Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sunshine in Winter

In Montreal, we’ve been walloped by three major snowstorms in a four-week period. All told, at least five feet of the white fluffy stuff came to clog our streets and exercise our shovels. Then along came a January thaw and rain. Half the snow drifts disappeared and I could not only see pavement again, I could see grass! Now the bitter cold is back and we’re facing a few more months of what seems like an endless winter.

Life is like that sometimes. You are in a period where every day feels like an effort. You wonder when you will finally emerge from your current financial/ relationship/ career/ health woes.

What helps is keeping a gratitude journal. Whenever I have a few moments, I jot down three things for which I am thankful. These are specifics. For example, today’s entries:

● I am grateful for the glorious sunshine – nourishing all my indoor plants.

● I appreciate the opportunity to work on my novel.

● I am thankful that I am able to get around town without owning a vehicle.

I also consider “3 beautiful things” I saw during the day. This allows me to appreciate the splendour of the world around me. I often include flowers, wild life or other aspects of nature such as a rosy sunset. I also see beauty in someone’s smile or in the posture of a poodle as it prances down the street.

If you are in a slog, I suggest you start your own gratitude journal. Just thinking about what’s working in your life will lift your spirits. An added bonus: looking back and seeing all the good stuff you’ve experienced.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Just Do It!

We all have behaviour we would like to change or adopt – which is how New Year’s resolutions came into being. How many of us start the year with earnest plans to lose weight, get more fit, stop smoking or something similar? Yet resolutions often fail. That’s because our old habits are deeply ingrained and it takes at least 15 days to establish new behaviour.

I’ve been meaning to meditate for a long time now. It seems I’m always too busy or too tired to take twenty minutes to sit and clear my head. This evening I finally did just that – and feel great.

I know all about the benefits of meditation. I need the self-discipline that a focused state of mind can bring; I also need the peace and calmness. Yet for months I put it off.

What helps is saying “I choose” this. I like to meditate. I choose to make it a daily practice. I know if I stick with it long enough, it will become a habit. My resistance will eventually fade.

What about you? Is there something you hold off doing that’s important to you? Make a decision and then start small. Don’t feel bad about needing a little push. The critical thing is to take the first step. You’ll immediately feel better about yourself … and that alone makes it worthwhile.