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The Multifaceted Benefits of Keeping a Mindfulness Journal

The Multifaceted Benefits of Keeping a Mindfulness Journal

We’ve been hearing more and more about the importance of mindfulness from mental health experts and spiritual guides around the world. From Western psychologists to Eastern monks, the benefits of practicing mindfulness have been touted as revolutionary. But when it comes to the specifics, many people still don’t understand mindfulness or how it can be practiced on a daily basis. Thus the introduction of a mindfulness journal is the perfect way to bring this concept down to earth.

Catharsis

Why are so many writers in love with their craft? It turns out, writing is not just useful in certain circles, but for anyone who adopts the habit. Dr. James Pennebaker, a researcher, and author of Writing to Heal, found that writing has a tremendous healing component that most people are unaware of. By writing about traumatic and emotional experiences, humans are better able to organize fragmented memories, accept the past, and release negative thoughts. Thus, keeping a mindfulness journal can serve as a cathartic practice of releasing the emotional baggage of the day.

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Gratitude

Another positive outcome of keeping a mindfulness journal is that you can recount the good things instead of taking them for granted. Especially for those with busy and hectic lives, it can be extremely difficult to truly absorb and celebrate the positive aspects of life. We have several positive experiences on a daily basis, yet most of them are forgotten immediately. Researchers have found that writing about what you’re grateful for is linked to better sleep, lower anxiety levels, and even higher satisfaction in romantic relationships.

Decision-making

Poet and activist Kelly Harris once said, “I truly believe we don’t know how we feel until we write it down.” While she probably did not research this topic, her findings have been matched by the researchers at the University of Michigan. They found that writing out various options helped people explore alternatives they otherwise may not have considered. They also found that those who wrote to make their decisions were less biased and more confident that they’d made the right choice. So if you are looking for clarity and assurance, writing about tough decisions can help you draw conclusions.

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Rewiring

Perhaps the most impressive benefit of keeping a mindfulness journal is its ability to influence your brain. Studies have found literal differences in the brains of those who meditate and those who don’t. Because writing and other artistic activities can put you in a meditative or “theta” brainwave state, journaling can help rewire your brain. A calmer brain means less reactivity when placed in stressful situations, and an improved ability to make good decisions under pressure. You may not even notice these subtle benefits over time. However, others are likely to notice a calmer, more balanced version of you, as you navigate through your day.

Keeping Track

We all have goals. Unfortunately, attaining them is not always what is happening in the real world. Procrastination and a general uncertainty about how to get started keep many people from making progress. Instead of occasionally thinking about your goals as if they are distant pipe dreams, you can keep track of them very closely through journaling. Journaling allows you to make your goals a part of your everyday life, bringing small steps into your reality. After consciously thinking and writing about your goals each day for a year, you may find that you’ve learned, changed, and accomplished many of the tasks that will get you there. Without a journal, working towards goals may remain a muddled and intangible process.

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Assigning Meaning

“What happens to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it,” says mentor, Michael Hyatt. Oftentimes, we’re not even aware of why we have certain feelings or experiences throughout the day. You might feel overwhelmed, depressed, or angry as a default response to your environment. It may seem that these recurring feelings arise from small nuisances, like a task at work or a friend making a comment. But recurring feelings always come from a deeper belief, otherwise, you would not experience those small nuisances in such a negative way. Journaling helps you unearth what certain events and situations really mean to you. You may find that these interpretations are extremely subjective and not always accurate, making your negative feelings entirely unnecessary.

Featured photo credit: Fredrik Rubensson/Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude Every Day

Maintaining a positive attitude is critical when you want to achieve anything or simply improve the quality of your life. Most success literature will talk about the power of positive thinking and how important it is, but it’s often easier said than done.

In this article, you’ll find 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude no matter what’s going on in your life.

1. You Determine Your Reality

It’s important to realize that you determine your reality by the way you react to the outside world. When something happens, you get to choose whether it’s a positive or negative situation and react accordingly.

For example, if you lose your job, your first reaction will likely be one of anger, frustration, and hopelessness. However, what if you were able to turn those emotions around and look at that experience as an opportunity.

You now have the chance to find a job where you will be able to learn new skills and perhaps even be happier. And in the meantime, you have some free time to analyze what direction you want the next stage of your life to go in.

2. Start Your Day Strong

Most people have to drag themselves out of bed, and this sets a negative state of mind for their entire day. Positive people create a long-term morning ritual that reinforces how great life is and how happy they are to be alive.

I used to wake up and immediately turn on Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life to get me into a positive mood. Now I start my day by reading or listening to something positive. Whether you have 1 minute, 15 minutes, or an hour to dedicate to your ritual, you can start the day in a way that helps you feel relaxed and ready for the day ahead.

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Cultivate a positive attitude with a great morning routine.

