I Iove a good challenge, don’t you?
Whenever I read about some studies that has been done, and the researchers show results in a month or less; then that makes me feel like I want to take on the challenge.
For example, I just recently tried a blueberry challenge. According to this study, one cup a day every day for a month leads to a better mood, and better mobility. And sure enough…just as the study showed, at the end of the month; I was in a better mood and I am certain I had better mobility. I also felt happier and more focused. (And an extra benefit was that I also brushed my teeth more often because they, as well as my lips, were turning purple.)
Currently, I’m in the midst of a 7-day water challenge. I talked one of my daughters into joining in…doing a challenge with someone else always makes it more fun!
And, no doubt, you’ll be excited to hear that I have a prune challenge on my calendar as well. That one needs to be done when I am close to home?!!
So, would you be up for a challenge? I have one that I want to persuade you to try out. Let’s call it, ‘doing the write thing’.
Your assignment requires writing in a journal each day. I know, I know…. I am well aware that some people do not like to write. And so, they make lame excuses that keep them from receiving the great benefits that come with journaling.
Do any of these ‘I don’t want to write in a journal’ excuses ring a bell with you?
But hold on. What If I told you that just committing one hour a day to this challenge could make you smarter, feel better, be less stressed, lower blood pressure, give you more energy, make you feel happier and enable you to have greater success on your goals; then would you do it?
What if you learned that journaling has been proven to not only be good for your mental health, but also your physical health?
That’s right; the benefits are just amazing! Journaling has been shown to strengthen immune cells. It can decrease the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. And journaling has actually been shown to heal injuries faster. It is true! According to one study, personal journaling can predict an astonishing 53% reduction in all-cause dementia risk!
So let me ask you again. Are you up for the challenge of doing the ‘Write’ thing? I hope you are raising your hand and yelling out ‘You bet, Sister, count me in!’
If one of your excuses for not journaling is that you don’t know where to start or what to say, then stick with me, Girlfriend, and I will show you the way.
Although I have been regularly writing in my journal for decades. And believe me, the journey hasn’t always been straight forward or smooth.
For quite a long while I adopted Julia Cameron’s philosophy of ‘morning pages’ as a means of journaling. In her book, The Artist’s Way, she encourages the ‘wanna be’ artists to fill up three pages in their journal each day. She suggests just writing down whatever comes to you…any random thoughts and ideas. A kind of ‘cleaning out the cobwebs’ process.
I have a stack full of journals that include my three pages of random thoughts from my messy mind. I found that although Cameron’s method did help to clean out the rubbish from my brain bin, it did not seem to better prepare me for my ‘real project’; personal growth.
So, when I came across this quote by Tony Robbins, I had a light bulb moment.
““The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of questions you are asking yourself.”
That was it…I would design my journaling strategy around using quality questions!
After all, what I ultimately hoped to gain from journaling was a means of growth, of expansion, and of becoming a better me.
Thus, I began to ask myself quality questions each day. I decided to refer to keeping my journal as doing the ‘Write Thing’.
So let me explain how you can do the ‘write thing’.
I find a cozy spot, bring my cup of coffee and start by writing out the date and this sentence on the top of the page: Today is going to be a great day! Then I say it out loud…like I mean it!
I created the acronym ‘I LAUGH MORE’ to help organize my writing.
I- Intention- What is my Intention for this day?
What do you want? Many of us don’t give much thought to what we want. We should be asking ourselves this question each day; What do I want? What will make today a great day? Write it down.
And after clarifying your intention for the day, then ask yourself, “What can I do to support my intention? What can I do to make it a great day?”
If we want more success on our goals, ambitions and dreams, having clear intentions is critical.
L- Learning –What am I learning about that I want to remember?
“When you stop learning you start dying”. This quote by Albert Einstein is a great reminder for all of us to stay Life Long Learners so we can live long fulfilling lives.
Are you reading a non-fiction book, taking a class, traveling, or getting ready to launch a new idea? If we repeat what we want to learn we have a better chance of remembering it.
Research has found that if you write something by hand, all that complex sensory information increases the chances the knowledge will be stored for later.
What am I learning and why is it important to me?
A- Action – What action will I take with the information I am learning?
We have all heard that knowledge is power, but it's really only true power when you take action and actually apply what we've learned.
So, our next question is: How will I apply the information I am learning. What action will I take? Like this article for example….you have to not only read about doing the ‘write thing’ you have to do it!
U- Undone - What is something that I have put off doing?
Is there a chore that remains undone? You know, that thing that saps your energy every time you think about it. Or perhaps it’s that tear in your heart that you haven’t taken steps to mend. Is there someone you haven’t forgiven? A conflict you haven’t resolved? Is there burden that you need to let go of and be done with…like the stories you tell of your past that don’t serve you?
