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Last Updated on August 1, 2019

9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life

9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life

Do you have a big dream or goal for your life? Wondering how you’re going to get there or what could get in the way? Chances are, it’s your mindset.

There’s one common theme that underpins many theories about living your dream life: your mindset, beliefs and the way you think override everything.

I asked Steph Purpura, Co-founder of Powerful U,[1] what topic she felt was most important in the area of personal development and growth, she instantaneously responded, ‘mindset’.

‘Mindset is how you choose to approach any situation. When you have an open and positive mindset, you are able to see the possibilities in any situation. When you go in with a closed or negative mindset, you are severely limiting your experience to the most negative aspects of any given situation. Positivity opens the realm of possibilities, while negatively closes down.‘

In his TED talk, Happiness Psychologist Shawn Achor shares,

‘It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. Ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality.’

Bottom line: Mindset is everything.

The story we tell ourselves is the story our mind believes. Our perception creates our reality. Our beliefs create our outcome.

Therefore, the quickest way to live the life of your dreams is to shift your mindset. The question then becomes, how? How do you change your underlying beliefs and thought patterns?

Here are 9 mindset shifts to help you live your dream life.

1. Believe in Yourself

From “I’m not enough” to “I am awesome”

So much of what holds people back is the belief they have about themselves. And one of the most common beliefs? Feeling you’re not enough, not worthy, not deserving.

Steph, mentioned above, talks about her biggest mindset shift — learning how to question the lies she had told herself her entire life.

When she was 8 years old, she was sexually abused. She remembers standing in front of the mirror and telling herself how dirty, ugly and awful she was. She blamed herself for what happened and didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until she was an adult. She spent a lifetime telling herself lies about herself and believed them. It wasn’t until she was able to speak her truth that she was able to question the lies and shift her life.

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For whatever reason you feel you’re not enough, know this: You were born enough. You are awesome, worthy and deserving of love, happiness and success. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time. You are not a mistake. There is only one you and people need what you bring to the world.

You are uniquely you. That is your superpower.

You are enough. You may not be able to believe this yet, but some part of you, deep down, knows this to be true.

Make the Shift
  • Seek to understand and silence the inner critic. What are your underlying reasons for not feeling ‘enough?’ Is the inner critic your own voice, or that of a parent or authority figure? What story are you telling yourself that is not true? This might take some deep work including therapy, coaching or counseling, but it’s worth it.
  • Check out Marisa Peers’ book, Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life and this video
  • Read this article full of insights and strategies to help you build your self-esteem.

2. Empower Yourself

From “I don’t have a choice” to “I always have a choice”

How many times have you felt trapped or that you didn’t have a choice?

You may not have control over the circumstances, and life will likely bring many challenges and difficulties, but you always have control over two very important things: your choices and attitude.

My favorite account of this shift is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. In his book, he shares,

‘Everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.‘

If Frankl can choose, when faced with those treacherous and unfathomable circumstances, surely we all can choose ours.

Make the Shift
  • Choose. When you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no choice, identify your options. What choices do you have? You can choose to complain or act. Choose to change or accept your circumstances. Choose to take one step forward or stay stuck. Choose to speak up or stay quiet. Choose to look forward or continue to look back. Choose love or stay in anger and fear. So, what do you choose?
  • Identify what you are in control of. A lot of stress, frustration, fear and anger comes when things are – or feel – out of our control. When you feel out of control, take a step back and identify what you can control. This could be one small item or a shift in your energy or attitude.
  • Read Man’s Search for Meaning.

3. Believe in What Is Possible

From “It is impossible” to “It is possible”

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

If you don’t wholeheartedly believe you can achieve something, it just won’t happen. Therefore, if you want to live your dream life, you first must believe that’s possible.

For many years, everyone believed it was physically impossible to run a 4-minute mile. They said the human body was incapable and your heart would explode.

In the 1940’s, someone ran it in 4:01, a record that stayed for nine years. Then, in May 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the mile in 3:59.4. This didn’t happen solely by sheer hard work, training and passion. It happened because Roger believed that it was possible. He knew he could do it. He trained by visualizing the outcome.

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Less than six weeks later, Australian John Landy ran it in 3:58. Every year following, more people began accomplishing what was once thought impossible. Now, more than 1,400 individuals have run the 4-minute mile.

Once Barrister broke the perception of what people believed was possible, it opened up others’ minds to believe the same thing. When they thought they couldn’t, they couldn’t, and when they believed they could, they did.

The same is true for each of us. That goal, vision or intention you have for your dream life, do you believe it’s possible? If so, you are well on your way to making it happen! However, if there’s doubt or skepticism flooding your mind, the likelihood is low of you achieving your dreams.

