Saturday, January 4, 2014

What Do You Love About Your Life? Exercises for the New Year.

Learning to love your life may be the secret to happiness. What would it take for you to love your life? Do small things count or are you waiting to win the lottery?  Sometimes I hear someone say they can't love their life because such and such happened; or because they have some problem in their life. Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" calls us to view ourselves as the heroes of our own life journeys and offers the perspective that the least favorable moments of one's life can be viewed as stepping stones rather than fatal mistakes or victim stories. Even current problems can be viewed as opportunities to grow or invitations to change. Just as every negative thought you have grows and creates more negativity, so does every positive thought multiply and create a positive backdrop for your life. It may be time to change your wallpaper! Here are some simple exercises to help in beginning to love your life and maybe even yourself.

Exercise I:   Begin a running list of what you love (or at least like) about your life. Yes, coffee and ice cream count. Listings can be past or present. By the time you have 500 listings, I believe you will have effectively changed the screen through which you view your life, yourself, your relationships.  If you make this a daily practice you will begin to look for things as you move through your day to add to the list. When you begin to actively look for things to love, your life becomes more loveable and so will you! If you can't get to 10, try reading the 'Strawberry Vine' story on this blog.

Exercise II: How to Rewrite your Life Stories

The instructions are simple: Choose a troubling event and write about it for 15 minutes a day for 4 consecutive days. Let the words flow without concern for how it sounds or spelling etc.--This is for you, not something to share or edit. By the fourth writing, you will hopefully notice a shift in perspective. Worth a try!

Exercise III:

HAPPINESS BRAIN TRAINING (based on a teaching of Joan Borysenko)
So if you didn't get enough of the happiness gene, here is an exercise for you I have been using with clients. Each night before bed, think back through your day and try to remember one thing you were grateful for that day that you don't usually notice being grateful for. Bring the pleasant feelings back into your awareness and intentionally absorb them for a count of ten. If you commit yourself to this nightly ritual, you will begin to anticipate the question and start looking for unusual things to be grateful for throughout your day and consciously try to remember them. This builds the 'happiness muscle' in your brain--which the exercising of--produces 'happiness hormones'--that can change your entire reference point in life!
May you be happy!

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