There’s a brief description of this exercise here.
I have days where I think I might be getting better at this. Not amazingly better, mind you, because I still catch my mind wandering off on tangents or trying to tell itself stories. But I think regularly practicing this meditation (and I’ve been doing it for almost two months now, a new record for me) has actually improved my ability to identify thoughts coming up without sinking into them.
Today I’m looking to boost my mood with inspiring stories or ideas. One of my favorite places to go for this is The Daily Good, which is conveniently dedicated to this very concept.
I’ve also found that I can sometimes get stories from other people. If I feel open enough with someone, it’s possible to introduce into the conversation a request like “I need some good news to counter-balance all the bad news I’ve heard lately. What’s a happy story you’ve heard recently?” This has the added advantage of involving connection as well.
Today my favorite inspiration was this video from Denmark.
Reflect On Social Connections
There’s a description of this exercise on the Exercise page.
I think I need to rotate when these exercises occur, since which people I see tends to be somewhat day-dependent. For today, one of my longest social connections was with a two-year-old, and I have to wonder whether that even counts. But I decided to include it anyway. The contrast between my interaction with my daughter and my viola instructor was interesting and amusing.
Today’s happiness quote is lifted from The Fresh Quotes:
“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”
William E. Gladstone
Today’s TED talk is by Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work.
Repeat and Recharge
I enjoyed yesterday’s Gratitude Journal exercise so much that I really wanted to do it again. This time I chose to focus on one of my children – the one I’ve had the most conflict with recently.
To recharge, I tried to set up something with a friend, but the timing didn’t work out. I flailed about a bit with ideas, but in the end I didn’t plan anything special. This recharging business is turning out to be harder than I’d thought. What I really want to do, nearly every time, is to take some time to myself to focus on my own projects… But I find myself struggling to make that request, since it impacts other people. Something to work on…
Today for my gratitude journal I decided to focus on a friend, which gave me the double boost of thinking about gratitude and thinking about social connection. I wrote down five specific things that I’m grateful for in that friendship – some ongoing characteristics, and some past instances of kindness or understanding. This was a wonderful exercise for me; I carried the warmth of it for hours.
There is a description of this meditation on the Exercises page. One note: I find that if I’m feeling more “closed” or unhappy, I do better to focus on just the easiest part of the meditation – whichever target is the easiest for me to generate genuine warm and loving feelings. Those feelings are the important benefit, rather than being able to work all the way through the list. There will be other days when it’s easier, when it feels natural to extend this sense of loving-kindness to the entire world.
Pay Attention To Kindness
Today was a day to notice and appreciate kindness. This was made more challenging by the fact that I was under-slept (a happiness no-no, but sometime it seems unavoidable). There was still plenty of kindness going around – I just have the feeling that I missed some of it.
Some things I did notice:
- A friend giving her colleague a few minutes of extra time when he needed it.
- My son helping his little sister get syrup for her waffle.
- Me helping that same son clean up an accidental smoothie spill.
Today is another day for soaking up outdoor spaces. Last night I had the good intention of getting up extra early and taking a morning walk, but instead I stayed up extra late thanks to a combination of having guests and wrangling kids. So I plan to take a more urban walk around lunchtime today.
Initially I was disappointed – I’m not particularly fond of urban spaces – but I decided it will give me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the nature that is available, even in urban areas.
Three Good Things
Currently I’m planning roughly a three week rotation, with probably a little mixing up as I go along. This means that it’s time for the Three Good Things exercise again. In order to not need to repeat myself, explaining the exercise again every time it comes up, I’m creating a page for common exercises. If you haven’t done Three Good Things before, you can find a description of it here.
My three good things for today:
- Having dinner with new friends last night.
- Talking with my son about how waves work.
- The pleasant (though challenging) mind-expansion of reading something I don’t agree with.