Make the Shift
  • Change your language. Shift your thinking from There’s no way to There’s always a way. From It doesn’t work to How can we make this work? When you find yourself finding problems, switch to a solution mindset. Edison is famously quoted, “I learned 10,000 ways not to invent a lightbulb.” He saw each failure as a step closer to his end goal.
  • Visualize the outcome. Our minds believe what we show and tell them; if you can visualize it happening, just like Banister, your mind will believe you. Imagine your dream life as if it’s already real. What do you see, hear or feel? Put yourself in that state of mind.
  • Have a little faith and believe anyway when logic fails.

4. Believe in the Good

From “looking for the bad” to “looking for the good”

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place. – Tony Robbins

Belief in the good comes in a couple forms. The world and people.

Let’s start with the world. Studies on confirmation bias have proven we find what we’re looking for. People tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true. If you’re looking for what is good in the world, you’re going to see that. If you’re looking for what’s wrong, or believe the world is out to get you, guess what you’re going to see?

Instead, what if you believed that everything was happening for your greatest good? Even if it doesn’t seem that way. What if you assumed that everything was working out exactly as it should and that the world/universe/God has your back?

Now, let’s look at people. One of the key principles I use in all of my leadership and team development work is to ‘Assume Positive Intent.’ We often make assumptions and judgments about others based on their behavior, without understanding their underlying motivation. Assuming positive intent requires us to consider another’s intention before we judge that behavior. This might lead you to ask questions or seek to see things from their point of view.

Everyone is dealing with something you have no idea about, and sometimes what seems like an attack or slight against you is simply someone having a rough day, or just a different style than yours. How many fights have you had in your own head with someone who has no idea they even hurt or upset you – only to find out later it was just a miscommunication or misunderstanding?

Make the Shift
  • Replace ‘Why is this happening TO me?’ with ‘Why is this happening FOR me?’ or ‘What is this going to teach me?’ When you look for the good, the lesson or the intention, you will find it.
  • Assume positive intent. Next time someone does something that upsets you or makes you angry, take a step back and assume they had a good intention. What were they trying to achieve? Suspend judgement and seek to understand why they might have done what they did.
  • Change what you’re looking for. It’s time to start looking for those things that support your dream life. Look for the good. Find the positive.

5. Live in the Moment

From “life is a destination” to “life is a journey”

It’s true what they say, life is a journey, not a destination, so we might as well enjoy the ride.

If we are always trying to get ‘there’ (wherever ‘there’) is, we’re missing out on where we are now. The gifts, beauty and the joy that each moment brings. When you stay in the present, you can see opportunities, take advantage of the unexpected, go with the flow and listen to that little voice inside you.

On the flipside, when you are attached to a particular outcome or the way things should be, you can become disappointed about the way things actually are. But they are what they are! If you can take each moment to accept, learn and grow, and not wish things were different, you’ll find greater happiness and fulfillment.

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People often get stuck in the when/then trap. They say, ‘When I meet someone, I’ll be happy?’ or ‘When I get the promotion I’ll be satisfied at work?’ or ‘When I have more money, I’ll make the change.’ You can choose to be happy today. You can find what you need to be satisfied at work. You can make the change without the money.

Make the Shift
  • Be. Here. Now. Being present is powerful, especially when it comes to anxiety and stress. Our minds are often worrying about the past or anticipating the future. Being present helps calm your mind, center your thoughts and bring greater peace. Get present by practicing mindfulness or meditation.
  • Get out of the when/then trap. When you hear yourself saying, ‘when, then’, stop and think about what you can do now. Are you waiting for someone or something to be satisfied or fulfilled? Can you find that now? Decide to be happy with where you are now, with what you have today. You can always choose happiness, joy or gratitude in any moment.

6. Switch Your ‘What Ifs’

From “what’s the worst that can happen” to “what’s the best that can happen”

We spend so much life fearing the inevitable…and how much of what you fear actually comes to light? How much energy do you waste wondering, ‘what if…’, anticipating consequences, complications, risks and what could go wrong?

All those what-ifs are like an app running in the background on your phone. They drain your battery. And since worrying will never change the outcome, why not do something that will?

I see so many people paralyzed by all the what ifs and potential ramifications of their actions. But the people I’ve seen be most successful are those who focus on the possibility, the opportunity, the potential. That doesn’t mean you ignore the risks or potential challenges; it just means you don’t let them stop you from moving forward!

Make the Shift
  • Identify the best that could happen. Identify the positives in any situation. Instead of identifying what could go wrong, identify what could go right. If you’re thinking ‘What if I don’t make the team?’ Switch it to ‘What if I do?’ Instead of wondering, ‘What if I speak up and lose my job?” Consider, ‘What if I speak up and get a promotion for my ideas, honesty and courage?’
  • Remember this. If you’re having a tough time, feeling stuck in a rut, or going through something challenging … it’s all good in the end. If it’s not good, it’s not the end.

