About the positive life plan
Regular readers will know that my friend: writer, blogger, and life coach, Erica Douglas, and I originally came up with the positive life plan when we were on holiday together. We were just chatting about life and the germ of an idea started to form: we split the main topics of our thoughts into different categories: health, fitness, money, beauty/personal style, relationships, work/personal brand, quality time, aspirations, self, and added the rule that everything had to be positive, no being hard on ourselves. We thought it would give us the opportunity to perform a positive life edit that we could continue to work on and refer back to now and again to keep ourselves on track. Basically the plan is as simple or as complicated as you make it. Many people have said that they have a notebook split into sections, and just keep track of their thoughts and feelings on each topic, updating and editing every so often, but do whatever suits you. This month, we’re focusing on the first category of the positive life plan: self.
The positive life plan: self
If you’re taking part in the Positive Life Plan, I think you’ll agree that one of the hardest categories to fill in is the ‘self’ one. It almost feels a bit selfish and strange to spend time thinking about ourselves – we seem to be much kinder to other people, perversely! In the self section you can take the time to really think about you: what makes you happy, and what positive changes you’d like to make. Rather than fitness or health and beauty, this is more about your mental health, happiness and wellbeing. For example, Erica says: ‘I have been focusing on spirituality recently for my ‘self’ area – finding books to read that are helping me to understand the world and my place in it a bit better’.
Creating your positive plan
I find that a notebook is my most important tool in finding happiness and positivity. I have sections for each part of the positive life plan and I like to take time out regularly (preferably in a lovely café with some time to myself) to go through and read what I’ve written and maybe change/update my plan or note down how something has changed. BUT, use whatever works for you. Maybe it’s more helpful to just take five minutes out of every day to meditate, focusing on your thoughts and feelings, or perhaps it’s easier to just make little notes on your phone.
What makes you happy?
Erica says: ‘we live in a society that focuses very much on the negative. The media spews out daily stories of death and destruction and this influences our own communications. When was the last time you had a really uplifting conversation with someone? A conversation which wasn’t just a moan fest. Life may not be perfect, that’s ok, it’s not supposed to be. With some daily practise you’ll start to realise there’s ALWAYS something positive in life that makes you happy (read on to find out that you don’t even have to wait for something external!). You may find it helpful to track your mood and happiness level to discover just where those pockets of happiness reside, I promise you they’re there (unless you are clinically depressed, in which case you should seek the help of a counsellor or your GP).’
Some people find it really helpful to keep a diary. I know others find a gratitude journal really helpful, where you write down five things you’re grateful for every day), or maybe it’s just a case of occasionally just jotting little positive thoughts or feelings down to revisit when you’re not having such a great day. Erica: ‘happiness is a habit, you can learn to be happy, it doesn’t have to be at the mercy of external factors. Happiness really is just a choice, a new state of mind.’
Plan to make changes to things that make you unhappy
Without dwelling too much on the negatives (this plan is all about positivity remember), maybe you can touch on areas that you’d like to improve or review situations to try and see the positives, so that going forward you’re not worrying about them happening again. I find it helps to chat worries over with Jim, or a friend – another person’s input can be invaluable in finding a simple solution. Erica: ‘I spent a long while suffering with Crohns disease. Over the last 15 years I have adapted my lifestyle to something that suits me. A series of small steps is all it takes if taken consistently.’
Take time for you
If you’re busy at work, rushing around at home after your family, or have hobbies and other interests that take up your time, it can be easy to forget to take time for you. Maybe the solution is as simple as getting away from your desk to get some fresh air, walking the dog, or – and this is a big one for me – having something in the diary to look forward to: whether it be a holiday, dinner with friends or even just a coffee with my Mum
Don’t try to be perfect!
At the end of the day, nobody’s life is perfect (despite what Instagram would lead you to believe). We’re not striving for perfection, just for peace and a little bit of positivity in our day to day lives! For Erica, ‘it’s about knowing I am living a life that’s authentic to me, not someone else’s version of what success and happiness represents, but a life which I have designed uniquely for me.’