By Jackie Gartman, DivineCaroline
1. Do at least one thing every day that makes you smile. Maybe it’s visiting the pet store, going to a matinee, reading poetry out loud, or listening to the wind chimes on a blustery day. If you have no clue about what makes you smile, put a basket in any high traffic area in your home. Whenever something happens that makes you smile, jot it down on a piece of paper and drop it in the basket. After a week or two, empty the basket and you’ll be surprised by the things that bring you joy.
2. Stop taking everything so personally. Sometimes it’s just not about you! How often do you interpret other’s comments or actions personally and make them about you? When you see your neighbor at the grocery store and she walks by without saying hello, do you assume:
- I did something wrong.
- I’m not good enough for her.
- She’s ignoring me because I didn’t invite her son to little Billy’s b-day party.
If the answer is any one of the above, try reinterpreting her behavior. For example, is it possible that your neighbor:
- Was focused on picking artichokes and she just didn’t see you.
- Was just in a car accident and is trying to shake it off.
- Just realized she’s turning fifty next week and has to schedule her first colonoscopy.
Do your interpretations create a feeling of peace or stress? If the answer is stress, create a new story to explain her behavior that you feel good about. The bottom line is you really have no idea what is going on with your neighbor, so why not choose a meaning that makes you feel good?
3. Evaluate your “to do” list. Make a list of ten things you have to do this week. Next perform what I call a body scan. Notice how your body responds when you imagine doing each of these things on your list. Does your body feel tense? Do you feel a pit in your stomach? Focus on the task that brings up the most pain, and ask yourself why you are planning to do this thing that causes you to feel anxious or stressed. If the answer is “I have to,” then you set yourself up to be in a completely helpless position. There are no alternatives when you operate from that principle. If the answer is “I choose to do it because if I don’t it would be morally repulsive,” you come from a more powerful place and one of choice.