Starting a Gratitude Journal

Having a sense of gratitude is important. You don’t need a special holiday, like Thanksgiving, to feel gratitude for the good things in your life. Instead, you can cultivate that emotion all year long by starting a gratitude journal.

Choose your journal

The first step in starting a gratitude journal is to choose a journal. You can choose a physical journal from your local stationery store, or you can choose to use a digital journal – or even a blog. You’ll want to choose something that makes you look forward to filling it with words each day. 

Make time to write

it’s important to be consistent and build the journaling habit. Especially at first, schedule some time to write in your journal consistently – even if all you’re writing is a paragraph. Even if you’re unable to start with daily gratitude journaling, carving time out consistently will help you feel the benefits. 

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Consider using prompts

When you’re getting started with your gratitude journal, you might not know what to write about. There are some great websites out there with prompts for your journal like the ones from Positively Present, Positive Psychology Program, and Develop Good Habits.

If you get stuck

If you find yourself getting stuck, start thinking of what your life would be without certain things. Sometimes that can help us to see what blessings we really have. If you’re getting stuck on a regular basis, and prompts and flipping your thinking don’t work, you may want to journal less frequently (but still consistently). Something else that may help is going back and reading what you’ve already written.

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect

Give yourself the permission to write what comes to mind. You’re not writing for an audience, you’re writing for yourself. It’s okay if what you put down on paper isn’t perfect, what’s important is that you’re getting it out and down on paper so that you can reflect upon it.

Embrace mindfullness

As you journal, you’ll find that you have more gratitude each day, and that your general mood changes to be more positive. If you’re having a rough day, return to that space of gratitude – either in your thoughts or by reading through passages in your journal. Cultivating a disposition of gratitude can help boost your mood in the long-term.

What is something you are grateful for?

Share, if you would like, in our comments. We’d love to hear what you’re grateful for.

How to Set New Year’s Goals You Can Reach

It’s New Year’s Eve, and that means that millions out there are setting their resolutions and goals for the next year. If you could ensure that next year you’d hit those goals you set today, that would be great, right? Here’s how you can set goals that you’re more likely to stick with for January and beyond.

Choose a Word of the Year

Many people are choosing a “word of the year” to help set a tone for the coming year. Think about what you want to accomplish in the next 365 days. Is there an overarching theme? For some, choosing a word of the year will be easier than it will be for others. Some suggestions are “Surpass,” “Intention,” “Courage,” “Focus,” and “Prosperity.”

Write It Down

When you write things down, you’ll be much more likely to make them happen. That’s not the only benefit of writing your goals down. By writing them down, you can start to work on them to make them actionable so that you can crush them this next year.

Create SMART Goals

Your goals should be SMART. No, that doesn’t mean that there are stupid goals, just poorly written goals. SMART goals are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

The reason you want to do this is that it makes your goals easier to act on. Rather than saying “I’m going to make more next year,” if instead you say something like “I will make an extra $amount each month by doing x, y, and z.”

This alternative phrasing gives you a clear path to what your actions for the goal ought to be.

Find an Accountability Partner

By finding someone to check in with on your goals, you will be more likely to succeed. Meet on a regular basis – whether in person, or online, or by phone, to go over what you hope to accomplish for the week toward your goal and check in again later in the week to go over what each of you accomplished. This is a great way to make steady progress throughout the year.

Don’t Let Setbacks Derail You

If you experience a temporary setback on the path to your goal, don’t let it derail your efforts. Just reset, adjust, reframe your goal if necessary, and continue with your next step. One thing is certain, we all will experience setbacks of one sort or another. How we handle those setbacks is what helps determine our character and whether we will reach the goals we set out to reach.

What goals do you want to reach this year?

Share your New Years goals in the comments.

Happy Holidays from Equanimity Magazine

We are in the final ten days of the year, and we’d like to take a moment to wish our readers the happiest of holidays during this season. 

We’re looking forward to bringing you more interviews with inspiring individuals, news of great events, charity highlights, tips for balancing your life, and much more in 2019. Right now, I’d like to ask you, what would you like to see on our blog in the coming year? Please post your thoughts in the comments, and if you or someone you know would be a great fit for our featured people category, get in touch with our team.

EQTmag’s Most Popular Posts in 2018

Before you go, please check out some of our most popular posts from 2018:

What has been your favorite story to follow on our blog in 2018?

