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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

Five years ago, my husband Jake was training for a triathlon. He had just purchased a new road bike and woke up one sunny Saturday morning to take it out for its first spin.

As we were lying in bed, he looked at me and said, “I don’t have a good feeling about this; I hope something doesn’t happen.”

I suggested if he had a bad feeling, maybe he shouldn’t go. He thought for a moment, his logical mind kicked in, and he replied, ”Of course I should go, it’s fine. I need to train. It will be okay.”

Fast forward two hours later when I got a call from an unknown number. I answered with trepidation, knowing exactly what this call was going to be. A man told he had just found my husband in the middle of the road. He had an accident and the ambulance was on its way. He would stay with him until it was there.

Turns out, he was lucky to have just broken his femur and hip. Jake knew that morning that something wasn’t right. But instead of trusting his intuition and listening to that inner voice, he went anyway. It happens to all of us.

You often hear people say, “Go with your gut”, “Trust your instincts”, “Follow your intuition” and “Listen to your inner voice.” That all sounds great, right? If only it were that easy.

With all the external noise and internal conflict, how do we listen to our inner wisdom?

When you can tune in to that inner voice, you can make better and faster decisions, solve problems with greater ease, and live a more fulfilled and happy life.

But HOW?

I’ve worked with thousands of people over the course of my career and have learned that while this inner voice shows up in a variety of ways for each of us, we ALL have it.

In this article, I’ll outline some tips and strategies for how to identify and listen to your own inner voice. If you can find that voice and truly listen, it can save you a lot of time, energy, angst….and perhaps even a broken hip along the way.

I understand this might be easier for some than others. But regardless of who you are and how you’re wired, I just know, in my gut something will work for you.

What Is Your Inner Voice?

Call it Gut. Knowing. Insight. Soul. Innate Wisdom. That’s the voice we’re looking for.

The dictionary defines intuition as, “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

It’s a hunch. A feeling. An inkling. A sense.

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In Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, he explores the inner processes of intuition and instinct, examining how we make snap decisions and judgments. He has numerous examples of people having a hunch, feeling or intuition and how, while there was no hard evidence to back them up at first, science and data eventually backed up what they knew to be true.

Did you know that 95% of our brain activity happens at an unconscious level? Studies from numerous cognitive neuroscientists show that only 5% of our cognitive activity (decisions, emotions, actions, behavior) comes from our conscious mind.

We are taking in information through all our senses all the time – and processing it at an incredible speed. So that intuition, hunch, inkling, sense, voice, is coming from masses of information we can’t even cognitively or consciously process.

Then there’s cognition. “The mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

This is more about understanding. Problem solving. Discernment. Organizing.

This is the logical, thinking part of your mind. Weighing pros and cons; coming to rational conclusions based on data or other factors. These are the voices of reason which often try to override your instincts.

What If You Don’t Hear Any Voice?

Your inner guidance and wisdom aren’t always a voice in your head. Often, it’s a feeling, a sensation, image, energy or emotion. You might notice it your body. There’s no one best or way to experience your inner voice. The important thing is to identify when and where you feel it.

Is it a feeling in your gut? This is true for many of my clients and for me, personally. You may have heard the gut being called our “second brain.” This is because of the enteric nervous system (ENS). It can operate independently of the brain and spinal cord, and the central nervous system. We really can think with our gut![1]

Celebrity therapist and pioneering hypnotherapy trainer Marisa Peer has this to say: “The stomach is the seat of all emotions and your feelings are the most real thing you have; so the trick is to listen to your feelings. If something feels wrong, your inner voice is saying it is not right for you. If you get the horrible lurch in your stomach, your inner voice is telling you ‘this is wrong’.”

Perhaps it’s in your heart. When I asked a Jessie Gardner of HeySoul.com, a friend and colleague known for her acute sense of self-awareness where her inner voice resides, she said, “My heart for sure. Always my heart.” That’s no surprise, our hearts are very intelligent organs.[2]

“Most people don’t know this, but the heart can feel, think and decide for itself. It has around 40,000 neurons and whole network of neurotransmitters with very specific functions, which make it a perfect extension of the brain. It’s automatic, almost instinctive, as if a mysterious, primal voice were telling us that the center of our true being, our conscience, is located right there.”