I used to clutter up this part of my journal with a ‘to do’ list of the things that I wanted to get done that day like buy a gift for my sister, go to the grocery store, sign the grandkids up for the art class. I finally got myself a note pad that I keep beside me to remind me of those kinds of tasks. I call it ‘Today’s to-do’s’.
G- Gratitude and Grace – What am I grateful for? Who needs my prayers?
Here are just a few of the many benefits of expressing your gratitude
What am I grateful for today? Don’t just write it…feel it. (include big and small things)
Grace - Who needs my prayers today?
(I choose 3 people: a loved one, an acquaintance, someone I don’t like)
Clearly visualize them receiving your gifts of prayer and grace.
H- Health – What will I do today to support my becoming a healthier me?
Think small steps. How can I become 1% healthier, do one more thing?
I find that being intentional in this area is super important. Eat the rainbow today, walk one more block, 10 minutes of meditation, drink 8 glasses of water, order my vitamins, Make an appointment for my yearly cheTck-up.
Having good health is not the end of the journey; it’s the vehicle that will get us to where we want to be.
M- Marvel at your mate. What is something my mate did recently that reminds you me how marvelous he/she is?
What we focus on we will see more of. The more I look for the good, the more good I will see.
I think of all the questions I decided to ask each day, this one made an immediate difference. Such a beautiful way to start out my day is to remember what a great partner I have.
What can I do or say today to support my mate? Is it a compliment I should give, an act that I should do or simply being kind, giving a hug and a thank you?
O- Others- What other person in my life do I want to reach out to?
More than 100 years' worth of research shows that having a healthy social life is incredibly important to staying healthy in mind, body and spirit.
The quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our relationships.
What will you today to enhance the quality of an important relationship in your life? Who will I contact today (text, email, call or see)? Is there someone who I feel called to reach out to?
R- Review and Reflect – What went well yesterday?
Think of three things.
What did I do yesterday that was fun, fulfilling or loving?
How did that make me feel? What do I regret not having done?
Is there anything I can do today to fix or repair any regrets I have?
E- Exemplify: What can I do today to serve as an example to others?
I have my vision board in front of me as I write this article. There is a picture of a woman walking with a strong posture, using big strides with her shoulders out. Below her it says, “Walk like everyone’s watching.
If everyone is watching you, what would you like them to see?
I Laugh More – What made me laugh?
Having this question ‘what made me laugh’ before me each day reminds me to search out more reasons to laugh….I want to giggle more and let my laughter become louder and more frequent.
I recently wrote an article on putting more laughter in our lives. Like so many things in our life, just being more aware of them can be a catalyst for change.
I hope I persuaded you to take on the journaling challenge and do the ‘Write Thing’.
Like all habits we want to develop, we want to make them our own. It is best if we tweak the steps to suit our personal preference. So, pick and choose the questions that most resonate with you. You may decide to create your own list.
Please feel free to download my journal page format to get you started.
What Made You Laugh Today?
When my husband and have meals with our grandchildren, we often have a favorite game we play at the dinner table. We call it ‘the mad, sad, glad’ game. I highly recommend it.
The rules are quite simple. We begin by going around the table and each person has a chance to tell us about something that made them mad that day. When one person is talking, the others are just expected to listen and encourage one another.
Next, we each take a turn sharing about what made us sad that day, and then what made us glad.
I am always surprised to see how this simple game allows not only the children; but also, their moms and dads to have a chance to open up about something they wouldn’t normally talk about with the kids.
We recently added some more things to our game: “What did you learn today and what made you laugh today?”
I remember the first time we did the ‘laugh’ part. When it was my turn to share, I paused and asked, “Can it be something that made me smile today?”
“Nope,” my 6-year-old granddaughter quickly retorted, “It has to be something that made you laugh, Grandma!”
“Hmm…” I paused, “I can’t really think of anything that made me laugh today. Can I have more time to think about it?”
Our 10-year-old jumped to my rescue… “Here’s an idea, Grandma. You can say, ‘What made me sad today was when I couldn’t think of anything that made me laugh.’”
Pay Attention to Life
It seems my grandkids often remind me to pay more attention to my life; like the fact I wasn’t laughing as much these days.
Have you heard of statistics that say children laugh about 400 times a day and adults about 15 times a day? Have you ever wondered why that is?
At what point in our maturation period did we decide to drop the other 385 laughs? It must have been during puberty… or maybe for us women, it was at childbirth. (That’ll take the grin right off your face.)
