New Year’s resolutions and something I mentioned was that your word is a reflection of how you want to feel, not just what you hope to accomplish. In the past, I’ve used words like simplify, discipline, and intention. This year I wanted something that I could really take to heart.
Let’s be honest, 2016 sucked for a lot of people. Our household was no exception, not that it was all bad but, but there was so much negativity that it was so easy to focus on that and miss all the good stuff. It was a year of doing some really cool shit—like launching Feather & Wild, starting a podcast, landing an amazing side-gig, and some amazing travel—and some of that was super scary. But at times it was easy to lose all of that beneath that negativity that infested 2016—politics, illness, overwhelm, societal upheaval—it was the year that just kept on giving, and not in the best of ways.
When I started contemplating how I wanted to feel in 2017, all I could think of was that I didn’t want to feel the way I felt for most of 2016. I want to feel healthy, vibrant, fulfilled, successful, accomplished…I want to be happy! But how do you feel that way when sometimes it feels like the world is falling apart around you?
In 2016 I got to talk to and hear from a lot of amazing women with amazing ideas (okay, and maybe some guys, too). And something that surfaced time and time again was that we get to choose how we feel, and being mindful of that is a muscle we have to exercise.
In summer 2016, I realized that I was not feeling well. At some point, I had just accepted that being tired all the time and mush-brained was “normal” and over the summer I decided that I was done accepting that. I started working with the amazing Amy Kuretsky and she dove way deeper than the physical symptoms and we started looking at how my feelings of overwhelm were contributing to the physical health. She introduced me to Brooke Castillo’s Self-Coaching 101 and it was a real eye-opener. It taught me an important truth…we’re responsible for how we feel! Essentially, it’s this…
When you think a thought—you feel a feeling. When you feel a feeling—you take action or not because of how you feel. Your actions (behaviors) create your experience in the world and ultimately what your life looks like—your results. If your thoughts suck, your life is going to suck. If you aren’t conscious of your negative thoughts, you are enslaved by them. – from Brooke Castillo’s Self-Coaching 101
The more mindful you become of that first section, your thoughts, the better control you have over how you feel. And that started me on a journey of mindfulness and by practice meditation. And I’m not going to go too deep into that today because this is already getting long-winded.
So, let’s take from that that we get to choose how we feel by being mindful of our thoughts before they become feelings. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and dwelling on how crappy we feel or those negative thoughts, we can rewire that feedback loop into something more positive. And for me, the key has been gratitude. The more I practice gratitude, the easier it is to be mindful of all the positive things in my life. That’s not to say that I’m now Positive Peggy or Grateful Gertrude all the time, but it means that I now have a mental cue to stop and reassess a situation when I realize that feedback loop is getting dark.
So let’s get down to some practical nitty gritty…just how am I incorporating my word into my daily life?
- Journaling – I am making a point to write down a couple things I’m grateful for each day. I don’t overcomplicate it or put too much pressure on myself to write a whole lot. Sometimes it’s one word, sometimes it’s a sentence. I’m using my Self Journal for this as it’s built right into my daily planning page with three lines for the AM and three lines for the PM. The Five Minute Journal app has a great gratitude section, but I often forgot to open another app on my phone and like having it right there to do when I plan my day. If you take up this habit, any place you can write or type will do, just try to make it a daily thing.
- Put the word EVERYWHERE. – I actually created this print and hung it in my office. A smaller version is in the front of my planner, and I have a few others that I need to sprinkle around the house. I’ve also budgeted for a new piece of jewelry to go with my “Do Scary Shit” bracelet from last year. Wearing my word is a brilliant reminder. Oh, and that little print I made is the background on my phone lock screen, too. It’s everywhere.
- Read about it! – I’ve been reading all sorts of articles and books about gratitude. I’ll put some of my favorite links below if you’re interested.
- Say it. – I’ve taken up the mantra “Happy. Thank you. More please.” And I say it every chance I get. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll understand a bit more…but if you haven’t, you’ll still get it. I actually held that mantra for over a year after hearing the movie mentioned on the Being Boss podcast. I actually just finally watched the movie recently, and it drove it home further (along with a couple other gems related to how we think about ourselves).
The more I exercise gratitude, the easier it’s becoming to find the diamonds in the cow shit. And since I can’t control the circumstances in 2017 any more than I could in 2016, I think I’d better get pretty adept at that…
Do you have a word for 2017? Please share it!
For more reading about gratitude & mindfulness:
- The Science Behind How Mindfulness Can Help Break Negative Thought Patterns – Jeena Cho for Forbes
- Attitude of Gratitude: How Feeling Grateful Can Make You More Successful – Allen Brouwer for BestSelfCo
- How to Start a Gratitude Practice to Change Your Life by Helen Russell for tiny buddha
- A Practical Guide to Gratitude by Unstuck
- Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude by Greater Good Science Center – University of California, Berkeley