Sarah Mayland

Positive Thinking

In Miscellaneous on 08/30/2010 at 23:52

Are you guys stressed out?  I’m stressed out!  Why are we stressed out?  Maybe we have a lot going on — too much to do today.  Maybe we are going through a time of transition (those are always rough!).  Maybe we are too hard on ourselves…we should have worked out today, not have eaten that cheeseburger, not have pissed off our significant others…the list goes on.  Now you know as well as I do that getting stressed is normal…but with the darker months of fall and winter looming ahead, that “normal” stress can turn into “overwhelming” stress very quickly.   But I’m already getting prepared…

I started a new “positive thinking” program for myself.  Here’s how it works:

First, you need to make a list of goals.  I divided my list into three categories: things I want to change about my appearance, personal/career goals, and things I want to change ab0ut my personality.   This list contains both long-term and short-term goals.  (I think it’s really important to make some short-term goals because it’s a small thing to accomplish that makes me feel good when I’m finished.)  Here are some of my goals:

  1. lose 20 lbs by the end of the year
  2. grow my nails out (i’ve been a chronic nail-biter)
  3. get married (I already know this is happening soon, so I’m excited about crossing this one off)
  4. get my Master’s degree by the time I’m 30
  5. get angry less often
  6. develop my religion and my faith

These are just some of my goals…I have a lot more.  But the next thing you have to do is write down steps that you must take to accomplish them.  For example, to accomplish goal #1, I might write down that I will join the gym, lower my carb and fat intake, and eat more protein and fresh produce.   Goals are useless if you don’t consider how you are going to meet them.

The next thing I did was I wrote myself a collection of poems, quotes, words, etc. that would serve to cheer me up or help me snap out of any depressed or other “bad-feeling” mental state that I’m in.  Make sure these things will change your bad mood, not exemplify it.   So many people quote depressing sayings or song lyrics because they can relate to them at the moment, but those aren’t helpful.  They will just keep you in the state you’re in.  Instead, look for things that send a postive message that is the opposite of the negative feelings.

The  next part is the most important.  This part is where I get into the habit of thinking positively every single night.  To do this I ask myself six questions:

1.  What have I done for my body?
It’s hard to be happy on the inside if we physically feel like crap.  It’s also motivating to know that you have to answer to yourself at the end of the day.  Do something small every day so that you can give yourself a good report.  Maybe have a healthy breakfast.  Maybe have an apple as a snack instead of some chips.  Maybe do some mall-walking.  Anything small counts.  Try to make it a habit to do something small every day.

2.  What have I done for my mind?
This is a pretty vague question, but I like it because it’s easy to answer.  Anything that you do today that makes you feel good counts.  I account for mental benefit when I do something that facilitates positive thinking.  Maybe I finished a project today.  Maybe I learned something new.  Maybe I spent quality time with my family and that made me feel good.  Get the idea?

3.  What have I done for my future?
Look at your long-term goals.  What have you done to work towards those today?  One of my goals is to get my Master’s by the time I’m 30.  Today I went to class.  Anything small counts.  It feels good to be working towards your goals every day, even when it’s only small steps at a time.

4.  What have I done for others today?
This is really important.  I didn’t realize how important this was until I tried doing at least one act of kindness every day for someone.  It can be something small like giving a compliment, or something large like donating to a charity.   I think it’s a universal truth that you reap what you sow, and when you do good for others, the results are almost immediate.  (I know it makes me feel good right away.)

5.  What are my faults for today?
OOOh CURVEBALL.  So far, everything we’ve been focusing on has been positive.  But we have to take time and focus on where we went wrong.  Maybe today I got angry with a customer, or I didn’t pray when I was supposed to, or I ate too much pie.  Honestly evaluate yourself, but don’t dwell on it.  Realize what you need to fix and move on to number six! (hey, that rhymes!)

6.  How can I be better tomorrow?
See, this is a positive thinking sandwich.  ALWAYS END ON A POSITIVE NOTE.  Remember those faults from question #5?  Tomorrow is the time to fix them.  Write down what you will do to make tomorrow a better day than the one you had.

I’m certainly not a mental health professional, and I’m not going to say that this will fix your problems or it’s some miracle process that will relieve all your stess and keep you from getting depressed, but this is a process I came up with for myself, and it’s really made a difference in my whole attitude and outlook, and I hope it will do the same for you if you give it a try.

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