Accentuate the Positive
By Marian Connor
I was thinking…
Many years ago I discovered my childhood diary, a little turquoise book with a fastening that locked with a tiny little key, which was made from a substance, so soft, it twisted out of shape whenever you attempted to unlock the contents, so you always had to revert to a hair clip to do the job instead, bit of a bad design really.
I must have been about 7 or 8 when I wrote this record of daily doings which consisted of childish musings and barely legible writing with capital letters thrown in all over the place, just for the hell of it. Actually come to think of it, I still write like that but now I try to convince myself its ‘creative’ instead of just a mess.
Why on earth was I writing a diary? Did I think my life was so fascinating I had to capture it for posterity? The ‘today I went to school’ and ‘today I wore my new shoes’ were interspersed with things I wanted to do. I wanted to make things, read books and dance – and a lifetime later, I still do.
I wonder if children subliminally know that, stating positive goals, things to aspire to and move towards, rather than things to dislike and avoid, are empowering and beneficial to them?
All the diary stuff came to an end, I don’t recall ever writing a journal after primary school but of late, I have been encouraged by lots of current research into positive psychology, to start again.
I have ditched the ‘what I did today’ entries other than to share any good bits with those I think might be interested in an article, or a film, or an exhibition. And I’m concentrating on daily gratitude’s. In our last blog ‘Raindrops on Roses’ I made a list of things I like, this blog is an extension of that. Each day I try to be mindful of at least 3 things I am grateful for that day.
Number 1 is usually covered by the fact I woke up that morning and all my bits are working. ‘Oh no’ I hear you moan she’s one of those who is ‘just happy to be alive’ even if the world is falling around her ears. As if being alive was no big deal. No, I am not asking you to be grateful for crumbs, although some days it feels as if someone else has eaten the biscuit and all you’re left with is crumbs. But I am happy to be awake and well. If you have ever had any issues with your body’s homeostasis going a bit wonky, be it a temperature or a tumour, you know what a treat wellbeing is.
Asking yourself what you are grateful for and acknowledging it can improve your overall quality of life.
“The most important decisions we can make in our lives is whether to see the world as a friendly or a fearful place to live in.” (Paraphrased by many eminent minds from a Albert Einstein quote)
Writing a journal helps clarify your thoughts. Research shows the physical act of writing has a greater impact than speaking the words. It filters what your brain is processing and gives more importance to what you are focusing on at that moment. Telling the brain to pay attention to the positive to celebrate the present.
Being grateful improves overall health, aids sleep and lowers stress levels resulting in a lift of mood and life satisfaction. At present there is a great deal of interest in gratitude, I find the work of Martin Seligman and Robert Emmons really interesting.
If you are finding this journal idea a little difficult, try this; think of the things you would rather not live without, your family, friends, home, your talents and skills, your freedom. Usually they are ‘just part of the furniture’ but how do you feel about their removal? Could they be worth giving a nod of gratitude to?
“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” (Henri Matisse)
But if you really can’t be arsed with the writing, at the very least begin by saying it, speak out loud the things that make life good. We really need to big up the good stuff.
A reminder of things to appreciate –
Tile/Header Image – Leather Book/Diary handmade by Artisan Graham
Aretha Franklin singing ‘Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive’ – YouTube clip
Gratitude: Louie Schwartzberg at TEDxSF – YouTube clip
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