I have kept a journal ever since I was a teen, documenting every insignificant detail of my teenage life and slowly graduating to the more “mature” world of young adulthood, writing about troubles at work, the stress that comes with responsibilities etc.
Journal writing to me is like therapy. Writing about my feelings and expressing them in words, helps me put things into perspective and I usually feel better and relieved thereafter. It has certainly helped me through some difficult times in my life.
Two weeks ago however, while leafing through my journal and rereading old entries from a couple of months ago, I was shocked – and even a bit appalled, to be honest with you – at how utterly negative and depressing I had depicted my life on those pages. Sure enough, I had only bothered to write about the things that were troubling and upsetting me – going into every agonizing detail of my feelings.
Judging from those entries, one could easily conclude that I was leading the most miserable of lives, full of stress and unhappiness. When truth be told, I have a pretty amazing life. Sure, I have my ups and downs (who doesn’t?), but I’m in good health, have a loving husband and family and great friends. Not to mention, I spent a year abroad in Myanmar last year and now have the opportunity to relocate to South Africa. So, why the hell had I failed to mention these equally important things in my journal?
Unfortunately, the human mind tends to focus more on the troublesome and tricky things, forever trying to find a solution to fix the problem. Positive and happy experiences are quickly forgotten as there’s nothing to solve there. You’ll agree with me that this paints a rather unrealistic picture of reality, right? This kind of thought pattern tricks us into believing everything in our lives is shit, when the truth is, we’ve simply blocked out all the happy memories and achievements (because, say what you want, we’ve all experienced thousands of those happy moments at some point or the other in our lives).
While it is true that our minds are wired that way, it is equally true that thought patterns can be changed by training your mind to think otherwise. So, what did I do? I started a new “blessings and happy moments” journal, in which I only write about positive things that I experienced that day.
Mind you, it doesn’t always have to be something major like obtaining a job promotion or winning the lottery (I wish!). I make a conscious effort to look out for the small things and am always amazed at how many happy moments I actually experience throughout the course of a day. So many great things, which only a couple of weeks ago I would have completely taken for granted and probably not even registered properly.
It’s the small things like discovering a cool new song, a friendly smile from a stranger, a fun phone call with a friend or relative, discovering a new food/ recipe or simply waking up in a good mood, that matter and make our lives beautiful.
Anything that brings a smile to your lips is worth acknowledging and jotting down as a reminder for future reference when you find yourself in a bad mood again and you think everything is going down the drain.
Now I keep two different journals and let me tell you, I haven’t written in my regular one since I have started this new one. And not because I haven’t been in a bad mood since or because everything went absolutely fabulous. No, I still have my ups and downs. But I’d like to believe that forcing myself to focus on the positive things, has somewhat changed my outlook on life and I am enjoying the journey. It has made a huge difference in the way I go about my everyday routines – constantly looking out for small positive messages, which come my way. It motivates me to see things in a brighter light.
We all know that a positive attitude attracts positivity back – you just have to watch out for it.