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7 habits of positively impactful people

It’s time for one of those lists of things to do to improve how we present ourselves and are perceived by others.

Why?

Because it’s March. It’s the quickening month. Famous for gusty winds and the restless stirrings of new life.

For me, it’s typically an agitated time, probably for the reasons above.

So I thought I’d anchor things in a list.

Here’s how to have a positive impact:

  1. Know who you really are
  2. Be your own best friend
  3. Be curious
  4. Be consistent
  5. Be intentional
  6. Know that a complaint is always a failed request
  7. Look for the best in others

The truth is that we are each an incidence of embodied consciousness, which means that we each have access to infinite wisdom and potential  – as well as the opportunity to feel and experience the physical world. So we are doubly blessed! The great teacher Yogi Bhajan reminds us that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and whilst our human experience is mortal, our spiritual existence is eternal. It’s a useful perspective – and it helps to calm down and treat ourselves and others with greater kindness.

And that is important. We all learn from a  very young age to be kind to others. But we frequently don’t learn to show ourselves the same kindness. When we’re having a bad day we can become vituperative self-critics. If we were to imagine that the way we sometimes speak to ourselves is actually being directed at another we would be horrified. Paying attention to our own inner critic in order to censor it rather than be censored by it is an important habit.

So is curiosity. It’s the single most useful trait that has got me out of many a social hole. The reason is that I have long understood people love to talk about themselves and their experience, so I’ve learned to ask questions. Now there is no need not to be able to strike up a conversation – and leave a positive impression with most of the people I meet.

In contrast consistency is a habit that I have only recently got my head around. Before this I would flit from one thing to another in  my endless quest for creative fulfillment. “I’m a free spirit!” my ego would opine, while my true free spirit would long for some kind of mooring to stop the feeling of flapping about in the (March) wind. A daily practice of journal writing or meditation or exercise no matter what can greatly help in this regard – and promote consistency in other habits too.

Being intentional is a whole different thing from setting goals – although often the two are referred to interchangeably. To be intentional is to suffuse all of our actions and behaviours with the same attitude. So while your goal might be to make new friends, your intention to be self-aware, kind, curious and consistent will guarantee that people will constantly be attracted to you.

(NB. If you’d like to spend this 3 May 2019 in the beautiful north Wiltshire countryside  with me and other lovely journal writers setting our intentions for summer, drop me a line asap to juliet@journalwritershandbook.co.uk)

Once you’ve attracted your new friends, you’ll want to keep them sweet. So rather than complaining, you’ll want to be clear on what you desire so that they can play their friendly role in helping you achieve it. As social beings we are truly motivated by serving and pleasing others, so lets get ahead of the game by making clear requests up front rather than bitter complaints after we’ve been disappointed.

This is linked to looking for the best in others, and assuming that people do generally wish to be helpful and kind. When we have this outlook it makes it easier to make requests, and to show our gratitude.

In fact gratitude, appreciation and clarity are the most effective buffers against the mad weather of life, and these 7 habits of positively impactful people really help bolster them.

Take up your journal and ponder each of the 7 items above – and see how you can keep your hair on this March.

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March 18, 2019 · 5:47 pm

Journaling for truth

The reason to write a journal is not simply to have a notebook full of scribblings.

That’s not the result we journal writers are looking for.

Yes, an array of beautifully bound journals bulging with ink can look impressive on a bookshelf. They can provide “something sensational to read on the train” as Oscar Wild would have it. But that’s not the reason we write.

The English artist LS Lowry, famed for his matchstick men, explained in an interview that the reason he paints is to try and understand life. His creative task was all about enquiry rather than representation – and it feels to me that this is true of most sincere efforts to explore creatively, and to give range to the imagination.

One of my workshop attendees told me that she writes to find out “what’s really going on with me”.

And this feels closer to the truth about why we journal writers are compelled to put our thoughts on paper.

But it’s not even as if we need to spend much time re-reading and re-interpreting what we’ve put down. By moving our pen across the page and allowing words to form at the end of it, we are already engaging in a sometimes alchemical process of revealing “what’s really going on”. A cursory review, perhaps a couple of days later, can often show us a surprising profundity and thread of integrity. We may not have ever suspected what lay within us, what was ready to be expressed if only it was given a conduit.

The pen is mightier than the sword, so it is said. The pen can certainly give us access to truths we might have suspected, but never really brought to life.