Be sure to share what you want to see more of in the comments, but also let us know: What has been your favorite post so far this year? We want to hear your feedback, so we can bring you more of what you love in the coming year!

Thank you for reading, and a special thanks to all of those we have interviewed in the past year.

 

How to Keep Up with Style Trends

Fashion can be a lot of fun, and keeping up with fashion trends is important, even if you’re not in the media or an instagram star. You don’t have to go all-out when looking to be on-trend. Instead, you can follow these tips to help you keep up with style trends.

Follow influential fashion bloggers and Instagram feeds

It used to be that you needed subscriptions to fashion magazines to know what was “on trend for a given season. Now, there are many talented fashion bloggers that you can follow, including bloggers who represent a lot of diversity when it comes to the fashion landscape. Start with a list of recommended fashion and style bloggers, and whittle your feed down to those who resonate most with your own style tastes.

Keep a “swipe” file of fashion inspiration

When you see outfits you like, you can pin them to Pinterest, or you can copy and paste them into a word processing document, OneNote notebook, or Evernote notebook. You can even do things the way I did them back when I was modeling and keeping a file of inspired looks for photo shoots and clip them and put them into folders based on occasions. Some people create a fashion notebook with images they like pasted into a spiral bound notebook.

Invest in quality, well-tailored basics

Nothing is more fashionable or flattering than clothing with a good fit. In fact, no matter what size you are, fit can make or break your outfit. Great fit is comfortable, clothing won’t wrinkle in awkward places, and you get a confidence boost. It’s better to have a few quality pieces that you’ve had tailored to fit your body than a closet filled with clothing that only sort of fits. Once you feel and see the difference, you won’t want to go back to the old way of doing things.

Consider on-trend accessories if you’re on a tight budget

I don’t have a big budget when it comes to fashion. When I want to add a style trend into my wardrobe, I will often do it with a scarf or purse. Sometimes I might go for a really cute top that I can use layered with other pieces in my wardrobe. When you have a closet with quality basics, adding a trend piece here and there can not only spruce up your wardrobe for a new season, but it can help keep you looking trendy without breaking your budget.

Shop around for trendy items

While your basics most definitely should be the best quality you can afford, you can shop around for your pieces that incorporate trends into your wardrobe. There’s one caveat to this: If you buy an item that is trendy that doesn’t fit you well, spend the little bit extra to have it tailored. Remember, when you’re looking to achieve that “put together” look, fit is everything.

What do you do to keep up with style trends?

Share your favorite tips in the comments.

How to Find a Hobby You Love

One of the most common complaints I see among women, particularly busy women, is that they don’t have a hobby and don’t know what to do in order to find a hobby. There are a lot of benefits to having a hobby.

Jaime L. Kurtz, in “Six Reasons to Get a Hobby,” published by Psychology Today, cites hobbies as another disappearing relic akin to the decline in civic engagement noted by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone. He writes:

Various things contribute to this, but for many of us, being legitimately busy simply isn’t one of them. Instead, we habitually waste time, creating the illusion of busyness. Facebook, email, Netflix – pick your poison. If you’re like me, you don’t wake up in the morning with the goal of squandering so many precious moments on social media, but it often happens, and this is unaccounted for time that can be better spent elsewhere.

As Kurtz writes in his article, there are many good reasons to find a hobby. Here are some tips for finding a hobby you love.

1. Look back at your childhood.

What did you enjoy doing as a kid? Did you like building model airplanes? Did you like drawing and painting? Did you get a kick out of school projects involving gardening? Sometimes our childhood can give us good ideas for the types of things we might enjoy in our free time in adulthood.

2. Look at your local recreation center’s class list.

Is there a gardening class available? Can you learn to paint? Is there a class for cooking an ethnic cuisine? Sign up. Classes through local rec centers tend to not be as expensive as courses through other venues, and they can give you a good taste of a variety of potential hobbies.

3. Head to your local library for ideas.

Libraries aren’t just for research or making progress on your reading list. Many libraries now have classes for learning hobbies, things like sewing machines you can check out, and club meetings. You’ll also find a treasure trove of books covering the basics of any hobby you might want to learn.

4. Check out your local coffee shop’s upcoming events.

Many coffee shops (and breweries and bars) now host board game nights, coloring nights, and trivia nights. Check out the list of events coming up for your favorite spot. You might find that heading to one of their special themedSonights leads to a hobby you love.

