Getting the Gratitude Attitude (Free PDF Diary Sheet)

Where as ‘bad news comes in threes’, or so it’s said, there doesn’t seem to be any comparable unit of measurement for good news. This perceptual bias of vigilance for the bad stuff at the expense of the good stuff means that our perception of the world may become distorted.

The daily hassles and uplifts theory of stress maintains that it is often the small stuff that strongly influences our stress levels. At the end of the day we mentally weigh up the hassles versus the uplifts. The result is a ‘good day’ or ‘one of those days’.

So given that we’re led to believe that ‘bad things come in threes’ maybe we need to look three times as hard to find the good stuff. That’s where The Gratitude Experiment helps. I use this technique in my training and coaching practice. It’s a simple exercise to help you to develope the gratitude attitude and focus more on the good stuff, and to balance out those hassles and uplifts.

To get started, download the free PDF diary sheet which is from my self-help and coaching book: ‘Don’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It’). Now run off a few copies. Start with a week’s worth or better still a month’s worth. Then, every evening list three things that you were grateful for during the day, no matter how small. It could be a compliment, a perfect cappuccino, a bit of scenery, anything. You could also list three people you were grateful to that day. The second part, each morning, is to list three things you are looking forward to that day. Resist the temptation to write the same things everyday; add something new. The overall idea is to retrain your perceptions to include more of the good stuff. At the end of the week or month, assess what changes there have been in your life. The idea is also featured  Richard Wiseman’s :59 Seconds, and is grounded in evidence-based research.*

Focusing on the blessings instead of the burdens can help to improve optimism and increase happiness, and it’s so simple to achieve.

I’ve posted on this topic before but knowing that it’s sometimes the smallest of obstacles that prevent us from making changes, I’ve included a PDF download to make it just a little easier to give ‘The Gratitude Experiment’ a go. So try it and out and pass it on to family and friends and feel free to post a comment of your results.

 Links

Notes: * R.A.Simmons & M.E.McCullough (2003). ‘Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life’. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, pp 377-89.

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I’m not anti-self-help. . I’m anti ‘yo-yo self-help’. Saying ‘Yes’ to Action Plans & Goals!

Judging from the flurry of activity on my blog posts about New Year’s resolutions, I’m guessing ‘nerves are becoming frayed’ and ‘will power’s on the wane’. However it’s no time to give up. . . it’s time to take stock, recoup and move forward. Stumbling on your new year’s resolutions is not about ‘failure’, it’s about feedback. And when I write ‘Say ‘No’ to New Year’s Resolutions’, I’m not anti-personal development’. Far from it. I’m just anti ‘yo-yo self help’. There’s a big difference. Making positive changes in our lives is not about random ‘getting caught up in the moment’ vague wishful thinking. Real life changes require real planning. Your will power is not the problem; your planning is, that’s all. You can fix that. Creating a compelling action plan gives you an opportunity to develop confidence in your strengths and skills.

So if you find your resolve weakening, don’t take this as an indication that you should give up on your goals. Instead, take this opportunity to use this feedback to adjust your action plan. If what you are doing is not working for you, make the necessary adjustments and try again. Don’t wait until next year or next month or any other symbolic date. Use the feedback while it’s ‘hot’ and take action, now!

The following links will help:

Links:

See my other personal development posts.

See my other posts on goal-setting.

Book: Don’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It!

Other personal development books at: PsyStore.

Saying ‘No’ to New Year’s Resolutions & ‘Yes’ to Positive Lasting Change

New Year, new you? No chance, no change?

Every New Year our attention is drawn to personal change, which we translate, into intention in the form of resolutions. So why do they fizzle out? What’s the problem? Yes, we  start with good intention and take action, but the problem is that, more often than not, we simply don’t have a well-thought out action plan. We need a well-defined target, not a fuzzy vague ‘over there somewhere’. New Year’s resolutions simply don’t work for a number of very good reasons. So, let’s begin by looking at six common problems with them, and how to put them right:

Negativity
‘Losing’, ‘giving up’, ‘cutting out’ and ‘cutting down’ all have negative connotations. However, we tend to respond better to positively stated goals, such as ‘aiming for a target weight’ or ‘increasing healthy foods‘ or ‘increasing variety in foods‘ and ‘boosting energy levels‘.