So the result I’m seeking as a journal writer is to unveil my truth. To feel it emerge, and to enquire into it once it has “landed” in a form of words on the page in front of me.

Often I will refute it. It might embarrass me. But then the next layer of enquiry must be applied. What is being embarrassed? Is that the real me?

Sometimes it will feel affirmative. It is something I have long had an inkling about – how wonderful to finally give it some inky shape!

Occasionally real magic happens. I review my writing and notice a spelling mistake. But the word that I have seemingly formed in error is actually the exact word required. There is a Freudian realisation that the truth of my sub-conscious can and will emerge as I move my pen across the paper.

Our journal is the place where we can begin to recognise the power of our sub-conscious, and where we can dare to explore the effects of our ego mind on how far we are living our truth. And once its sitting there on the page we can choose what to do with it next.

What’s really going on for you?

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January 22, 2019 · 2:45 pm

Journaling to fit – or fit in?

I’m thinking a lot at the moment about my life and my experience. I guess I’ve always been the same. It’s always preoccupied me how I be part of the whole without losing my individuality.

Wondering how to fit in is an insidious past-time. It becomes an obsession – what others think of us, how we will be judged, whether we will be rejected.

It causes us to lead fearful and sometimes paralysed existences.

Much better then to be fit – for our own purpose.

And in my understanding this means figuring out how to be our best self. How to become aware of what drives us and inspires us; how to weigh our strengths and weaknesses, and how to figure out what we should do about these.

Do we blow our trumpet about our strengths to drown out our weaknesses? Do we justify our weaknesses and attribute them to our less than perfect life experiences? Do we blame others for them?

I’ve frequently read some very wise words about how to deal with our weaknesses. Namely, we need to accept them, and, if we’re brave enough, dive into them to see what is under the surface of them.

What needs are being expressed through our weaknesses?

Once we get that far we have a bit of a conundrum. Perhaps our needs are unconventional. Perhaps we might start worrying that fully owning our needs will cause us to be ostracised by society.

It’s tempting to allow external judgements to cause us to stifle and deny our needs. It is also important to remember that our own ego will taunt us with its own souped-up version of  external judgements to keep us stuck and towing the line.

But if we’ve explored our weaknesses reflectively and honestly, in a way that is true to who we are, then we can begin to imagine how best to fulfil our needs in their entirety, without compromising our best self.

As reflective writers, our journal is absolutely the laboratory for this kind of investigation.

Our life experience becomes the dance between fitting in and being fit for our own purpose. Our journal is the place where we can test our thoughts and imagine a life lived according to what we think, rather than what we think others think.

jigsaw-hans-peter-gauster-252751-unsplash

(I love the image of the jigsaw pieces by Hans Peter Gauster on Unsplash. It is a great metaphor for our uniqueness. And the notion that unless we know all our edges and curves and irregularities we can never know exactly where or how we fit in. But that when we boldly show all of our shape it becomes obvious who we are and that we are the only one who can complete the picture.)

 

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December 11, 2018 · 12:24 pm

One Word

I’ve been thinking a lot about Love recently.

And I started to feel hard done by that we only have one word for it. Compared to the Greeks’ eight or nine this seems paltry.

I started thinking that we mustn’t take Love seriously in our culture and language to only have one word. The Inuits have dozens of words for snow. Surely if we cared more about Love we’d have a wider range of vocabulary?

Our English word Love is ancient. It pre-dates the Norman Conquest of England and finds its roots in the Old Germanic, then middle English, ‘lufu’.

So it survived Latin and French, and was unperturbed by amore or cherir. Far from not taking it seriously, it feels to me like we defended its unique meaning to the hilt.

But what is that meaning? Doubtless in medieval times people knew exactly what they meant when they spoke the word. These days I’m not so sure. It has so many meanings and so many contexts. Predominantly these days in common parlance it refers to romantic and erotic love rather than love for friends, family, off-spring, nation, self or God.

But it’s still just One Word. There are dozens of other words signifying states of mind  which might lead us to Love: like joy, or appreciation, or creativity, or truth or gratitude, or freedom, or even anger, but still that single, ancient, honourable word endures.

And now I’ve come to think of this as utter linguistic, cultural, spiritual and epistemological  genius. Because of its multi-layered, multi-faceted nature it is the ultimate “all things to all men” notion.

We can each choose individually how broad its scope is for us. We can confine our best love for our beloved, our family and at a pinch our closest friends; or we can surrender our egos to universal loving compassion in the style of Buddhist monks.

