Building on the premise that optimism can be trained, here are some specific steps around cognitive restructuring. Oddly enough, I ran through every concept in this article this morning. First, I thought about the cognitive distortions I had. Brian and I have limited the “all-or-nothing” thinking with our blog posts by agreeing that our main goal was to just get some posts out there and see what happened. We didn’t have to be perfect and not all of the posts required a peer review. Lowering the bar also helps reduce the cognitive stress of having yet another thing to do on my task list for today. I really enjoy writing these posts, but writing can turn into a rabbit hole quickly.
Agile Best Self Principle #6: The most effective way to be your best self is to be mindful and intentional.
Then I mindfully and intentionally remembered that I have control over what I write, how long I write and whether or not I publish. I can also control whether or not I respond to the interruptions that happen when I’m trying to write (as of this moment, I’ve had 3 texts, 1 phone call, two dog-driven barking fits which means I must have 2 packages at the door). But back to the post, the world isn’t going to end if I don’t write a post today. There will be no financial or health repercussions. But I made a choice and a commitment to post on the even numbered days. I’m choosing to stick to that plan. Even if I don’t know where it will take the Agile Best Self work. I firmly believe the outcome will be amazing.
The next step in the article says to cut down on the “shoulds”. Having a North Star helps with that. In today’s world, it is easy to fall in to the trap of shoulds. I should clean the house, I should reorganize the garage….blah, blah, blah. We all have that list. Just remember, it is ok to take a day off. When the “shoulds” pile up, our inner critic takes over and stresses us out.
“Stress is often the result of not attending to what is actually happening. It is like we are out of sync with what is actually happening. Either wanting something to be finished sooner (leaning in to the future) or resisting what is already here.”Alexis Santos: “Stepping Back from Stress” meditation in 10% Happier app,
The last two optimism skills the article focuses on are: 1. Actively focusing on the positive and 2. Staying in the here and now. The authors mention a gratitude journal. If you are stuck on how to identify items for your gratitude journal, scroll back through our posts to look for some examples. You don’t have to have a perfect day to grateful. Brian has a great gratitude post on just being OK. Check out my post on why I’m thankful for my pain in the ass pup (and other inconvenient things like a snowstorm in early October).
Being mindful and intentional helps identify opportunities for “being more” over doing more. And with my task list and commitments taken care of for the day, I can throw my completed to do list in the recycling.
Maybe I will be more by finishing a book or going for a walk or both! What are you going to do use your new skills?
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