When I was a kid, I took the yellow bus to school like so many others. One day, a new (and painfully shy) girl stumbled up the steps. As she gazed across the crowded, rowdy seats with a look that screamed “What fresh hell is this?” on her face, not a soul acknowledging her existence, I finally smiled at her and said “You can sit here,” pointing to the seat next to me. It was a tiny, simple thing – no big deal really. But it was to her. The look of relief and gratitude on her face was one I didn’t soon forget. It was one of the first real moments in my life when I began to clue in to the positive, restorative, and mutually healing force behind helping others. As I grew up that understanding only deepened, and formed the foundation for my decision as a young adult to walk out on a lucrative six-figure salary job in the fashion industry and return to graduate school to become a therapist. During both the joyful and darker moments in my own life, it has been through the practice of kindness and compassion that has made the ultimate difference in my wellbeing.
We all act in different ways in life. We work at different jobs, associate with different people, engage in certain hobbies, embrace and celebrate some things, avoid and struggle with others. No matter what we do or how we do it though, one thing I have learned over my years as a therapist is this: We all essentially want the same thing out of life, and that is to be happy. The driving motivation behind every choice we make in our lives is the belief that we will somehow be better off by doing whatever it is we decide to do and consequently, we’ll be happier. This makes perfect sense; we intuitively know that the ability to be happy and content with life plays a major role in our personal wellbeing. So it’s pretty understandable why we are driven to seek happiness as much as possible. The big question is this: Can we make ourselves happier and if so, how? Turns out it’s fairly straightforward.
In a nutshell, our experience of happiness is determined by three things: 1) Genes; 2) Circumstances/environment; and 3) Positive actions. The first two are difficult to control. The easiest and most powerful way to influence our own level of happiness is by far through the last item: Intentional positive actions that we commit to practicing every day. Studies have shown that this can determine how happy we are by up to 40%. So what’s the best way to develop the habit of taking positive actions and bringing them into our daily routines? I have the answer in the form of my new book, The Kindness Journal.
“Our mind works significantly better when positive than when negative, stressed, or even neutral!”
The Kindness Journal is a guided, interactive journal based on the science of Positive Psychology and Mind Body Health. It is backed entirely by research and works to refocus your mind toward personal aspirations and accomplishments, your most joyful moments of the day, the kindness of others you experienced in the day, and creating positive courses of action for tomorrow. It works to essentially reprogram our mind and behaviour to become more positive in order to create more success, happiness and reward in our lives.
Writing a journal has been common practice for some of the most enigmatic figures in history (think Barack Obama and Winston Churchill). But it can be tough to commit to. I designed The Kindness Journal for those who don't want (or have the time) to stare at a blank page. The simple, prompted entries take only 6 minutes each day to complete. The book is comprised of two parts. The first part is an introduction to the science behind kindness, its relationship to happiness and wellness, and explains each entry, the research that supports why they are so effective, and how to write them. It’s there to help you get the most out of your journaling experience. The second and main part of The Kindness Journal is the actual “journal” itself, and contains four months worth of guided entries to be completed at the end of each day.
“Not every day is good, but there’s something good in every day.”
So what will you get out of The Kindness Journal? Well, life moves pretty fast. We all have happy moments but they can get lost in the daily grind. As humans we have a negativity bias that was once adaptive but is now dated. Yet we still have a tendency to focus on the negative. Think about it: At the end of your day, what do you spend your time talking about to those around you: The good stuff, or all the things that went wrong? The Kindness Journal is the perfect tool to help you tune in to the best experiences of your day and savour them, so you’ll channel the positive feelings and make them the ones that last – not the negative ones. It will help you refocus on your accomplishments and the 'goodness' in each day – big or small - and remind you of what makes you and the world awesome. Daily inspirational quotes and weekly “dares” will keep you inspired, motivated, and challenged.
But does it really work? Well... check this out:
At a recent speaking engagement for a convention, I administered a questionnaire assessing the satisfaction and overall outlook on life of the participants. I then had them complete just one day’s worth of entries from the journal. Following this I re-administered the same questionnaire. Of the group, a full 60% reported that their answers to the questionnaire changed after completing the journal entries, to reflect more happiness and satisfaction about life in the present, and to be more optimistic about the future. The remaining 40% of participants reported seriously considering changing their answers to be more positive and optimistic than they were the first time around. This was after completing a single entry. Just imagine the cumulative benefits to be gained by making the journal part of your regular routine. And it takes only 6 minutes each day to do. Benefits from writing in The Kindness Journal each day include:
Increased optimism and a more positive outlook
Stronger relationships/feeling more connected to others
Increased confidence and self-esteem
Higher sense of meaning in life
Greater empathy and compassion
Reduced depression, anxiety, anger, and stress
Higher levels of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) in the brain
Improved immune system functioning (longer lifespan!)
Live with more mindfulness, gratitude, and intention.
The Kindness Journal won’t solve every problem in life, and it’s not meant to make us feel “amazing” 100% of the time (which isn’t realistic anyway). What it does is to ultimately help us change our mindset and our behaviour, and therefore how we feel and the outcomes we create for ourselves. Using it regularly leads to a greater sense of overall contentedness, satisfaction, and peace. And at the completion of each book, you have a permanent record of the most memorable moment from each day that may otherwise have been forgotten – a beautiful keepsake.
I was inspired to write The Kindness Journal when I became a mother for the first time several years ago, and wanted a concrete way to teach my son how to become a kind and compassionate person. But truthfully I was inspired much earlier than even that, by the many therapy clients I have seen over the years. I wanted to create a simple, but also powerfully efficient and effective, way for people to really feel happier every day, without having to invest a great deal of time or money. It’s a fantastic tool for adults, but also wonderful for teens and pre-teens to help them cultivate healthier mental habits, a more positive outlook, and compassionate behaviour.
At times it can seem as though the world is becoming colder and evermore unkind, filled with negative people and sad events. However seeing things this way is not only unhealthy but also fundamentally untrue. It’s important and stunningly restorative to remind ourselves that the world is, for the most part, a good place. The Kindness Journal makes it a snap to do exactly that.
Take advantage of our Black Friday/Cyber Monday special price! From November 25 though November 28 ONLY, The Kindness Journal is priced at just $9.95. That’s a saving of over 40% off the list price of $16.95! Kick off the holidays and New Year by doing something nice…taking care of you.
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Visit www.thekindnessjournal.com for more information, as well as great tips and articles on how to live your happiest life!