5. Ask your friends what they do as hobbies.

Friends can be a great resource for discovering new hobbies. From planning to scrapbooking, from journaling to sewing, there really are as many different hobbies as there are people enjoying them. You’ll find many ideas just by tossing the idea out on social media or asking your social circle on your next get together.

Check out the comments section

So, what do you do for a hobby? Share your favorite hobbies in the comments so that our other readers can get some ideas.

3 Reasons Funny Videos Aren’t a Waste of Time

It’s been long thought that one of the biggest time drains out there is the “funny cat video.” If you want to waste time, they say, get pulled into watching funny videos on YouTube or in your Facebook feed. While funny videos can be a time drain if you don’t monitor yourself carefully, here are three reasons that funny videos are not a waste of time.

1. Watching funny videos gives you downtime

We’re busier than ever these days. By taking some time out to laugh, you’re really doing yourself a favor in the long run. It’s important to take breaks from working so that you can refresh your brain and be more productive. In fact, many productivity experts recommend the Pomodoro technique, which has you working 25 minutes and then taking a 5 minute break.

2. Laughter does good things for our bodies.

It’s good for us to laugh. Laughing alleviates stress, and goes a long way toward helping improve our immune systems and helping to alleviate pain. Just a little bit of laughter can also help pick up your mood and make you feel happier. What better reasons to watch a silly video are there than having improved physical and mental health?

3. Funny videos make us more social.

When you watch a funny video and then share it, you’re helping those around you to be happier, but you’re also creating a point of conversation for yourself and those around you. Go ahead, share those things that made you laugh, not only on social media, but through email or even by pulling the video up for a good friend who could use a laugh in your presence.

Go ahead, make us laugh.

What are your favorite funny videos? Do you like cat videos? Do you enjoy a particular Facebook Live stream? Share your favorites with us, and you might be mentioned in a future article rounding up some of the best funny videos we’ve seen.

Why You Need to Schedule Free Time for Yourself

It’s important to take time for yourself. We’re often told this, but we hardly ever follow this advice. One of the questions that I always ask the people I interview for Equanimity Magazine is, “What do you do to maintain balance in your life?” It’s so easy to get caught up in doing a lot of work, but it’s so important to take time to get away from that work. What I’ve noticed is that every person has said that they take time for the things that are really important, vital time that helps them to refill the well from which they draw to do great things.

Creating time for yourself is often easier said than done, though. It’s one thing to say “I’m going to really do something for myself this week.” It’s another thing to actually do it. When you schedule that time, as boring as it may sound, you’re making an appointment with yourself to focus on refilling your well.

Finding Time for Downtime

Both author Stephen Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleJulie Morgenstern of Time Management from the Inside Out and talk about figuring out how you’re spending your time before you take time to figure out how you’re going to spend your time. Thus, you’re going to want to create a time map.

For a week, record what time you wake up, and then in fifteen-minute increments, record what you were doing until you go to sleep. You may be surprised at how many pockets of time you really do have for taking care of your own well-being. How much time was squandered on unimportant and inessential tasks? Did you find that you have more time than you thought? Most of us do. That’s great.

Determining What You Will Do to Relax

Once you’ve found the time that you will spend following leisurely pursuits, it’s time to figure out what you will do to relax. While you may already have an idea – getting to that novel you’ve been wanting to read, heading to a spa for a massage, or working in time to focus on your health through working out – you might not know what to do. If you don’t know what you will do with the time you found, you’re more likely to squander it.

Think back to childhood. What sorts of things did you enjoy? What sorts of things did you want to try out? That could be a starting point. What things do your friends do? Is there a sport or a craft you’d like to try out? A new art gallery opening? Sometimes, I like to peruse Facebook events for my city. Often, I’ll come up with some ideas for activities that way.

Put It on the Calendar

Once you’ve determined where you have time and what you will do with that time, there’s one more step that you need to take. You need to put it on the calendar. This helps to ensure you don’t reallocate that time to something else, and you’ll be more likely to follow through with your plans. It’s important to make sure you’re taking time for you every day.

What will you do when you schedule time for yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

9 Reasons Why Traveling is Good for Your Soul

Traveling is an important part of life. Not only is it nice to see different things, but it can actually be good for us. Too often, we put traveling off for other pursuits. Here are ten reasons why you should make travel a higher priority on your list.

1. Traveling helps get you out of your routine

It’s so easy to fall into a rut when you do the same thing again and again. When you travel, you’re forced out of that routine. Not only is this good for helping you to avoid burnout, but it’s also good in that it helps you to see things from a different perspective.

