"'Unless a person has a lot of psychological tools at her disposal, the mind is not a pleasant place to inhabit,' says Germer. 'We have evolved for survival, not happiness, and thus we have a natural tendency to focus on the negative.' When the brain is at rest, he adds, it tends to get busy revealing problems from the past and anticipating problems to come. Once we scanned for predators and poisons, now we fret over the unemployment stats and what our mother-in-law had the nerve to say at dinner." (quoted from Real Simple, January 2013, page 92; Christopher Germer is a clinical psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School and the author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion)
To counteract our negative fretting, the article goes on to recommend paying attention to what's around us with our senses. Touch the flower. Sniff the baby's hair. Taste the bread. Look at the sky. Listen to the violin. It's also called mindfulness, or living in the moment.
For the first time in my life, I get it.
And for the first time in my life, I am starting a new journal on the first day of the new year. My old journal is actually filled up; it's got ranting, crying, poetry, prayers, and touchstones. But my intent for this new journal is to fill it with gratitude, to make lists of where I notice God's mercy in my life. I noticed Christian and Beth doing this - I finally caught on!
|The old journal on the left; I made the collage on the cover.|
These last few years have been difficult years for me - this blog was born out of some of that difficulty as a way to take note of the good things in my life, to gently discipline myself to focus on the good. The flip side of that discipline is that, unless you know me in real life, you may not know of my difficulties and bad days. Please know that my life is not perfect because nothing damages our sisterhood more than pretend perfection; however, the public forum is not the place for me to tell every negative thing that passes through my heart and mind. Face-to-face, oh yes, I'll tell you!
So, my gratitude journal is what amounts to a New Year's resolution for me. I'm pondering some more resolutions, too, but although I am a goal-oriented person, I do not take them on lightly. I'll report back if I add some more goals.
|The new journal had no spiral to put a pen, so I made a little sleeve to hold one.|
Happy New Year, my friends! I'm so grateful you're on this strange, joyful journey with me.