious. Saying I was stressed would be a big understatement.
When I realized I was going down this spiral, I needed to change what I was doing and focus on pulling myself up. One key practice I did was journaling at the end of every day.
I wanted to write, for 30 days, in a journal focusing only on what went well that day or what made me happy. I usually reflect on my day already including what I could have done better and what didn’t go well. However, I wanted to focus on positive thoughts to right the ship.
It was a powerful exercise, and I caught myself writing in my journal even when I got home at 4AM and was dead tired. I continued writing beyond 30 days and quickly made a goal to write for 90 days straight! Well, I blew past that, too, and decided to just continue through the rest of the year.
Those 169 posts revealed a lot of interesting things, and effectively ended my spiral and put me on an upwards trajectory. Here are a few quick realizations I made from the exercise:
  1. Creating a habit and sticking to it is hard, but if you focus on why you’re doing it in the first place, it’s much easier.
  2. I only set positive thoughts as the bounds. Otherwise, I was free flowing whatever came to mind. This was great in that it just let me go without pressures of content or length. Just write.
  3. I wrote a lot about people I encountered. I didn’t even need a long conversation with a friend, but just little messages from friends saying hello or quick chats made me happy. It was great to know people were thinking about me. This highlighted how relationships make me happy.
  4. Anything can be turned into a positive. Even when things didn’t go well like a date or a business opportunity, I quickly started looking at why it didn’t work out and how it was good to even have the chance. Further, something else better fit would come along.
  5. What you write is a lot more than what you think. That is, if you think about what went well, you can probably think of 2-3 things. However, when you’re free-flowing and putting it all down on paper, you’ll be surprised how many positive things you’ll end up with. Tip: write starting from the beginning of the day.
  6. Everyone wants to do it, but no one actually does it. I told a lot of people what I was doing, and everyone said they’d do it, too. However, no one actually did. It’s hard to get the ball rolling.
  7. It’s a tool to be used for good. Once you think it’s no good or a burden, it’s okay to stop. I stopped at the start of this year because the practice did what I wanted.
  8. Setting a small goal to write at the end of the day is easily approached rather than thinking about writing EVERYDAY FOR 30 DAYS. Look at the process for what it is… today. Tomorrow is tomorrow.
  9. I went to bed happy, and I woke up happy. I thought to myself to remember something that happened that day. It immediately turned real-time events into positive events thereby influencing the rest of my day’s outlook.

There were number of benefits from the exercise, and I’m real glad I did it. Now, I know I can always use this tool in the future should I catch myself falling again. I highly encourage everyone to try this out for a couple weeks as a therapeutic, self-awareness exercise. You’ll be surprised at how much happier you’ll be and how much more you’re thankful for any given day.

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