I had a rough day at work today due to a conflict with a coworker. I left work really worked up and upset. When I got home I wanted to just sit on the couch with a glass of wine and veg out in order to let go of that emotional turmoil from work.
But then I thought about this 21 Day Fix program I am doing and how I’m only on Day 8. And the thought of quitting and not making it to day 21 got my competitive juices revving, so I got up and forced myself to do the workout. Now that I’m done, I definitely feel better, but I still couldn’t get the issues from the day at work out of my mind. So I spent a few minutes reflecting on why I was so upset. And this led my mind to remember a situation from over 10 years ago when I also had an issue with a co-worker. I remembered that I had been reading a book back then that helped me deal with that issue. So I went to the bookshelf and pulled out the book.
The book is “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle. One of the big ideas from the book is the issue of our egos which is our identification with ourselves or as he puts it “the illusory sense of self” (p.27). He goes on to talk about how that voice in our head is what we identify with as who we are, which includes the “incessant steam of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it” (p. 59). His claim is that we have to be aware of this thinking and not be “unconscious” in order to awaken to our life’s purpose.
The section that I needed today was on Complaining and Resentment. Tolle says, “Every complaint is a little story the mind makes up that you completely believe in” (p. 61). When this complaining has to do with other people, you then apply negative labels to them, which is your ego’s need to be right. Resentment is the emotion that goes along with complaining. The same is true coming from the person you are in conflict with and you therefore see their ego as their identity. He says non-reaction to the ego in others is one of the most effective ways of going beyond the ego in yourself and recognizing someone’s behavior as coming from the ego. When this happens you realize that it’s not personal and your compulsion to react will no longer be there. Another person will “become an enemy if you personalize the unconsciousness that is the ego” (p. 63).
Rereading this section of the book, helped me get over the conflict of the day and let go of my personal feelings. I was able to step back and realize that it’s not me, that it is the co-workers ego. And now I’m not going to waste another minute of my life dwelling on it.
I guess the overall message in this post that I’m hoping to convey is that a huge part of living a happy, healthy and active life is that inward personal development. I don’t think very many people ever truly master that inner junk, but you have to keep working on it and not giving up on it just the same as you do for the physical stuff.
I have kept a daily journal consistently since 2006. Each year I buy a planner/calendar and record stuff. What I record has varied over the years: workouts, calorie counts, water and alcohol consumption, books read, or I just wrote about feelings and events like you would in a diary. Some years I have been really consistent in writing or recording every day and some years I haven’t done as well.
I recently spent some time going back through my journals and I was able to pull some data from them. Looking over the yearly data I was able to identify patterns. Every year for the past 11 years, January has been my most consistent month for working out as well as the hardest month for me at work. 2012 was my best year of working out and the last two years (15 & 16) have been two of my three worst years for working out.
In my last post I mentioned an article about 18 Habits of Highly Successful People and interestingly enough, habit #2 is journaling. This article cites research that says a recent study showed that journaling about thoughts and feelings helped college students deal with stressful situations. Personally I feel that journaling is like venting. I often feel better after getting my thoughts and emotions out on paper. After journaling, I can then let those feelings go and move on to other things.
If you Google “journaling” tons of great resources will come up. I found an article The Health Benefits of Journaling that also cites research that shows health benefits from journaling such as strengthening immune cells and decreasing symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Also in this day and age, there are TONS of unique and cool journals that you can buy to make journal easier and more fun. While I just use a regular At-a-Glance Monthly/Weekly planner from Staples, I have family members who use Start Planners or Erin Condren Planners. Or you could do something with a word processing program like GoogleDocs or Microsoft Word. There really is something for everybody out there. And I’m sure there are even journal apps available!
So if you’ve never tried journaling, I highly recommend it! I have found that it can actually be kind of addictive to want to write down good things every day!
The end of a year and the beginning of a new one is always a good time of year for me. I often spend a lot of time reflecting on the year that is ending and setting goals and making plans for the new year ahead. The fact that my birthday is just a few days before the new year also helps me reflect as I face turning another year older.
2016 was not a great year for me regarding fitness and health. I dealt with several health issues including hormonal issues (aka early menopause), early stage cancer cells that needed to be surgically removed, acid reflux problems, and depression. With fitness, I only worked out 122 days of the year. This was better than the 87 days I worked out in 2015, but I also blew out my ACL in 2015, so this past year should have been better than it was. I also only read 12 books in 2016. I also had my first experience with the “empty nest” syndrome as 2 of my 3 kids were off at college and the high schooler left at home required little of me. Having been a mom since I was 20 years old, I’ve now been struggling with what to do with my free time, which is compounded by depression and being unhappy in my job.
So, as this new year approaches I have several plans/goals:
- take classes to learn new skills for a future career change
- use mindfulness strategies to help me cope with work
- spend time developing hobbies instead of doing mindless, time-sucking stuff on technology (games like candy crush & social media)
- do something active every day
- eat less processed foods
- read 30 books
- blog 3 times a week or more
So there it is…in writing and on the Internet. All goals worthy of my big life goal of living an active and healthy lifestyle! Happy New Year!