gratitude

Start a Happy Journal!


Uncustomary has been a long-time supporter of The Laughing Medusa and I'm so glad that her comments led me to discover her inspiring blog. She's a tireless champion for self-love and technicoloured living and today she's going to share a powerful tool that you can use to kickstart your self-love journey right away. Self-love is something that changed my life. It started off with life appreciation, by making my gratitude for the things I get to experience known, even if it was just in my head. I started keeping a Happy Journal, where I documented at least three things every day that were good. Slowly, it became easier and easier to list dozens of things every day. The more I said out loud, even to myself, what beauty I was seeing, the easier it was to find more and more of it!

Eventually, the concept of self-love unraveled in a lot of ways, before I even recognized the term itself. I started keeping a blog, reminding myself that what I had to say mattered, even if no one else was reading (yet). I sought out help for my mental illnesses, and did some pretty intense work on myself. I accepted the way my body grew and changed as a result from taking medications, and realized that I was so much more than my size or cellulite. I exited toxic relationships and quit my job to start something that really mattered to me, even if I was sacrificing financial stability and an easily acceptable answer to that “So what do you do?” question.

As I dove deeper into the blog world, Self-Love became a conscious effort. Today, self-love means that I never don’t do something just because I’m worried about how I look. It means that I continue celebrating the life I already have, documenting the small (and huge!) pleasures I get to have every single day. It means reminding my friends, my readers, and strangers on the street that they are beautiful. It means believing in myself enough that I can go out there and live life how I want to without worrying about being judged, even though I know it’s going to happen. It means looking to myself for motivation and inspiration instead of outside sources. The power is inside me, and I need to tap into it before reaching outward.

So how can you recognize the power and sparkle in yourself? My first piece of advice to you is to make an effort to appreciate life and make your gratitude known. An easy way to do this is with a happy journal!

  • Choose a system for yourself, be it digital or in a paper notebook.
  • Create a routine, and keep it strong for two weeks to really get into a routine!
  • Brainstorm good things and feel free to include everything.
  • Write in a format that appeals to you, be it list, paragraph, or with the accompaniment of drawings.
  • Establish a minimum effort, as in your goal of how many things to write each day.
  • Get your juices flowing with a general list. Write down as many things you can think of that make you happy, and see how things get moving!

I promise that once you start appreciating the things around you, it will become easier to include yourself on that list, you beautiful creature, you.

Uncustomary spreads love and positivity through street art, snail mail, and the message of self-love. She wants you to believe in who you are even (especially) if who you are is super weird. You can find her leaving a literal trail of glitter behind her in Baltimore.

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7 Ways to Bust Out of a Slump.

It’s so easy to slip into a funk. They can come out of nowhere or creep up slowly when we’re making little, almost imperceptible choices that take us out of alignment with who we are and where we want to be going. Pretty soon life seems blasé instead of magical and even the smallest obstacle can feel like a major setback. I was in this headspace not too long ago. I was feeling uninspired by my work, uncertain about my dreams, and too many days felt tinged with sadness. I think it’s important to feel our feelings, to accept or even embrace them, but I also know that unless we take action, we’re likely to remain stuck.

I’m not sure that you can jolt yourself out of the doldrums like some people would have us believe, but the things we do every day build up for a major impact. For me, it was like waking up one day to find the clouds had cleared. I felt refreshed, joyful, and completely inspired. In case you’re facing your own period of ennui, here are the slump-busting techniques I swear by.

Make gratitude a daily practice. I won a Five-Minute Journal from the lovely Jessica and since then I’ve been spending a few minutes each morning listing things I’m grateful for, deciding how I can make the day awesome, and choosing an affirmation that reflects those intentions. Then I finish the day by reflecting on everything that made it amazing and one way I’d like to have made it even better. You don’t need a special book to start a gratitude practice – any old scrap of paper will do. The magic is in starting and finishing each day giving thanks for your life – especially when you’ve got the blues and it might be harder to find that silver lining.

Exercise daily. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my funk faded away one week into a 30-day yoga challenge. I tend to avoid exercise like the plague but I’ve been feeling so good since committing to a daily yoga practice, so perhaps there is something to that science stuff after all. My mind feels clearer, I have more energy, and my body feels amazing. Plus, exercise boosts your mood by increasing the feel-good chemicals in your brain.

Get it off your chest. I’m willing to bet that a lot our slumps are caused because we’re holding something in. How we really feel. What we really want. Who we really are. If you’re upset with something someone’s done to you, tell them. If there’s a situation you want to change, talk to someone who can help you make it happen. Keeping things in breeds resentment and a niggling feeling of anxiety. Getting it off your chest can be scary, but I promise it won’t be as bad as you think and you’ll feel better about it in the end.

Accomplish Something. When I’ve got the blues, I feel useless. My inner critic convinces me that I’m a terrible friend, bad at my job, and that I’ll never accomplish my dreams. Pretty soon it feels like I have a never ending to-do list, but that I can’t do anything. Ticking one small thing off your to-do list will create a sense of accomplishment and help you get over that downward spiral of negative thoughts.

 

Set yourself a challenge. Similarly, committing to my 30 Day Yoga Challenge gave me a simple goal to work on each day. I feel proud after every practice. I pat myself on the back when I go to a class even though I was tired and really didn’t feel like it. Setting yourself a simple challenge shifts your focus to something positive and gives you something fun to work towards when you’re feeling uninspired.

Prioritise fun. It’s easy tosap the joy out of your life when everything’s work-work-work all of the time. But life is for living and if you’re not careful, you’ll just be letting it slip away. Schedule fun into your diary. Choose one thing each day to do just for the bliss of it – it can be as simple as dancing wildly to your favourite song or eating a candy bar you loved as a little kid. But make time for the bigger just-for-fun things too. Save up for that circus class. Dye your hair a crazy colour. Book a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but never had a reason to visit.

Give selflessly. In the middle of my funk came a #lovetober prompt that really lit me up: Perform a random act of kindness. I wrote a simple note and used glittery washi tape to stick it to a park bench with a £5 note. I felt so good, even though what I had done was quite small. It filled me with glee thinking about someone stumbling on this little surprise and made me want to do more good deeds (just like Cher!) When I’m going through a rough patch, I get really wrapped up in my own head and doing something for someone else takes me out of that space and makes me feel really good. It doesn’t have to cost any more money: give up your seat on the bus, help a friend move, assist someone who needs help crossing the street, donate clothes to a charity shop. Challenge yourself to perform a random act of kindness everyday for maximum impact.

So, what about you: how have you been feeling lately? Do you have any tried-and-tested techniques for getting out of a funk?

 

Photographs via K. Patine, Flickr, and Disney.