Maybe the voice is in your head?

When I talked to my Dad about his inner voice, he balked at the idea of feeling it in his gut or heart. Instead, he shared about the voice that comes from the back of his head that talks to him not with him.

Try this: Look, Listen, Feel.

We experience inner wisdom in different ways. Maybe you relate to one of my examples? Maybe you “see” a picture, vision or image that comes up in your head. Perhaps you feel sensations in your body – energy, emotions or feelings. As we go through examples of how to listen, pay attention to how and where yours shows up.

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Why Don’t We Listen to Our Inner Voice?

If this inner voice is so powerful and effective, why don’t we listen?

Logic or Reason Takes Over

We often have a feeling or a sense of something, just like my husband did, but very quickly, our logical mind kicks in to try to understand and comprehend what we feel. This especially happens when we don’t have data or information to back up our hunch or inner voice. We, and of course, others believe it’s not valid if we can’t justify or explain ourselves. So we push our instincts aside.

A recent client told me about how he ignored his inner voice not long ago. He dropped off his 16-year-old daughter at the mall. As she got out of the car, he thought, “I should tell her to make good choices.” But, because her friends were in the car and he didn’t want to embarrass her, he decided not to. His logic, reason and social graces took over. A few hours later he got a call from the mall police. His daughter had stolen a ring. “I knew I should have told her to make good choices.”

We often override our instincts with logic, reason, desire, and, in this case, societal pressure or social graces. But we don’t have to.

We Don’t like the Answer

Sometimes we know what we need to do, but don’t like the answer. This happens with clients all the time when I ask what they sense they should do. They answer, but then reply, “But I don’t want to do that!”

Once, a client told me the story of her wedding, and a knowing that she simply ignored. As she walked down the aisle, she knew that she should not marry the man standing in front of her. Truthfully, she knew long before that day. But she didn’t want to hurt his feelings, call off the wedding, let friends and family down. So, she went through with it. Inevitably, that marriage ended in divorce – and this story is all too common.

We Don’t Know How to Distinguish, Hear or Listen to It

That’s what the following strategies are for! Let’s dive in.

How to Tune into Your Inner Voice

Here are 9 different ways to tune into your innate wisdom and inner voice:

1. Find Quiet

“Be still. The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass

There are lots of ways to find quiet in the busyness of life. Turn off the phone, shut off the TV. Get some time and space to yourself.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you? Yes, I’m going to recommend you meditate. I know meditation seems to have become the panacea for everything that ails you, and there a good reason for that: it works. It’s one of the fastest, easiest and most effective ways to tap into your inner voice. Meditation aides us to connecting with our true self. Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati said “If you quiet the mind, the soul will speak.” I completely agree.

Another great way to find quiet is to be in nature. Why? Because there’s a connection. It’s grounding. You’re able to tap into the “oneness” of everything. This can shift things energetically. Want the double whammy? Meditate in nature.

You might find your quiet in nature, meditation, yoga, exercise, prayer. Whatever it is, find your quiet.

    2. Push Pause

    Most of us are running a hundred miles an hour in every direction. It’s hard to hear anything at that pace. Have you ever been driving down the freeway with the windows down, listening to music, when the person next to you starts talking. Can you hear them? Of course not. It’s too loud. There’s too much going on. You need to roll up the windows, press pause on the music and stop.

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    Our inner voice is speaking to us all the time, but sometimes it’s just too loud or we’re too busy to hear it. Pressing “pause” allows to tap into our innate wisdom.

    When I was studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Mike Bundrant at the iNLP Center gave me a fantastic tool that I share with almost every client. It’s called the AHA Solution.[3] It’s often used to identify patterns of self-sabotage, but in this case, we can use it to listen to our inner voice.

    Next time you have a feeling, a sense, a hunch or intuition, follow this protocol.

    A. Aware: Be aware of what you are feeling. Pay attention and notice.

    H. Halt: This is the pause button. Think about the ways you can respond to what you’re hearing or noticing. You could listen to your inner voice, ask more questions and seek to hear it further. Or, you could choose to ignore it completely and let your cognitive mind take over and convince you it’s okay.