Vagueness
Classic New Year’s Resolutions are always rather vague and wishy washy. So, it’s difficult to reach a target that’s not clearly defined.  So once, you’ve got your positively worded direction, it’s best to get specific. What exactly are you going to do to hit your target. What are the behaviours? Target specific actions, such as drinking seven glasses of water and going to the gym three times a week for 45 minutes each time.

Immeasurable
In order to measure your progress you need to make your goals measurable. Ask yourself lots of ‘how’ questions, such as ‘how much’, ‘how many’, and how often’. Just doing something ‘more often’ is vague and immeasurable. Also build up to your target so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Build steady progress into your routine, and where possible break larger goals down into smaller milestones.

Unachievable
Each year we psych ourselves up for the new year. It feels so now or never.   Of course we need goals that are going to stretch us or else we’d soon get bored. However, it’s pointless setting impossible goals. Our goals need to be achievable. Are your goals within your capabilities?

Unrealistic
It’s common to tackle too many things at once or over-plan every minute of your day. Be realistic and pick one thing at a time to work on. That way you build your confidence.

Open-ended (never-ending)
If you goal is your ‘preferred end state’ then you need a ‘preferred end date’. Putting a time scale on it helps with motivation. It provided a sense of ‘urgency’ about the goal.

The SMARTER approach to New Year’s Resolutions is to set SMARTER goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound
  • Enthusiastically (positively) worded
  • Regularly-reviewed

Goal-setting is not a one shot deal. It’s a process. If you find your progress is slower than expected or you find yourself not hitting those milestones when expected, then GO BACK AND REVIEW! It’s only failure if you fail to use the feedback. Have a look to see if your goals really are realistic and achievable for your person circumstances. If you need to, make changes are try again. Don’t wait until next New Year’s day. . . get right back to it straight away.

Saying ‘No’ to New Year’s resolutions and using SMARTER as well as other goal-setting tools and techniques (such as PAR and GO-FLOW) means that instead of vague statements of wishful thinking, you will have concrete, action plans to channel your resources. So make your final resolution to ditch resolutions and start setting goals. . . not just once a year when you’re caught up in the New Year fever. . .but any time you want to take charge and make changes. . . positive lasting change!

[Adapted from Don’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It!‘]

Links:


Yet More Personal Development Quotations

More of my favourite motivational / inspirational quotes:

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions – as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.

– Friedrich Nietzche

Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

– William James

He who postpones the hour of living rightly is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.

– Horace

Links:

Don’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It


For All The People Who Claim NOT To Be Creative: The Imagination Quiz

Do you believe that creativity is a quality that only ‘creative people’ possess? OK, so you may not be the most creative person in the world ever but can you honestly say that you have zero creativity? This doesn’t necessarily mean artistic skill; it’s about imagination. Are you an imaginative person?

Here’s a short quiz to find out:

Imagination Quiz

We often use this to dismiss our abilities if we feel they don’t come up to scratch, but this is weakness-focused reasoning. Adopting strengths-focused reasoning helps us to build on what we have. So:

Answer either ‘Absolutely 100% No’ or ‘yes’. If it’s not 100% ‘no. then it must be yes.

  1. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever watched a cookery programme on TV and found your mouth watering just watching the ingredients being prepared?
  2. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever read a book and formed an image of one of the characters?
  3. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever listened to music that evoked emotions or mental images of places or people?
  4. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever been worried about something?
  5. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever been frightened of something?
  6. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever had a dream, a nightmare or daydream?
  7. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever wondered whether there is life on Mars and what it might look like?
  8. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever had sexually arousing thoughts or sexual fantasies?
  9. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to change biological sex for the day?
  10. Yes or absolutely no? If you became a multimillionaire can you imagine something that you would do with the money?
  11. Yes or absolutely no? Have you ever seen a piece of modern art and thought ‘I could do that’?

And finally,

13.  Do you have any superstitions?

Scoring:

  • For every YES score ten points
  • For every ABSOLUTELY NO score zero points
  • Give yourself 100 bonus points if you skipped question 13.

If you scored ten points or more you qualify as a creative, imaginative person.