    3. Exercise Is the Natural Feel-Good Drug

    Exercise is a great way to maintain a good attitude because of all the positive chemicals it releases into the bloodstream.

    One study found that between groups who participated in high-intensity interval training, moderate continuous training, and no exercise, those in the second group experienced the greatest drop in depressive symptoms and stress[1]. Therefore, if you’re looking to exercise to help you feel good, get your heart rate up, but don’t push too hard or you may increase overall stress.

    Also, remember that exercise can include many activities. If you don’t like running, try dancing or kickboxing instead. Put on some upbeat music to kick up the positive vibes even more.

    4. Use Books, Audio and Videos to Overload Your Brain with Positivity

    There are millions of amazing books, podcasts, and videos for you to absorb from people who are inspiring and living the life of their dreams. Tap into their positive emotions and their experience by learning how they think and what they do to create the lives they want.

    You can do this in the morning or while exercising, eating, commuting, cooking, cleaning… there’s always time for positivity.

    5. Your Language Shapes Your Thoughts

    Little changes in your language can change the way you think and how you act. Whenever someone greets you and asks how you’re doing, do you answer with “fine” or “not too bad”? Think about just what this language is communicating to others… and yourself.

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    I always answer with “great,” “fantastic,” or “amazing.” Not only does this remind me that life really is great, but it usually helps the other person shift toward a positive attitude as well.

    Also, take some time to look at the way your inner voice talks to you. Is that language positive or negative? If it’s overly critical or negative, it may be time to tap into some mindfulness meditation in order to shift your inner critic to an inner cheerleader.

    6. Hang out With Positive People

    It is often said that you will have a similar level of health, income and lifestyle as the five people you spend the most time with.

    So if you want to be fit, then start to hang out with fit people. Want to start a business? Then hang out with business owners. And if you want to be positive, make sure you’re hanging out with positive people[2].

    7. Show Your Appreciation for Others

    By appreciating others for a job well done, their outfit, or their smile, you start to cause a positive chain reaction. Stop complaining and focus on all the good others are doing around you.

    Don’t you feel great when you receive a compliment from someone else? Well, if you want to receive more, then start giving them out and watch what happens to the people around you.

    One particular study found that people who sent letters of gratitude experienced significant increases in happiness scores[3]. If you don’t feel like writing a letter, send a nice text to someone who recently helped you out, or send an email thanking your coworker for always helping pick up the slack around the office. Whatever it is, take some time to show gratitude.

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    8. Garbage In, Garbage Out

    This is an expression from programming where the result is only as good as the input. If you’re feeding yourself with negativity all day long, then it’s pretty obvious you’re going to be feeling negative as well.

    A great deal of the media thrives on negativity. Put yourself on a negativity diet (including people) and watch how much easier it is to maintain your positive attitude.

    9. Stop Negative Thoughts in Their Tracks

    It’s hard to be a constantly positive person, and negative thoughts are going to bubble up from time to time. These will be more frequent in the beginning but can decrease as you practice the tips we’re talking about. When you start to notice negative thoughts, you can use a pattern interrupt to stop them in their tracks.

    The idea is to interrupt your current thought pattern and shift to a more positive outlook. One way to do this is to set a visual or auditory cue. It can be something as simple as a bracelet you wear each day or the sound of a car passing outside your window. Whenever you see or hear the cue, use it to shift your thoughts to something positive.

    You can learn more on how to shift your mindset and negative attitudes in the following video:

    10. Live With Gratitude

    So many positive things happen during our day, and we often ignore them while letting one negative comment or event ruin our mood. It can help to keep a gratitude journal where you jot down things you are grateful for each night or during the day.

    If you’re reading this, then you probably live with a roof over your head and food in your belly, which is a daily struggle for a large portion of the world. However, we often take these things for granted and don’t realize just how great we have it.

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    Try refocusing your thoughts towards everything you do have instead of what you don’t. One study found that reflecting on past experiences with a sense of gratitude can lead to increases in both hope and happiness[4]. That’s a great reason to give it a go today.

    You can find more ways to practice gratitude in this article.

    11. Recharge Your Batteries

    One key to adopting a positive attitude is taking the time to recharge your batteries. This might mean taking a few hours on the weekend to read a positive book or taking a few weeks for a holiday.

    If you’re not in the position to travel, you can take a staycation, or have a “home holiday” where you simply switch off from the outside world and spend time doing things you love.

    Final Thoughts

    You now have 11 tips for maintaining your positive attitude, but they are no use to you unless you implement them into your life.

    Start small, and pick the easiest tip or the one that you really love and introduce it into your life starting right now. Then, over time, start implementing the other tips and watch your positivity soar.

    More Tips About Staying Positive

    Featured photo credit: Pepe Cast Zam via unsplash.com

    Reference

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