    A. Act: Now that you have options, decide which action you will take.

    3. Invite Your Inner Wisdom to Show Up

    If you want someone to come to your house, you’ve got to invite them over, right? Try taking this approach with your inner voice. While it’s always running in the background, it may have taken a backseat because it can’t seem to get through all the noise. It’s going to speak up more often when it knows you’re open and listening. Take a moment now and invite your inner wisdom to show up. Let it know you are ready and willing to listen. Wait to see what happens.

    4. Ask Your Body

    I love this one; our bodies are so dang smart. They will tell us if we ask and listen. But too often we have disconnected from sensations in our body to push through in the interest of productivity.

    A few months back I was working with a client who came to our appointment with a massive headache. She stopped midway through our session and asked if I would mind if she went and took a couple Advil. Of course I said it was no problem, but asked if she was interested to understand the cause of her headache first. She nodded.

    I had her close her eyes, take a couple deep breaths and ask her head, “What do you need from me right now?” The answer? “I need rest.” She burst into tears. She was exhausted but felt she couldn’t stop. She was leaving for a trip in a couple days, had her son’s birthday coming up and felt completely swamped. However, when she asked the question, her inner wisdom knew what she needed.

    Try this at home. Next time you get something that’s bothering you physically, stop and be still for a moment. Ask that part: What do you need from me? What’s this about? Or What’s going on? And then wait and listen for an answer. This might sound a little out there, but trust me, it works.

    5. Put It in Your ‘Slow Cooker’

    When my Dad has a big problem he’s trying to solve or an important decision to make, he thinks about it before bed. I realize this might go against all advice regarding thinking about stressful things before bed, but that’s just the thing. He isn’t thinking about it or trying to solve it. He just puts the problem in the back of his mind for the night.

    In the shower the next morning, solutions start bubbling up. These are usually spoken to him as if someone is talking to him. “What about this? Why don’t you do this?” It’s usually a very simple answer he hadn’t yet considered. And his response back to himself is frequently, “Why didn’t I think of that?” But he did!

    This goes back to the 95% unconscious part that’s running in the background. When he stops thinking, his mind stops racing and puts the problem in the back of his mind, the unconscious part of him comes up with all sorts of great solutions. A colleague of mine used to refer to this as putting things in her ‘slow cooker’.

    6. Flip a Coin

    Have you ever flipped a coin, only to decide to do the exact opposite of what the coin said? Flipping a coin instigates our instinctive response because it gives us something to react to. When writing this article, My 7-year-old daughter was sitting at dinner one night, deciding who she wanted to put her to bed. She started doing the game, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.” Each time she finished, she landed on my husband. So, she went again. And again. Until six attempts later when she landed on me and replied, “I choose Mummy!” When a decision is taken out of our hands and happens to us, it gives us something to react to.

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    Try this with a decision you’re trying to make. Flip a coin. Are you happy and ready to go with that answer? Or do you want to go against the decision and try again? Well then, you already know what you want, don’t you?

    7. Eat the Decision

    I just had to include this one. I know it might sound a bit odd, but bear with me. Years ago, I read about a CEO who made all his big decisions this way. Let’s say he was considering acquiring another company. He would sit down and imagine he was eating that decision. Then he would stop and wait and see how he felt. Did he feel energized and alive or sick to his stomach? I love this idea and have tried it myself. It allows you to get out of your head and go into your body to make the decision. This might not be for everyone, but maybe it’s for you!

    8. Take a Step

    Sometimes you don’t know until you’re “in it.” When you’re faced with two choices, make the best choice with the information you have and what you feel is best, and then start moving. You’ll know if that choice is really right for you as you’ll feel good as you move forward. You’ll know it’s wrong if you continue to feel heaviness or resistance. The more you move forward the clearer the signal will become.

    9. Get Some Help

    Whether it be a best friend (who knows how to listen and ask the right questions), a coach or therapist. Having scheduled time to tune in and having someone ask the right questions allows you tap in to what you already know. You already have the answers within you, sometimes you just need a little help to uncover them.

