How Journaling Can Help You Cultivate Positive Thinking Habits

Do you keep a journal? It’s a great way to think things through and find patterns in your life. It’s a great way to record memories and personal growth. It’s also an excellent way to cultivate positive thinking habits.

“Habits” is the key word here. How we think is a habit. We grow accustomed to seeing the glass half full or half empty. We make it a habit to focus on the good stuff or the bad stuff. To get better at positive thinking, we have to make it a habit, and a journal can help us do that.

When we sit down to write, we focus our mind. We force ourselves to examine what we’ve been doing or thinking. It helps us clear our mind and find the important stuff. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing in an old fashioned journal, in a word document or blog on your computer, or if you use an app on your phone. The process of putting words on the page helps us organize and evaluate our thoughts. That’s why it’s such a valuable tool when it comes to building new habits.

By sitting down with your journal each day, you start to examine what you’ve done and how well you’ve kept up with the habit of thinking more positive thoughts. The beauty of a journal is that it is private. You can be – and should be – completely honest with yourself. Record your wins, but don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve slipped up and went back to negative thought patterns.

It’s important that you realize when you do it. Until that happens, it’s hard to break those old habits. You have to realize when it’s happening. Once you do that, you can start to catch yourself in the process of sliding into negative thoughts. The next step is to stop in your tracks, realize what you’re about to do, and then find a way to turn it around. The journal will help you with that process by going back each day and examining when you did well and when you didn’t.

After a little while, you’ll see patterns emerge. Maybe you’re good about thinking positive thoughts until you come home at night. In that case, it may be time to figure out what’s giving you a negative vibe in your space. Maybe it’s small, dark, and too crowded. What can you do to make it a more positive and inviting space to live in? Maybe you find that you do well unless you get in contact with certain people. What can you do to change the relationship dynamic and keep from sliding back into negativity around them?

There’s a lot to be gained from journaling. Not only is it great for recognizing patterns and establishing new habits, but a journal will also document your progress. When you are feeling low and are wondering if all your hard work towards a more positive attitude is making a difference, go back and read earlier journal entries. You’ll see right away how much progress you’ve been making. It may be slow from day to day and hard to see, but over time all those small changes add up to something big. Give it a try!

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Challenge: Confidence Hack: Cultivate a New Habit

It’s time for another confidence hack. Today is all about cultivating new habits. There’s nothing to boost your confidence like getting into the habit of doing something positive. I don’t care if it’s giving up coffee or smoking, hitting the gym each morning, or getting your most dreaded task out of the way by 10 am. We all have habits we would like to create that will improve our lives, our jobs, or at the very least make things easier for us. But establishing new habits isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be hard to get going. Which is where today’s confidence hack comes into play. I have a simple little strategy that you can deploy anytime you want to cultivate a new good habit.

Use The KISS Principle

Creating new habits isn’t easy. That’s why it’s important to keep it simple (Keep It Simple Silly). Don’t overcomplicate things and don’t try to change too much at once. Instead of completely making over your morning for example, tackle it one habit at a time. Start by getting up at a certain time of the day and doing one simple task like writing in your journal. Once that habit is established, start making a new one. Rinse and repeat until you’ve completely made over your morning routine, one positive habit at a time.

Commit For 30 Days

There’s a very good reason I made this confidence building series 30 days long. It takes about that long to start establishing a new habit. Use the same concept and commit to your new habit for 30 days. At the end of that time you should see some serious results and chances are you’ve formed the new habit so you no longer have to put a lot of energy and effort into making it happen on a daily basis.

There you have it. Keep it simple and define one new habit you want to establish. Then stick to it for 30 days. It can be helpful to have a calendar or checklist where you can check it off every day. Your biggest challenges will be to remember to do the new task each day, and to keep from talking yourself into slacking off towards the middle of that month long commitment. By the end the new habit should become a true habit and something you will do without having to think about at least spending a lot of energy talking yourself into getting it done.

Don't Miss a Post!

Catch up on any posts you miss during the challenge. Here's the link: confidence and courage challenge posts.

On Forced–I Mean, Disciplined–Writing

People of the planet Earth who know me, and doubtless inhabitants of other planets who tap into our Aethertubes as well, agree that I am not the most disciplined person on said planet. The reason I'm going to a personal trainer to lose weight is because I cannot summon up the required discipline on my own. Neurons within my brain or whatever it is rebels at the thought of forcing myself to keep to a rigid schedule of anything. (Although I am obsessive about getting to work early.) I'm trying, though, to reimprint those neurons, and I'm happy to say I've had a modicum of success.

Two reasons for this miracle of modern reprogramming occur to me. One, I'm newly obsessed with writing. Now, I've written fiction since I was 10 or 12, but with my discovery of Smashwords, Kindle and e-publishing, I've felt a new empowerment, of which I've written elsewhere. Two, I very much want my writing to succeed. I don't particularly want to be famous (okay, maybe a little), but I do want to sell books to more than my friends and family (because, let's face it, they can only buy so many copies).

Because of this obsession, I've constructed a schedule of marketing for my books, and so far I've stuck with it fairly well. Outlook mercilessly reminds me of my to-do list items. The schedule includes tasks such as “Comment on 2 blog posts daily” and “Write a blog post on Aether Excursions every Thursday” and “Freshen Amazon Author Central page monthly.” One of the tasks I haven't been so good at keeping up with is “Write 500 words daily on Noora and the Vessel of the Clouds,” my work-in-progress (WIP). Now, 500 words isn't much, about half a single-spaced page in Word. I try, but I tend to slack off on that particular item.

But I got an invitation from an author I very much respect, a former Horror Writers Association colleague, Nancy Etchemendy to participate in this year's Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop Write-a-Thon. How cool is that? (It's not too late to sponsor me! Here's the link. Proceeds go to support the famous Clarion Writers Workshop.) The challenge I chose was to write 1000 words per day for a week.

I'm a slow writer. I tend to self-edit as I go, diving off into research tangents. But I figured I could write 1ooo words a day.

Most days have gone pretty well, although it's hard to find the time. It takes me about an hour to write about a page or a little more. But by tomorrow, I should have about 10,000 words toward my novel. If I keep this rate up, I could have the first draft finished in a couple of months. Amazing, you say? It is when you consider it took me at least 22 drafts to write the 100,000 words that are Second Death. Yes, I'm Donna, and I'm an over-write-a-holic. But I'm working on changing that.

How long does it take for an action to become a habit? Six weeks or so? Maybe I'll keep this rate up. Oo, maybe I'll join Camp NaNoWriMo and write the rest of it in a month!

Wow, talk about re-channeling engrams. That might even cause an entire personality change.

Not sure if the universe is ready for that yet…

[What are your experiences with forced stints of writing? Let me know about them in the comments.]