Coffee before talkie. My choice of coffee mug this morning sums up my preferred way to start my day: with some quiet alone time. As a sensitive introvert, I appreciate the early morning hours when the house is totally quiet. I start my coffee brewing and while I wait, I stroll through my indoor garden, which helps bring my focus into the present, and provides a boost of beauty, appreciation, and gratefulness.
I then sip my coffee while I write in my journal. I reflect on the events of the previous day, as well as my thoughts and feelings relating to those events. I notice what triggered me and left me feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or agitated. If something left me feeling sad or angry, I write it out so I can explore my reactions and understand myself better. Why did the event or situation leave me feeling that way? How did I react?
By cultivating this ongoing practice of focused self-reflection and looking at my own behavior and choices, I've taken my self-awareness journey to a whole new level. Through regular review of my life experiences, it becomes easier to see the lessons I'm meant to learn. I can better see how and when my behavior and choices are out of alignment with my intentions, priorities, and values. We don't always choose what happens around or to us, but we are always in control of how we choose to respond to what happens. Are we choosing a response or path that is authentic to who we really are and that aligns to our values and intentions? Do our choices and behavior strengthen the connection with ourself, *and* our connection with others?
My morning ritual is one of the most important parts of my day and helps me start from a place of groundedness, feeling connected and centered. What contributes to your morning centeredness?
The universe is always sending us signs about our callings and our path. We are being invited to grow beyond our limits and evolve into our highest potential. The messages and clues can show up anywhere. But do we notice them?
I love being surprised by the discovery of hearts where I least expect them. Whenever I find one, such as on this painted rock lying along the sidewalk, it reminds me that my purpose in this life involves learning to truly love. My journey has taken me through some challenging experiences to show me all the ways I have been blocking love from flowing into and through my life.
I'm a sensitive introvert, so I spend a lot of time in my head, telling myself stories about how unlovable I am. I'm also a recovering over-achiever and people pleaser because I believed the only way to receive love was to prove how good I was, and that I deserved it.
Through my life experiences, it's been made very clear to me that I've not been good about loving myself. And because I'm not good about loving myself, I'm also not good at loving others, or accepting love from others. The past few years, I've been learning and practicing the art of self-love.
It's not been easy practice for me. There are a lot of old wounds that have needed to be healed. I have been learning how to forgive myself for all the wrongs I have done. I have been learning self-compassion and how to stop beating myself up for every mistake. I have been learning to make self-care a priority and caring for all aspects of my wellbeing. I have been exploring the old beliefs and stories about my lovability, and I'm still working to rewrite them. None of these lessons have been easy.
But as difficult as it's been, it's been equally rewarding. Because breaking my heart open to expose all the hurt and wounds and brokenness inside has allowed my heart to finally begin the healing process, which is creating space for love to flow in. 💜
January! A month during which I took a pause and worked through some visioning for 2018. I listened to my heart and got clear on what I want to create in my life this year. I set my intentions, clarified my priorities and have been working on defining heart-centered action steps that are aligned to those. I paid attention to the ways in which fear has *still* been holding me back from fully engaging with my life and pursuing my dreams. And I recommitted to investing time, attention, and energy into myself, my passions, and my business.
This month has also been about riding the waves of my emotions, learning not to stuff them down or numb them like I usually do. Instead, I found myself exploring them with curiosity, seeking to understand what was at the core of them and what message they were trying to send me.
I focused on paying better attention to my thoughts about and reactions to the various situations I encountered throughout the month. I noticed when I was swirling in over-thinking, over-analyzing, rumination, worry, assumptions, old stories and other unhelpful mind habits. And then I refocused on seeking truth that was whispering in my heart.
I started engaging out into the community for the first time since moving here nearly two years ago. I made some progress toward some business goals. And when I needed rest, I allowed myself to rest.
In some ways, this was a really difficult month. But, I've found time and again that some really good learning and growth happens in the midst of our challenges. This month was no exception. And for that, I'm grateful.
The character strength of gratitude includes awareness of and thankfulness for the good things in your life, as well as taking the time to express thanks for your blessings. You may feel grateful for your health, your relationships, or good things that happen to you.
In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote that gratitude is many things including wonder, appreciation, seeing the bright side, thanking people and God, counting blessings, savoring, and more. Grateful thinking gives us a happiness boost because it:
One of the most common gratitude practices is documenting your blessings in a gratitude journal. I’ve written about this type of gratitude practice before (which you can read here), and was interviewed about my gratitude experience for another blog post, which you can read here.
But when we are struggling, it can be difficult to see the good things. I was recently searching for the “silver lining” in a challenging situation. Unable to see past the negative aspects of the situation, I only identified five positives (and they were weak ones – I was really stretching). Knowing that I was struggling with this, a wise friend suggested that instead of focusing on the positives about the specific situation or people involved in it, I focus instead on the positives that have happened because of the situation.
In other words, my friend encouraged me to take a more holistic look and consider it from this perspective: “Because of this situation or relationship, I’ve been able to…”
When I returned to my journal with this question in mind, I quickly came up with over 25 positive outcomes – a far cry above the original five. This robust list came easily and everything I documented were real, meaningful outcomes. This simple reframe and the resulting action were instrumental in releasing negative feelings about the situation and supporting me in moving forward in a more positive and productive manner.
How strong is the character strength of gratitude in your life? If your gratitude muscles could benefit from a boost, I invite you to experiment with one or more of these practices:
“People who are consistently grateful [are] relatively happier, more energetic, and more hopeful.”
How do you practice gratitude, and what results do you see from your practice?
Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Group.
Character Strengths and VIA Survey
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press. www.viacharacter.org
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. www.viacharacter.org