    Moving on with Your Inner Voice

    Like with anything in life, practice makes permanent. It takes time to grow and nurture your inner voice, especially if you’ve ignored it or pushed it to the side for some time now. The more you listen and hone your skills, the better and faster you will become at hearing and listening to your intuition, your gut, your innate wisdom.

    Play with the strategies above and see what works. Better yet, as you read through the ideas, identify which ones you felt or sensed would be good to try. Try those first.

    Practice on small things first, like what you want to eat, what to wear or whether you want to attend that party Saturday night. You don’t have to start with major life decisions, whether you should buy that house or if you should take that job.

    Then:

    • Notice when and where your feel your inner wisdom.
    • Notice when you feel a pull, have a hunch or instinct about something.
    • Notice when you have that sense and your mind tries to override it.
    • Notice when you start talking yourself out of something or start talking yourself into something.

    Need more evidence that this will work for you?

    Think about a time in your life when you recognized and listened to the inner voice – what was the outcome? Now, think about a time when you heard that voice, but for some reason, ignored it or pushed it aside. What was the outcome then? You, know, that time when you felt like you shouldn’t do something, but did anyway? Or had a bad feeling but kept moving forward?

    Final Thoughts

    Pay attention. Next time you have a bad feeling, a sense that something isn’t right, an inkling or a pit in your stomach, pay attention.

    Following your inner voice will lead you to the truth of what’s best for you. Tuning into your innate wisdom will help you make better and faster life decisions, solve problems with greater ease, and live a life of greater happiness, success and fulfillment.

    In the words of Madeleine L’Engle, “Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”

      More About Self-Understanding

      Featured photo credit: hiva sharifi via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Scientific American: Gut Feelings
      [2] Exploring Your Mind: The Heart Has Neurons Too
      [3] Mike Bundrant: The A-H-A Solution

      More by this author

      Tracy Kennedy

      Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

      Why New Year Resolutions Fail And How to Set Yourself up for Success 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck 9 Simple Steps to Set Goals in Life to Achieve Success How to Build Self Discipline to Excel in Life

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      Last Updated on January 13, 2020

      How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

      How to Use the 5 Minute Journal to Invest in Your Happiness

      I was 10 and it was a white Lisa Frank journal with a red bubble gum dispenser on the front. It also came with a heart-shaped lock and key which was a must considering I had an older brother living under the same roof who was always looking for new and inventive ways to humiliate me.

      That one little journal (okay…I called it a diary back then) unlocked a world of potential to me which quite literally became my saving grace, my happy place, for the rest of my life.

      Over the years, the aesthetics of my journal evolved, as did my writing subjects and style thankfully. But the one thing that’s been constant is that, no matter how sad I am or how bad things have seemed before I started writing, somehow the world and my place in it always becomes clearer and less noisy after just 5 minutes of “writing it out.”

      In this article, we will take a look at how investing a few minutes a day in the 5 minute journal can lead you to happiness.

      The Benefits of the 5 Minute Journal

      For most of my life, I never really knew or cared why writing for even 5 minutes made me happier, I just knew it worked.

      If I was feeling lost or unhappy, I’d eventually realize I hadn’t written in a while (duh!). So I’d meet myself back at the blank page and word by word, start feeling more like me again.

      To be completely honest, I did (and still do) this forgetting-to-journal dance way more often than I’d like to admit. For the life of me, I don’t know why I don’t keep doing the thing I know makes me happy every day instead of waiting until I’m unhappy to do the thing. Can you relate?

      I’m pretty certain it’s not just a me thing: it’s a human thing. We know we’ll be happier if we eat better, exercise, disconnect from technology, get more sleep, etc. but often times, it takes us feeling unhappy in order to put in the effort to be more happy.

      A couple of months ago, I found myself in that place:

      I’d hit a wall of resistance around my business and a downturn in my health that caused me to doubt what I was capable of accomplishing. I was completely confused and indecisive about the direction of my business and where I should be focusing my limited energy, so I hired a coach to help me sort through my noisy brain.

