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5 Ways A Gratitude Journal Can Improve Your Life

5 Ways A Gratitude Journal Can Improve Your Life

A gratitude journal is a reflection of the things you are thankful for. It is the simple act of recording things into a notebook about things that strike you during the day as having gone well. Although usually done with pen and paper, the multitude of online journalling tools widely available means that you can choose to blog online instead of writing it down, or even post images and caption them instead. When keeping a gratitude journal on a regular basis, there are a host of benefits that arises which can increase mental wellbeing and improve aspects of your life.

It gives you a choice

Knowing you have a choice in life is powerful. Many studies have shown that choice influences your satisfaction in life as well as your coping ability. There will always be at least one thing you can put in your gratitude journal, such as the bus arriving on time or the elevator not breaking down on your way out. The very worst can happen to anyone, but knowing you have a choice to see the good in spite of that is crucial for helping you to maintain your ability to manage yourself well during these situations.

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It teaches you gratitude

Gratitude is feeling appreciative or thankful. We are taught to say thank you by others from an early age, but feeling grateful comes only from within. The act of noting down things you are thankful for helps you to recall the feeling of gratitude, whether the feeling was brief or not. This comes in handy particularly when facing difficult times, when gratitude can often take a back seat to many other feelings that arise easily such as anger, depression or annoyance. Gratitude itself is also associated with other effects such as increased empathy, sensitivity and happiness, which in turn strengthens your ability to learn positive emotions.

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It prepares you to handle problems more calmly

Being grateful doesn’t mean you will ignore your problems, but helps you to shift into a positive and calmer perspective to deal with them productively. Our internal talk is a key factor in determining how easily we slip into depressed, angry or unhappy moods. If you notice a lot of thoughts such as “I won’t be able to do it, why even try” or “why is he acting like so selfishly” in reaction to various events, this can be indicative of negative self talk that has been implicitly reinforced over the years. A gratitude journal helps to reframe your internal self talk gradually to take on a more positive tone by focusing on things that went well, and therefore help you to see problems more objectively and handle them in better ways.

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It keeps you in the present

The very act of journalling grateful thoughts increases your mindfulness by keeping you in the present. Too often, overthinking and dwelling on negative events of the day will keep you distracted and unable to focus on the present task at hand. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you to learn practiced focus as you concentrate on recalling and noting down positive aspects of your day, as well as physically distract you from acting on the impulse arising from any negative feelings.

You become more resilient

The more things you are grateful for, and the more you practice recording down this gratitude, the more easily positive thinking will come to you over time. Your thoughts influence your actions, and so by paying more attention to your gratitude journal, your focus on this process will enable positive thinking to stick and take on a more automatic role in your thoughts. By repeating this process you will increase your resilience, which is the ability to be strong and bounce back after setbacks.

Featured photo credit: Photo Credit: J Yung via photos.google.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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