We can recognise the emotions of Love and we can also consider the values of it too. We can be human about it, or we can touch the Divine through it. It is basically the quickest and most effective vehicle to get us wherever we want to go.

So whatever definition of Love rings true for you, get curious. Are you defending it with all your might? Are you dismissing it? Taking it for granted? Are you living it fully and intentionally, to whatever level you choose? Or are you cheating yourself?

It’s One Word. But we make of it what we will.

 

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October 21, 2018 · 5:37 pm

Reflecting on writing – how to be inspired

There’s reflective writing – and then there’s reflecting on writing.

Clearly these are not the same. The first is an action in full flow, the second is the pause before or after.

I’m not really into navel-gazing. I get impatient with myself when I spend too long ruminating. I’ve learned to judge when I’ve done enough and when I need to come back down to earth.

Nevertheless there is a tonne of value in understanding why writing is so powerful. Reflecting on writing is a pause worth making.

Firstly rather than wait to be inspired to write, try writing to be inspired. Like yoga, the discipline to turn up to the mat or to the page is the only step. Then you can let the practice take over.

Reflective writing is about surrender to the quieter voice that guides us. Maybe you call it your higher self or your inner being or your sub-conscious. Whatever it is that takes over when we allow it to can reveal to us a whole depth of wisdom and insight we never realised we had access to.

And if we can begin to plumb those depths then we can come to recognise our own truth and authenticity. We each have our individual thread of integrity that runs through us like the writing through a stick of candy rock. Reviewing our journals over time often shows us the same messages and impulses, whether or not we ever chose to heed them.

Finally reflective writing can give us the springboard to action, to taking the next right step for us. Crucially it can illuminate our place in the world, giving us the guidance on how best to contribute our unique gifts to others in a way that feels so easy, because it’s so natural.

So reflecting on writing I am grateful for the inspiration, the discipline, the wisdom, truth, authenticity, integrity, action and guidance that it offers, ensures, and delivers.

What’s not to love?

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Travelling Home

I have just returned from a whistle-stop tour of China with my daughter, as guests of an old University friend of mine, who’s been living over there for a few years.

What an interesting trip. Chinese weather, driving, road systems, plumbing and crowds provided daily fascination. And as for the language, history, art, ceramics and friendliness of the Chinese people  – we were blown away.

I chose to dedicate a brand new journal in honour of my newly-discovered wanderlust,  realising that this was something that was strong in me as a young adult, but which subsided through family life.

This is not the place for me to record my impressions of China. Rather, here is where I want to throw out a couple of questions to accompany you on your next trip.

Firstly: what kind of traveller are you? What’s your pace? How do you like to plan your trip? What impressions do you make of people and place? How curious are you? How does travelling make you reflect?

Secondly: what is it to come Home? How do you see Home on your return? How different does it feel from before you went? What do you appreciate most? What do you wish to change?

Yup I know that was more than two questions. They were more like lots of questions on two themes, Travelling and Home.

So enjoy Travelling Home as you reflect. Bon Voyage.

 

 

 

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Make a distinction

The only resolution I made for 2018 was to distinguish between the work I do for love – my own writing, and the work I do for money  – word-smithing for businesses.

Distinctions bring clarity. And clarity enables us to be creative, productive and to attract opportunities effortlessly.

One of my most favourite books is A Room with A View by E M Forster in which he champions love and truth over social niceties. Without the honest appraisal of what we truly love we will forever be “in a muddle” – and therefore less effective in our efforts.

Giving more focus to the things we love rather than the things we do out of obligation imbues us with clarity and power.

So it’s worth being honest with ourselves and making the distinction.

As a result my writing spark is back with a vengeance. I’m having fun writing my blog and new business enquiries are arriving at my door. Before I was muddled in my thinking about writing – so my focus and energy were confused and dissipated. I was perhaps falling for the assumption that having more things to focus on would rob me of time.

Rather having sharper focus on more distinct things feels like I have generated more time, and infinitely more ideas. Inspiration and words are flowing; and my skills are in demand.

The Journal Writer’s Handbook contains an exercise called Lists of Distinction, encouraging you to distinguish between your talents, gifts, skills and interests. Sharpening your focus on each throws up more clarity, more possibility and more choice about the things that lead you to a greater sense of creativity, fulfillment and joy.

Don’t be muddled. Be distinctive. Make your own distinctions.

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Filed under Creative process, Journal Writing, The Journal Writer's Handbook, Uncategorized