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2. Travel stimulates your brain

When you leave your familiar surroundings and check out what else is going on around you, it helps to add to your intelligence and resilience. When traveling, you’re being exposed to new experiences and different environments. Because of this, traveling can help improve both your concentration and your memory.

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3. Travel helps open your mind

When you travel, you get to meet a variety of new people and experience different cultures. This is great for your soul because not only does it help you to relate better to a large variety of people, but it also helps you be more open in the future to a range of new experiences and acquaintances.

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4. Travel can make you more creative

When you’re jostled out of your routine and your surroundings, your brain is unfettered by the things that might otherwise hold it back from creativity. You’re literally outside of your box. This can make for a great benefit for those who are longing for more creativity in their careers.

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5. Traveling is good for your heart

It turns out that traveling has a positive impact on heart health. Those who travel lots tend to live longer. Part of the reasoning for this is those who travel tend to be more active and tend to be exposed to various environments, which helps one to build a healthier immune response.

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6. Travel helps you to alleviate stress

Life can be stressful, especially when we’re spending more time than ever working. By taking time to travel, it helps you to get out of the mentality that things have to be done a certain way or on a certain timeline. This can go a long way toward helping to stave off depression and other unwanted side-effects of stress.

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7. Travel can help you meet new people

One of the best parts of traveling is meeting a variety of people in the new places you go. Because you’re out of place, you need to rely upon strangers for recommendations for places to eat and things to see – and even sometimes translating the language so that you can understand what’s being said. This can help you form life-long friendships.

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8. Travel can help you find love

Not only can you meet new people while traveling, but you may meet the love of your life. Even if the person isn’t your partner for life, a holiday romance can go a long way toward boosting your long-term happiness – plus think of the great story you’ll have to tell when you return home.

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9. Travel can help you love yourself

You don’t have to connect with others to have a mood boost. Navigating a new place on your own can help you develop greater self-confidence. By having new experiences out in a different place, you’re adding to your worldliness. Taking the time to go to new places can go a long way toward helping you to discover your true love – yourself.

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Where will you travel?

When is your next trip? Where would you love to go? Share your thoughts in the comments.

7 Budget-Friendly Tips for Updating a Transitional Wardrobe

Sometimes, life calls for “transitional wardrobes.” These are wardrobes meant to only cover a short time-span, since the wearer is still in the process of losing weight, pregnant, postpartum, or even putting on weight to achieve a healthier lifestyle. For many, the temptation is to resort to wearing ill-fitting clothing, sweatpants, old-t-shirts and other less-than-stylish items. That can really create a barrier when you’re trying to feel good about yourself on a daily basis.

1. Shop your closet

Try on each item you own. Is it too small, too large, too short? Do you love the fabric? The style? If you were in a store right now, would you buy it as it is? Corral all of the pieces you would purchase again that fit well. Those will be the pieces you work around. Donate or resell anything that is ill-fitting beyond tailoring, in a fabric you hate, or that you never wore when it did fit.

2. “Upcycle” old favorites

If you have a piece you love that you don’t want to part with, you may be able to turn it into something else that will fit you much better. If you’re handy, you may be able to create a completely new item. If you have a dress you love where the top no longer fits you but the bottom does, consider cutting the bodice off and creating a new waistband. If you’re not handy, but have a friend who is, you may be able to pay her to do this for you.

3. Add a good tailor to your contacts list

If you’ve only changed sizes by one or two sizes, the item is well-made, and you’re going down in size, a good tailor can help fix the fit. Some tailors can also let out waistbands and hips in items. This can be a good way to save what you already have and adapt it to your changing body.

4. Make a shopping list of basics

Don’t go for fads. Right now, you’ll want basics that can work with what you’ve kept and that will have a good resale value. Hold off on the pineapple print jeans just yet. Save trends for when you’re no longer in a transitional stage of life – or keep trends to shoes, handbags, scarves, and other accessories.

5. Go treasure hunting

There are a lot of great second-hand options these days. Look at garage sales, thrift stores, online resale shops, and even Facebook. Many local groups allow selling of unneeded items, and you can get great deals that way.

6. Don’t pay full price unless you can resell it

When you’re purchasing items new and at full price, be sure you can pass it along to someone else. There are lots of ways to do that, including using Ebay, second-hand sites like ThreadUp and TheRealReal, and those Facebook groups I just mentioned.

7. Do not settle for leggings!

Seriously! You don’t have to, unless, of course, that’s your thing. Then, rock it!