      As I laid out all of my decisions and endless to-do lists in front of her, she asked me an important question:

      What’s one thing you can start doing everyday that will have a positive impact on all of these things?

      In other words: What if instead of having to worry about ALL THE THINGS to be happier, you could just do ONE thing and everything else would get better too?

      I could start every day with a few minutes in my journal.

      It’s both hilarious and embarrassing that as a coach and a writer (and a coach who works with writers), that I hadn’t thought of this myself. Alas, as the saying goes, doctors are the worst patients.

      Of course, the answer was writing in my journal! Isn’t the answer almost always the most obvious thing?

      But sometimes, the answer is so obvious, so simple, so free and convenient that we convince ourselves that it can’t possibly do that much to improve our situation. Somehow in the busy-ness of life, I’d convinced myself I just couldn’t spare that time to do something so…(cringe) arbitrary.

      Yet, as I thought about my coach’s question and the ONE THING that could positively affect all the things, I realized that journaling for me has always been so much more than a random outlet for exploring my feelings.

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      Sure, nothing actually happened but me sitting on my bed in my pajamas writing. Over the years, from breakups to big moves, my most life-changing moments–like my decision to pursue writing as a career, to uproot my entire life and move cross country, and my finally feeling ready to become a mother–happened in the quiet moments between me and the pages of my journals.

      How to Be Happy with the 5 Minute Journal

      The other day I was talking to a friend of mine about writing this article. I asked her how often she journals and if she thought it made her happier.

      In general, she said, yes, journaling does seem to help her get things off her chest but she doesn’t always feel better afterward. And, in fact, sometimes if she’s already in a negative place, she can spiral even worse while journaling and go to an even darker place.

      She told me that usually with time and perspective, she can see that just the act of writing and getting out of her head is therapeutic but, suggested that for people like her, prompts to help her not spiral into the negative abyss would be super helpful.

      And so, in order to make sure you get the most out of your 5 minute journal, I’ve broken up each writing prompt based on how you’re feeling so you can let your emotions guide the best prompt for you that day to increase your happiness meter.

      1. When you’re burnt out, talk to your inner hero (a.k.a the “real” you).

      What’s the one thing everyone tells you about maintaining happy, healthy relationships?

      You’ve gotta have great communication!

      But what about your relationship with yourself? How do you connect with you? How do you continue being the hero in your story?

      The same way that you have to make the time to connect with the people in your life who mean the most to you, you also have to make the time for you to hear your voice:

      To remember what YOU sound like amidst all of the noise in the world. To listen to your inner hero.

      For me, the only way I know how to do this, the only way I’ve ever known how to do this, is through journaling.

      Our brains can go down negative spirals, especially when we’re tired and stressed.

      In my last Lifehack article about finding motivation, I walk you through some questions you can ask yourself about whether you’re playing the role of victim or hero of your story. Definitely check it out if you’re really on the brink, or in the midst, of some serious burn out.

      Essentially, if you’re burnt out, you’ve somehow let your circumstances take control of your life. In other words, you’ve started to act like the victim instead of the hero.

      Luckily, just 5 minutes in your journal can help you find your inner hero (your true voice) and reclaim your right to live your happiest life.

      Write down these questions in your journal and answer them one at a time–permission to be 100% honest granted:

      • What do I believe is the #1 reason I’m feeling burnt out?
      • Who or what did I blame in my last answer?
      • Taking 100% responsibility for my own life and decisions, and casting blame on no one (including myself), how can I improve this situation?
      • What decisions am I currently making to stay in these circumstances (how am I choosing them)?
      • What new decisions can I start making to get closer to where I want to be?
      • What do I need to let go of in order to get my energy back? What do I need to say “no” to?

      When you start to own your role of hero, you start to realize how your current choices and limiting beliefs may be holding you back from living the happiest version of your life.

      The great news is once you realize your past choices have brought you to your current circumstances, you also realize that you can make different choices to bring you to a happier place.

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      2. When you’re doubting yourself, write off the gremlins.

      Whenever I’m feeling down on myself, it usually has less to do with what’s happening on the outside, and more to do of what’s happening between my ears. In other words, how “I’m” talking to myself.

