A Better Life: Are You Game?
I recently read an article by cbsnews.com in which the news station challenged Americans to join the movement by “going on the wagon,” which meant getting rid of all our addictive substances. This got me thinking. What else can we as Americans get rid of? We like challenges. We like 5Ks and cook-offs, games and connecting the dots for our difficult clients. So why not challenge ourselves some more. How about a fourteen day challenge to stretch our mindfulness, gratitude, and acceptance? In doing so, we can improve our health physically and mentally.
14 Days to Mindfulness. Why 14?
Fourteen days seems like a relatively short time. I suppose the idea is, if we tell enough people, the accountability factor goes up; a fire is lit inside us, and thus the movement begins and lasts well past the two-week timeframe. By making small changes and accomplishing tiny goals, we then have energy to tackle the bigger “to do’s.”
We teach mindfulness to our clients but do we practice it ourselves? I know I have difficulty finding time to do so, but there are a number of techniques that are simple to insert into our lives.
3 Everyday Mindfulness Techniques:
- Password Therapy. I have been practicing is password therapy (not an original idea mind you), and it seems to work. Instead of writing down the name of your dog or your favorite aunt as a password, think of a motivational word or phrase, (e.g. grabaholdofyourstar). Being forced to type this mantra again and again is akin to speaking aloud to yourself in the mirror. No cheating with saved passwords!
- Mindfulness Walks. Another technique I find helpful is my fifteen-minute mindfulness walks. I walk around my building and take everything in. Some of my most creative thoughts come from simply changing my environment, observing the cracks in the sidewalks, the smells in the air, and the birds flying by.
- Snapping to Life. I sometimes even walk around with a rubber band around my wrist to literally “snap” myself back into the moment as my thoughts wander. Sometimes, on mindfulness walks and beyond, we need to be fully present. This tiny self-reprimand trains the mind to focus.
Gratitude and acceptance are just an added bonus. Who are we if not a part of the collective whole? Friends and family who love and accept us for who we truly are deserve some gratitude. We as fallible creatures deserve gratitude. Let’s take a page out of the Positive Psychotherapy handbook by creating a greater sense of well-being and positive emotions: “People who regularly acknowledge what they have to be thankful for have a higher sense of well-being and happiness than those who do not regularly acknowledge gratitude,” it says. I believe it.
Since we are talking about “getting on the wagon,” acceptance seems like the appropriate behavior to round out the challenge. Acceptance used in this context will mean to simply acknowledge that we are not perfect and to not attempt to change past behaviors and thoughts. The past demands us to wave him goodbye because there are things we cannot change…
The goal with this challenge is to notice and find times or things in life for which we are grateful and thankful. It’s fourteen days. Ready, set, go.
Share, Share, It’s Only Fair
On this fourteen-day path to mindfulness, I will place quotes and words of encouragement on Twitter using the hashtag #14daysthesequal. Please use this hashtag to talk about your experiences, or tell stories on my Facebook page. Share how your day began and ended with photos perhaps.
Good luck, and I’m here with you.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M.E. (2003). “Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377-389.
Adina Silvestri is a licensed professional counselor, researcher, and counselor educator who works with adults and children in her private practice, Life Cycles Counseling.It is her passion to work with individuals with addiction through counseling, research and advocacy efforts with the hope of raising awareness to the lack of gender specific treatment and recovery programs. Read more about her at www.adinasilvestri.com