Wednesday, Apr 26th

Reflect On Social Connections

There’s a brief description of this exercise here.

Some days are just more social than others, and this was one of them. That made this exercise easier and more satisfying than it sometimes is, when I need to fall back on a conversation I had with a two-year-old.

My three social connections for today:

  • A conversation with my best friend, whose business partnership is breaking up, about what he’ll be doing next.
  • Some quiet minutes before bedtime with my two sons, treading the line between snuggling and playing.
  • A discussion with a colleague about a video project, and the interplay of an interview and the images he’d chosen to go with it.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, Apr 25th

Loving Kindness Meditation

There’s a brief description of this exercise here.

It’s always dangerous to assume that I’ll get to an exercise “later.” My brain believes, chronically, in the idea of little bits of free time scattered throughout my day. Occasionally such bits actually materialize, which just encourages the delusion that they’re common.

In any case, I ended up doing this meditation while sitting in my parked car, waiting to take my sons home from school. This was not an ideal setting — I can’t pretend that my focus was as good as if I’d been sitting in a quiet room. But to my surprise it also wasn’t the worst setting, and it put me in an excellent mood for greeting my sons and driving home.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, Apr 24th

Gratitude Journal

There’s a brief description of this exercise here.

In an excellent mood today, I found it difficult to narrow in on a single thing I wanted to journal about. This is typical of me when I’m in a very good mood — my brain likes to jump around from one thing to another. For a few minutes I debated between one or another topic, trying to get my mind to settle down, and then I remembered a useful life rule: Choose your battles.

So today, instead of selecting a single thing I’m grateful for and trying to dig deep into it, I let myself write a long, rambling list of things, in exactly as much detail as I liked. The structure of these exercises is after all not the point; the point is the focus on positivity, and whatever gets me there is just fine.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, Apr 22nd

Repeat And Recharge

After some debate, I chose this week to repeat the Take A Vacation exercise. I still find it really challenging, and at this point that’s beginning to irk me. For today’s mini-vacation, I chose to put on a twenty-minute track of music that I like and dove into a project. The timed nature of the music helped me tell myself that I would not worry about anything else I had to do until it was over; I would just enjoy my project. It mostly worked. I think I could still use more practice.

It was only after I’d settled on my repeat exercise that I realized it was essentially the same as recharging. So to mix things up a little, I took advantage of another nice day and invited the kids out for a walk again. We ended up rambling around the neighborhood until we landed at the nearby park for a while. And again, I practiced not worrying about needing to be anywhere else.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, Apr 21st

Go Outside

I lucked out today: most of the day is expected to be free of rain. Even better, the packets of seeds I ordered for my garden arrived a few days ago.

I am aware of a possible difficulty, though. Being outside is good; being outside with other people is even better; working in the garden is (for me) better still. But working in the garden with other people is also potentially problematic — if those other people are younger than four years old.

I know this from experience.

I’ve fairly often gotten myself in trouble by not planning ahead to manage activities, and then feeling stymied when children end up being more involved than is convenient. Today I’ll try to be intelligent about our outdoor activities. A nice long after-dinner walk might be good for everyone, and still leave time afterward for me to slip out to the garden while my two-year-old is distracted.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, Apr 20th

Affirmations

I have been extremely dubious about the idea of affirmations. I am not, as a rule, much interested in mysticism, and I think that I’ve generally seen affirmations discussed in mystical terms. So although I’ve recognized that affirmations don’t need to be associated with mysticism (there are perfectly mundane reasons why cultivating positive self-talk can positively impact one’s life), I’ve still shied away from them.

But recently I had an experience that has me looking at them again. I’d watched a TED talk in which the speaker mentioned the concept of someone liking their life. Shortly afterward, when I felt myself beginning to react with annoyance to something in my life, I suddenly told myself “I like this life.”

It wasn’t premeditated, but the effect was immediate and powerful. It was as though my brain stopped working on its previous project (Reasons To Be Annoyed) and switched over to the new project I’d just given it (Reasons I Like My Life). The mere act of consciously thinking those words generated a feeling, almost immediately, that I did like my life, just the way it was.

So today I’m starting an experiment: I’ll identify a few (not more than three) statements that might help move my thoughts in a more positive direction, and decide how I intend to use those statements.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, Apr 19th

Three Good Things

There’s a brief description of this exercise here.

Most of my family (including me) has been fighting through a long, dragging cold for the past few days, so when I woke up and remembered my exercise for today, it served as an excellent reminder: look for the good. Even when I’m tired and cranky.

Today’s three good things:

  • At a council meeting for a non-profit I’m part of, I got to see the finished product of a video project I’ve been collaborating on, which was very exciting.
  • I shared a special lunch and errand with my two-year-old.
  • I found the first little seedlings of the year in my garden!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, Apr 18th

Guided Meditation

This time around I chose a relaxation meditation from YouTube to try. More relaxation is always a good thing, right?

This one did not go quite as smoothly as some of the other guided meditations I’ve tried. I’m not certain how much to blame that on my own state — I’ve had a cold, and the physical discomfort in my body has been noticeably disrupting my daily meditations. For whatever reason, I found it all too easy for my mind to wander away from the sound of the waves that was supposed to be captivating my attention. I also felt that the meditation included just a touch of hypnosis, and I must admit that I’m pretty skeptical of that.

Still, I came out of it feeling more relaxed than when I went it. And there’s a great big world of meditation to explore — I can’t expect to love them all.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, Apr 17th

Take A Vacation

The key to this exercise seems to be turning off the must-get-things-done part of my brain, which is undoubtedly why it’s so hard. There was a time in my life when I did that routinely, but like so many things, it seems to have slipped away over the years without my noticing.

Fortunately I have three teachers in my house. My children never suffer from the need to be productive, and although that drives me crazy sometimes, I also recognize how precious it is.

Unable to think of any other way to take a vacation, I eventually settled on lying down with my two-year-old when she took her nap. Giving myself permission to just lie there and doze was wonderful; and I found that my mind began to wander in fun, creative directions.

Happy Monday!