 

Getting Things Done When You Don’t Want To Do Anything

It’s not always easy to get things done. Sometimes, there appear to be competing priorities, sometimes, it feels like motivation just got up and left the room. Other times, there just isn’t a whole lot of time for getting things done, and when you finally have a moment to sit down, the last thing you want to do is be productive. Sometimes, anxiety or depression may get in the way. Despite all that, things still need to get done. Here’s how to go about doing it.

Be very clear about your priorities

It’s hard to get started if it feels like everything is important. If you’re stuck and can’t get going, quickly jot down your big priorities. Be honest about what’s most important to you, what’s the next-most important, etc. It may be helpful to draw an Important-Urgent matrix. Grab a piece of paper and draw a large plus sign. The top half of the plus  will be your “Important” half. The bottom half will be “not important.” The right side will be “urgent” and the left side will be not urgent. Starting in the upper left “box” made by the sign and going left to right, top to bottom, you have:

  • Quadrant 1 (Q1): Important and Urgent
  • Quadrant 2 (Q2): Important and Not Urgent
  • Quadrant 3 (Q3): Not Important and Urgent
  • Quadrant 4 (Q4): Not Important and Not Urgent

Everything that you think you need to do falls into one of those boxes. Ideally, you’ll work mostly from Q2, but if you’ve fallen behind, you may have a lot of fires to put out in Q1. Delegate anything you can in Q3. Reconsider whether anything in Q4 is indeed something you should do or if you can scrap those items (or at least put them onto a “someday-maybe” list.

Make a list of everything your brain is holding onto

Sometimes we can’t get started because we’ve got entirely too many things sitting around in our brain. We’re trying to remember the Girl Scouts meeting and the board meeting and the grant and the article we promised and that thing that we said we’d do for that good friend. Get it all written down and out of your brain. You’ll feel like someone took a huge load off just by doing that.

Make an “already done” list

Sometimes, something that helps me is if I start making a list of the things I’ve done rather than a list of the things I need to do. When I see how much I’ve accomplished, it pushes me to continue on. Of course, that won’t necessarily help if you’re having a hard time getting started in the first place, but even accounting for previous days’ accomplishments can be the spur you need to get going.

Get accountable

Find a way to keep yourself accountable. I have a dear friend I work with to keep accountable. We go over our lists of things we want to get done on a regular basis then check in with each other to see how that’s going. An accountability partner can be a great asset.

It can also be helpful to post on social media: “I’m going to work on my project today,” or “I’m going to make sure I exercise today.” When you do such a thing, you’re more likely to be pushed into action to get things done because, well, you don’t want to tell your friends or followers that you didn’t do what you said you’d do.

Do something leisurely, but set a timer

Sometimes, burnout is what’s at work when you’re having a hard time getting going. If you can, set a timer for even just 10 – 15 minutes and do an activity you enjoy – whether that’s reading a book or magazine article, checking out your favorite blog, or playing a fun computer game. Sometimes tuning out and temporarily giving into the urge to procrastinate is just the push you need. Be careful though, make sure you stop when the timer goes off.

Play this productivity game

When I don’t know how to get started, I have a trick up my sleeve. I play a little game. I write down the things I have to get done and a few things I want to get done. I keep a bunch of legal notepads around for this purpose. I number the items and put stars next to anything that’s a priority. If the priority items aren’t at the top, I move them to the top of the list and rewrite it in a second column. Then, I use a random number generator to select a number between 1 and the number of items on my list + the number of items with a star. I then complete the task that’s next to that number for 10 minutes. If I don’t finish in 10 minutes, I put a check mark. If I finish, I cross it out, and if that number is selected again, I skip to the top of the list and complete the first item on the list that has not been completed.

By gamifying what I need to do, it can really help on those days when I’m feeling frazzled or mentally drained but still really need to get things done.

Start a streak

This piece of advice has been around for a little bit, but to be honest, I myself didn’t really make a whole lot of use of it until recently. In June, it was my goal to get my email inbox to 0 every single day. Now, that’s a habit. I no longer wind up having email pile up so much that I have to dig through in order to find that really important one that needed to be responded to yesterday. For July, I started a run streak where I run/walk at least a minimum distance every single day. I’m on day 23, and I’m pretty sure that I’m going to continue it as long as I can. There’s power in not wanting to break a streak.

What do you do when you need to get things done but you’re having a hard time getting started?

Share your tips in the comments!