      We all have little shame gremlins (I call mine “Mean Girls”) who live inside of our heads and tell us we’re dumb and ugly and worthless. The only way to combat those noisy buggers is to expose them for the liars they are.

      Writing down these lies makes them powerless. Once they’re out of your head and on paper, you realize how ridiculous they truly are (even though they were completely owning you just moments before).

      I like to write out all the nasties and put them in their place (which is on the page and out of my head, pronto). Then I can go back to living my happy truth.

      Here are some powerful questions to ask your inner gremlins (perhaps better known as you being a real jerk to yourself). Write down each question and answer them in your journal.

      Ask your gremlins:

      • What are you saying about me? (Don’t hold back. Really write down all of the terrible thoughts you’re having about yourself)

      Then ask:

      • Is anything true about each of the things I just wrote?
      • Repeat this same exercise for each of the nasty things your gremlins are saying about you and expose them in their lies once and for all.

      When you’re done, answer these powerful questions:

      • Knowing what I know now, what’s one thing I can do to improve each of these areas of my life?
      • Knowing that the voices of the gremlins are strong, what are 3 new beliefs or positive affirmations I can say daily about myself to drown out their negativity?

      For example, let’s use a fictional character of a guy named Sam. Sam’s gremlins are telling him “you’re a lousy parent, a terrible spouse, and mediocre at work.”

      If Sam asks himself, “Am I really a lousy parent?” Maybe his answer is “No, I love my kids and I’m doing the best I can. I just wish I could be more attentive when I’m with them instead of so distracted by work.”

      So maybe Sam decides to not bring his work computer home with him anymore and really unplug once he leaves the office so he can give his kids his full attention.

      Sam decides that his new daily affirmation is: “I’m a loving father and am fully present for my kids. I save the best of me for my family.”

      Imagine how much better you’ll feel when you start to take back control over your self talk and program in the messages that empower you and get you closer to the person you strive to be.

      3. When you’re indecisive or afraid, talk to your fear.

      Those same shame gremlins or mean girls inside of our heads feed off of fear. It’s like a good piece of gossip they can’t help but spread and exaggerate.

      Luckily, when we write out how we’re feeling and what negative thoughts are spiraling, we can generally recognize when it’s actually just our fears talking.

      You’re probably wondering how to tell if it’s fear talking or your intuition, right? This is where exploring your feelings comes into play.

      Are you feeling powerless? Are you feeling anxious or sad? Everyone’s response to fear is different but it’s never a positive feeling.

      If you’re at peace and calm but feel nudged that something isn’t right, that’s most-likely your intuition talking. But if you’re in a glass cage of negative emotions, you can bet fear is the culprit.

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      Don’t hate on fear too much though. Our fears are just trying to protect us from something–the rub is they also usually keep us from something even better in the process.

      I like to use journaling as a way to have a little talk with my fear, understand where it’s coming from and then decide if it’s worth listening to.

      Here’s your journaling prompt for hashing it out with your fear:

      Again, write down these questions in your journal one at a time and answer each one:

      Ask your fear:

      • What are you trying to protect me from?

      Once you answer that, ask:

      • What are you preventing me from having if I listen to you?

      If the thing you really want is on the other side of your fear, then you know what you have to do next (luckily journals are a great place to make to-do lists as well)!

      My last and favorite questions to ask fear is:

      • What’s the absolute worst-case scenario?

      For example, let’s say you’re terrified of breaking ties with a client who is making your professional life miserable. You may answer this question with something like “My client blacklists me and smears ugly rumors about me all around town and not only do I lose one client but my entire business goes down.”

      Eeesh. That does sound scary. Now ask yourself:

      • What are some steps I can take to ensure the worst case scenario doesn’t happen?

      And then:

      • How likely is it that the worst-case scenario will actually happen (especially if I use the plan above)?

      Maybe, when you think about it, the client is actually preventing you from bringing in new business because they’re taking up so much of your time.

      And maybe that client doesn’t even have the best reputation so the chances of them being able to bring you down are pretty small.