You could put your imagination to good use through visualization techniques to help support your goals just like top athletes do. So, instead of obsessing over a negative outcome, you can mentally rehearse a positive outcome.

Links:

Book: Don’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It

Book: Changer votre vie ! : Petits exercices pour vous prendre en main

How Did You Get This Far? Solution Focused, Strengths Focused Learning

So How Did You Get This Far? Solution Focused, Strengths Focused Learning

If you got 40% and passed a test, what would be your first question? Would it be:

  1. What happened to the other 60%, or
  2. What did I do to pass and get 40%

If it’s answer 1, then you’re taking a ‘weakness focused’ approach.

If it’s answer 2, you’re taking a ‘strengths focused approach’

Personal development often focuses on improving weaknesses but there’s a body of research that argues a ‘strengths-based’ approach is more effective. In short, we can’t all be fabulous at everything.To attempt to do so would require massive effort. It’s more economical to invest more time in what we are already good at, so we can specialize and excel (we can then manage the weaknesses).

I remember hearing of a child who arrived home with a staggering 96% on a maths test. The response of one of the parents was ‘What happened to the other 4%?’ Whereas they should have be celebrating the 96%. The questions they should have asked are:

  • What did you do to get that result?
  • Was there anything that you really think helped that you can do more of next time?
  • What strengths and qualities helped you get this far?
  • What did you do differently this time?
  • Is there something that you use to do that you stopped doing this time?
  • What can you let go of that didn’t help?
  • What else did you do?
  • What else?

With the strengths focused approach you concentrate on what you have already attained and then build on it, whether it’s 96%, 57%, 40% or 22%. This makes sense as it is the same approach we use with babies. After witnessing a baby’s first step, surely you wouldn’t dream of saying ‘And why didn’t you run around the coffee table?’ No, you’d praise them, encourage them to try again and focus on how they managed to take that first step. Now think about the staggering amount that babies manage to learn in a very short space of time.

You can apply the same to any goal you’ve set and tried for. If you didn’t get that 100% result, try focusing on what you have actually achieved and how you got there. Using the above questions you will use the feedback to build on strengths. If you obsess over what you didn’t get, you’ll probably lose motivation and give up! So go back and review previous attempts at goals and apply the strengths-focused questions. You have everything to gain.

Links:

Don’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It!

Goal-Setting with PAR & SWOT

In golf, every hole is classified by its par. It is the theoretic number of strokes that expert golfers should require for getting the ball into the hole. So based on this, I give you PAR for goal-setting.

P A R stands for:

  • Plan
  • Action
  • Result (or Review)

Using PAR for the basis of all goal-setting, if the action doesn’t immediately lead to a result, this offers the opportunity to reflect and go back to the planning stage. It’s also helps to use PAR in conjunction with my other goal-setting model GO-FLOW (see below) as well as a SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Using SWOT can help us to play to our strengths, manage our weaknesses, maximise opportunities and neutralise threats (obstacles).

Taken together, PAR, SWOT and GO-FLOW remind us that what we often term ‘failure’ is actually ‘feedback’. Goal-setting isn’t about getting ‘a hole in one’. It’s about learning how to use feedback to refine our plan so that our action becomes increasingly locked on to our targets. Goal-setting is a process of continual, focused enlightenment not a one-off  ‘shot in the dark’.

Links:

What Will the Korean People Make Of My Marine Metaphors?

What will the Korean people make of 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It?

What will the Korean people make of 'Don't Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It?

I’m not sure what the Korean people will make of it but it’s been confirmed that a translation of my bookDon’t Wait For Your Ship To Come In. . . Swim Out To Meet It’ is going ahead.  It’s great news. I’ve never had a book published in Korea before although  I’m also not sure how my jokes will translate. . . seeing as some of them barely make it in English. Then there’s the poem, and the cocktail recipes and the playlist for the personal development party. . . then there’s the  goal setting acronyms (such as GO-FLOW) and all the puns, word play and marine metaphors? Will the title stay the same? This is even before I consider how the psychology and coaching approach will be perceived.

With a few other translations in the pipeline I foresee the online translation programs going into overdrive as I try to work out exactly what I’m advising people in far off lands.