My Favorite Bit of Information From The Week:
I’m not a person who journals naturally. But lately, I have been writing down three things I am thankful for/looking forward to in my day. I do this at the start of my morning and it has been helping me a great deal. My therapist has been trying to get me to do this for years, but I’ve always pushed it to the back burner for some reason. I’m not quite sure why. I seem to have an aversion to writing exercises, even though I know from experience they can be immensely helpful.
Why Journaling Exercises Help: In short, it helps rewire the habit of your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative. Our attention is designed to focus more on the negative around us because (traditionally in our past as humans) that is what has kept us alive. But it also has the potential to keep us miserable. It is scientifically proven that it is easier and more natural for the human brain to focus on the negative and stay with the negative, while focusing and staying on the positive takes work. This Ted Talk about how the human brain gets stuck in the negative is fascinating and helps put this in perspective. But studies show that thankfulness can truly help our general mood. My favorite article on the benefits of a thankfulness (or gratitude) practice is from KQED and is entitled “How Writing Down What You’re Thankful For Can Be Good For Mental and Physical Health”. It has a lovely three minute audio breakdown as well (if you are short on time), and lots of delicious resources throughout if you desire more information from scientifically backed articles. If you only have time for one resource this week, this is absolutely my favorite pick.
Some potential benefits are as follows:
- Better metabolism
- Better sleep
- Lowering levels of depression
- Increasing satisfaction with life.
- Increasing happiness
- It can make you feel more grounded.
- Lowers stress
- Improves relationships
- It can lower your risk of heart disease
- Lower anxiety.
Kate’s Thankfulness Practice: The thing that works best for me is to have a blank notebook that is only for thankfulness each morning. I keep it where I meditate, and after I finish my morning meditation I write down my three things and the date. That’s it. I tried writing it down on my phone so as to not use paper, but it didn’t work for me. My phone stresses me out and reminds me of all the shit I have to do. When I physically write something down it feels tangible, separate and sacred. It feels like a positive reinforcement to me. Whereas when I use my phone I forget about it instantly because my phone gives me the desire to multitask (this is my personal theory anyway). If you are the kind of person who can use your phone without stress, I think that’s wonderful and very possible. Folks swear by thankfulness apps and using electronic notepads for this same exercise. If you search “Gratitude Journal” in your app store you will see many free options. I would recommend one, but I feel preference and lifestyle is really key when selecting this option and all of the free options sound great and similar.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t for everyone. Folks dealing with clinical depression or anxiety disorders can sometimes feel overwhelmed, and when thinking of things they are grateful for, they can begin to feel as if they need to pay those things back or earn them in some way. This would have been me a few years ago, but now a daily doses of gratitude help. For me, the key to avoiding guilt or a sense of being indebted has been two fold:
- Focusing on things that I know I have, paired with the mantras: “I am enough”, or “I choose to enjoy and let go of what I cannot control”.
- Meditation in general pairs well with this and helps me stay present and positive, and you can check out my previous post on meditation if you are interested.
Another remedy for this could be to do the exercise only once, or three times a week as opposed to everyday. Also, it’s important to keep an open mind, since this might not be a time in your life when this exercise is helpful, and that’s okay. Be open to finding what makes you feel good and letting go of the rest. It’s O.K if this process doesn’t make you feel O.K.
Sam Harris on Gratitude: I have mixed feelings on this video, as many folks listening may be dealing with the precise things Sam mentions as extreme examples of suffering. However, I find this exercise extremely positive as a whole. I “disaster predict” a lot, and most days I find this extremely helpful in allowing me to enjoy where I am at and reclaiming that tendency. Other days, it makes me spiral into more disaster predictions and I feel extreme anxiety. So, know thyself and proceed with care and love for yourself.
Update On My Show:
We are approaching our show date at the end of January, and any support towards the show is much appreciated. The show is one hundred percent free for the community (and it takes a village to raise some art), so thank you so much to all of those who have already donated and made it possible to make it this far! I am grateful beyond what words can express. We still have a little ways to go, so let’s have some fun with it! Some Black Friday / Cyber Monday Fun!
Anyone who donates to the One Woman Hamlet GoFundMe this week will be entered to win a First Ascent Climbing Package For Two! You are entered even if you just donate a dollar!
Grab a friend or family member and redeem this card for two registrations to a Learning The Ropes or Learning to Boulder class, plus a return visit and rental gear for both visits! Use your return visit to climb, take a yoga class, use our fitness area or co-working space with free wifi, and connect with our welcoming community. Retail value: $200! A great gift for the holidays, yourself, or just because! Check out more about First Ascent on their website.
This Past Week: Blocking puppet scenes and setting rehearsal schedules!