      What if you spent one hour a week for the next 3 weeks working on bringing in new business to replace the the income you make from that client, and figure out a way to end the contract in a very respectful, classy way to hopefully make the odds of them making a stink minimal?

      Now you have a plan! But there’s one more question to ask yourself:

      • If the worst case scenario happened, what would you do?

      Maybe you realize that if you really needed to, you could always go back to your previous job; they loved you and beg you to all the time. Or you could get by for a couple of months until you were able to bring in some more clients, especially if you cut back on expenses.

      Once you stare your fear in the face, it magically loses its power. Left inside of your head, it can destroy you; but taking a few minutes to look at it and use it as a friend who’s showing you where you may need to implement a plan in order to protect yourself, you can take back the reins of your happiness and realize that fear really isn’t all that scary at all.

      At this point, it needs to be said that journaling isn’t only good for getting out the nasty feelings, it’s also super useful for recording the good stuff of life which leads me to the fourth writing prompt.

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      4. When you’re in a funk, focus on gratitude.

      Just about any happiness book or article you read will tell you that being in a state of gratitude dramatically increases your happiness. For me, having a place to get down to the truth of my life and what’s actually going really well and what I’m grateful for helps put everything into perspective, especially when I’ve got a case of the blues.

      Here are some of my favorite gratitude prompts to help get me out of a funk and focusing on the sunnier side of life.

      Write down these questions in your journal one at a time and answer each one:

      • What is something good that happened today?
      • What made me laugh or smile today?
      • Who am I grateful for today?
      • What am I grateful for today?
      • With my “gratitude glasses” on, how do my problems or the funk I’m in look in relation to all of the good things I have in my life?

      Take a look at this article too to learn more about keeping a gratitude journal: How a Gratitude Journal and Positive Affirmations Can Change Your Life

      Shifting out of a funk and into gratitude shifts your energy out of “woe is me” and into “yay for me” which means, based on the Law of Attraction, you’ll begin to attract more of the things you want and less of what you don’t. Seriously, yay for you!

      5. When you’re uninspired or bored with the status quo, let it flow.

      One of the best and easiest ways to tap into your inspiration and feel a little bit of creative magic in your life is through stream of consciousness writing.

      I dare you to put your pen on a blank page for 5 minutes and do nothing but make sure the pen doesn’t stop moving.

      No thinking. No judgements. The only thing you’re not allowed to do is overthink or judge your writing. It’s all good. Everything that comes out is good (even if it’s total crap).

      When I was in grad school, I took this awesome class on creativity and in it read a book called From Where you Dream by Robert Olen Butler. The book is mostly about fiction writing but essentially, he says that the best time to tap into your subconscious (where your “flow” lives) is when you first wake up in the morning. Since you’re fresh from dreaming, your brain is still tuned to that frequency, so to speak, and not clouded by “reality” from your day-to-day life.

      So my last and final 5-minute journal prompt for you, uninspired one, is to wake up and let yourself keep dreaming on paper.

      Here are your instructions:

      1. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
      2. Open your journal.
      3. Pick up your pen.
      4. Keep your pen moving until your timer stops.

      What I love about this is it requires releasing all expectations and giving yourself creative freedom to let whatever needs to come out come out.

      Become Happier in 5 Minutes (or Even Less)

      Giving yourself a safe space to not expect anything other than to just show up and be honest is incredibly liberating.

      In a world where there are endless things we are supposed to be doing, and ways in which we’re supposed to be doing them, I love showing up to a blank page with no requirements other than to just let my hand move.

      It’s free and requires nothing from me other than just showing up wherever I am–talk about an endless source of grace!

      Plus it gets my myriad thoughts out of my head and allows me to release them from my body, which research at top universities has shown can dramatically reduce stress.[1]

      You don’t need to change EVERYTHING in your life all at once (it doesn’t work anyway, trust me, I’ve tried).

      Start with giving yourself the gift of reflection in your journal every day and see how your life starts to change. I guarantee you’ll feel more connected with yourself in the process and over time everything in your life will start to be a better reflection of you and what you value.

      And that, my friends, is the key to lasting happiness.

      More Journaling Ideas

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Harvard Health Publishing: Writing about emotions may ease stress and trauma

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