7. Be True To Yourself

From “I must fit in succeed” to “I must be myself to succeed”

Do you know what the number one regret of the dying is? A wish to have… “Had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

Throughout our lives, we are taught who we have to be in order to fit in and be successful. But what others need and expect from us isn’t always how we thrive at our best. Often, by trying to fit in, we lose our unique gifts, talents and even our sense of self.

You can’t compare yourself to others. We think we are competing against each other, yet we are all running a different race. Frankly, the only one you really need to compete against is yourself.

True and lasting success comes from authenticity, congruence and becoming the best version of YOU.

Make the Shift
  • Identify and honor on your strengths. Everyone seems to be trying to fix or improve something. We are all flawed. What if you spent as much time using your strengths as you do to fix your weaknesses? That’s what those who are living their dream life do – harness their unique gifts and talents. They know they have faults, but they don’t dwell on them or waste time and energy trying to change themselves. Try this: for the next 30 days, write down 3 things you like and value about yourself. This might be talents, strengths, skills or personality traits. Then figure out how to use those traits more often to build your dream life.
  • Find out who YOU are. It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations of the world. When you are clear about your values, beliefs, passions and what’s important to you, you are more confident and self-assured. Get to know yourself at a deeper level. Self-reflection and self-awareness are the first steps. Identify what your dream life is, not everyone else’s. When you know yourself well, you can stand strong in a world full of competing expectations.
  • Stop comparing yourself. You are running your own race. You are not ahead or behind. You are exactly where you are meant to be. As Teddy Roosevelt said (and my mom emphasized to myself and my twin sister growing up), Comparison is the thief of joy.

8. Where Awareness Goes, Energy Flows

From “watering the weeds” to “watering the flowers”

You’ve all probably heard of the Law of Attraction and how to manifest your best life. So much of that knowledge and wisdom comes from where you put your energy.

Many years ago, I was running a training session for a group of coaches and consultants. At one point, I was feeling insecure and doubting myself. It was stressing me out and more importantly, I wasn’t serving the group best.

During a lunch break, I confided in my co-facilitator about my doubts. He was an experienced trainer and a mentor of mine and shared something with me I have never forgotten.

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‘Tracy, think of your attention like a garden hose. When you are in front of others, and you’re worried about what they’re thinking, your attention is not on them. When you’re thinking about how you sound, if you’re doing a good job, or anytime you’re in your own head, then the hose is pointing inward and you’re watering the weeds. But when you put your energy out, your appreciation on them and you focus on what the group needs, you are turning the hose towards the room…then you’re watering the flowers. So, you have a choice, do you want to water the weeds or the flowers?’

Was that a trick question? Of course I wanted to water the flowers!

Make the Shift
  • The grass is always greener where you water it. Want greener grass in some area of your life? Water it with love, energy and positive attention.
  • Stop watering the weeds. Remember, what you feed gets bigger. Water the flowers you’ll get more flowers. Water the weeds you’ll get more weeds. Feed your goals you’ll reach your goals, feed your fears you’ll get more fear.

9. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

From “what’s missing” to “what you’re grateful for”

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance – Eckhart Tolle

Being grateful is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things you can do to live your dream life.

Studies continue to prove the benefits from expressing gratitude; ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, and sleep to mental stamina, energy and overall happiness.[2] Did you know that it’s physically impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same moment?

The next time you feel you’re lacking in your life, the next time you feel jealous of what others have or unsatisfied with what you have, try switching to gratitude. Acknowledge all the good in the world. Recognize all that you have and that you are grateful for.

Make the Shift
  • Start a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Studies have shown that in just 21 days, your brain will hold on to this pattern and start finding the positive on its own. Being grateful invites even greater abundance into our lives.
  • Set a gratitude alarm on your phone: When it goes off, find something for which you are thankful. You can acknowledge this silently to yourself, or better yet, send a note thanking somebody in your life.

It’s Time To Ask Yourself …

As you read these shifts, what did you notice? Which one(s) resonated with you the most? Which do you believe will help you live your dream life? Which strategies will you try?

Now, take it a step further. Stop scrolling and before you move on to the next thing, ask yourself a few more questions…

  • Consider your dream life. What thoughts, beliefs or mindset shifts do you need in order to create that life?
  • That goal you’ve been trying to achieve: do you believe you can? If not, what would it take to believe it?
  • What assumptions are you making about yourself or others that are getting in your way?

Are You Ready?

If you’re ready to live your dream life, then it’s time to shift your thinking.

Shift your thinking, shift your life.

You decide who you want to become. You decide how you get there. Create the vision you have for yourself and your dream life and go after it. Remove all the barriers in your way, especially those in your mind.

Remember, in order to change your story, you must consistently tell yourself a new story. In order to change, you must be willing to change. In order to shift, you must have an open mind and desire to grow.

‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.’ — Gandhi

Are you ready to live your dream life? Great, let’s get going!

More About Living Your Dream Life

Featured photo credit: Adrianna Van Groningen via unsplash.com

Reference

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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