Come to think of it; it must have been when all four of my kids turned into teenagers!
I guess when my doctor reported my bone scan showed I was losing bone mass, I should have asked him if that loss was also occurring in my funny bones?
I found myself pondering this question:
Is Laughter a Big Deal?
Since I am often in search of finding out about things that might make me happier, healthier, and more fulfilled, I decided this question would be a worthwhile research project.
Can laughter play a role in improving not only our attitudes, but also our health?
So, what do you think? Is getting your laughs in each day all that important?
Norman Cousins thought so. It was over 40 years when he called attention to his experience with laughter as a cure. Cousins famously chronicled the effects of his self-prescribed “laughing cure” in his book Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient.
Cousins, who suffered from inflammatory arthritis, claimed that just 10 minutes of hearty laughing while viewing Marx Brothers movies brought him two hours of pain-free sleep – and that both his inflammation and pain were significantly reduced. His laughter caused the body to produce its own natural painkillers.
What Does New Research Tell Us About Laughter?
Cousins was on to something! In the last seven years there has been many new scientific studies that support the benefits of laughter in our lives.
Laughter Benefits Our Physical Health!
Laughter Is Good for the Heart
A recent study of 20,934 individuals, aged 65 years or older, showed that laughter had a profound impact on their health and well-being. Persons who reported rarely or almost never laughing experienced a 21% higher prevalence of heart disease than those who reported laughing every day.
The same startling result was true for the prevalence of stroke: 60% higher among the non-laughers than among those who reported a daily dose of laughter.
Are you serious?? I need to watch more Johnny Carson reruns!
So when we read in proverbs that laughter ‘maketh our heart merry’ it is not only a nice adage but also a scientific fact! Laughter, I learned, improves our blood pressure. It enhances our intake of oxygen-rich air, which not only stimulates our heart, but also our lungs and muscles.
Laughter Leads to Greater Resistance to Disease
When negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions, they can affect your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. By contrast, positive and humorous thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
Laughter Helps with Insomnia
One more reason not to go to sleep watching the evening news.
Laughter Helps with Pain
Laughter alleviates pain which supports Norman Cousins earlier claims.
Laughter Benefits Our Mental Health:
Laughter increases health-enhancing hormones (such as endorphins), neurotransmitters, and infection-fighting antibodies.
Laughter reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine; Currently, research is indicating that the physical act of laughing, even without humor, is linked to chemical changes in the body that potentially reduce stress and increase pain tolerance.
Laughter Helps with Depression and Anxiety
Laughter improves our mood. It gives us a more positive mindset and overall outlook on life.
Laughter Even Sharpens Your Mind!
Although you may not think of the funny pages as intellectually stimulating, laughter sharpens your mind. So, put more humorous books on your list of fun activities. Erma Bombeck is one of my favorite authors for finding humor in everyday life.
Laughter Benefits Our Social Life
Laughter Helps Us Connect with Other People
Laughter improves communication. Communication can sometimes be awkward . Even for those of us who share the same language. But laughter can transcend language and strengthen playful communication.
Sets the Mood for Romance
Although most of us focus on being physically attractive to find that man, but laughter can be a real turn on. Unless of course your laugh sounds like Lily Tomlin’s snort.
Laughter is great at fostering emotional connection. And it gets to the core of deeply felt emotions too.
Laughter makes you more approachable. Who doesn’t like to be around someone with a good sense of humor?
Laughter Is the Best Medicine
It appears that laughter really is the best medicine. It can improve our mental health, our physical health and our social lives.
And finally; laughter makes you feel younger; in fact, it’s been revealed that humor can actually be the key to living longer.
And this powerful tool in our toolbox for healthier living is also fun and free! Plus, you can get it without a prescription, and no negative side effects.
Knowing all this, why in the world wouldn’t I do more to seek out this medicine to improve my health, and my happiness? And why wouldn’t you?
‘More Laughter in My Life’ Challenge
Here’s my 5-step plan:
I found this quote and I am going to post it on my refrigerator.
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”—Nicholas Chamfort
I will do a laughter assessment and ask myself at the end of each day: What made me laugh today?
Write down my responses and take notice of how much better I felt after a good laugh.
Be open for more opportunities to find something to laugh about. Take laughter yoga, for example. (Yes, this is actually a thing.) Not only do you get to practice your laughter… you get to do it with friends.
At the end of the month look for commonalities, aha-s and new ideas for bringing more laughter in my life.
Let’s Have a Conversation:
So, what made you laugh today? What gives you the giggles, or better yet, what causes you to bust out into a good old belly laugh? Have you had ‘laughter-healing experiences’ in your life?