My inspiring partner introduced me to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) a few years back. I have since been exposed to its tenets through motivational speakers and authors I follow like Eban Pagan, Wyatt Woodsmall and Anthony Robins. NLP describes the fundamental dynamics between mind (neuro) and language (linguistic) and how their interplay affects our body and behavior (programming).
The myriad of NLP techniques are based on four operational principals:
1. Know your outcome (write it down; be specific; state it in the positive)
2. Have the sensory acuity to see whether you’re getting your outcome (how is going to look/smell/sound /feel when you achieve your outcome?)
3. Harness the behavioral flexibility to achieve your outcome (you can’t change and stay the same!)
4. Take action now
Rather than focusing on what we want, it’s all too common to focus on what we don’t want. But it’s hard to not do something. Nothing is wrong with not doing something, but it doesn’t’ give us direction. NLP advises us to reach for the carrot, rather than avoid the stick.
As Stephen Covey explains, begin with the end in mind. Beginning with the end in mind reminds us to live a life with
purpose, to live purposefully. The clearer we can be about what we want, the more specific we are about our goal, the more achievable it becomes. Otherwise, we’ll be setting sail for a trip that Anthony Robins calls the Niagara Syndrome:
"Life is like a river for many people, they just jump in the river of life without ever deciding where they want to end up. They set off on a journey without even a little spadework. In a short period of time, they find themselves caught up in the current: current events, current fears, current challenges...When they come to forks in the river, they don’t consciously decide where they want to go or which is the right direction for them. They merely ‘go with the flow’. They become a part of the mass of the people who are directed by the environment instead of by their own values and goals. As a result, they feel out of control. They remain in this unconscious state until one day the sounds of raging water awakens them and they discover that they are five feet from Niagara Falls in a boat with no oars. At this point, they say, “Oh Shit”. But by then, it is too late. "
Before setting sail towards a new goal, get specific:
What specifically do you want?
How will you know when you have it?
What resources do you have now, and what resources will you need to get your outcome?
Inspired by a high school mentor, I have been writing in a journal since I was
fifteen. Back then, it was a way for me to unleash the thoughts and emotions that I traditionally held inside until they would explode onto an unexpecting victim. Writing things on paper has been a therapeutic way to relieve my mind from unproductive rumination and has continued to evolve. It serves as a means to help discover and track patterns in my thinking, provides an opportunity for positive self-talk and for identifying negative thoughts and behaviors. Journaling also helps me prioritize tasks and set goals and outcomes.
Journaling has the power rewire our brain for positivity. In Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage he recommends keeping a gratitude journal: Concentrate on meaningful experiences and write down as many positive details as you can remember. Research has proven that keeping a journal for six weeks can create new positive neural tracts, decrease stress and even reduce the need for medication. Gratitude journals help retrain our brains to scan for the positive, not the negative. Research also shows that journaling can strengthen our immune system and psychological health.
As a fairly new instructor at Kaiser Permanente teaching their 10 week Healthy Weight class, I have recently discovered an additional benefit to journaling: keeping a food journal can double a person's weight loss. Researchers have found that it's the process of reflecting on what we eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior. Food journals increase our awareness of what, how much, and why we are eating. They can also reveal triggers to avoid, such as not eating enough throughout the day then overeating at night or eating due to emotions rather than physical hunger.
If you are seeking a way to uplift your mood, set goals or to facilitate weight loss, journaling is a powerful tool that is accessible anywhere, anytime. Forget spelling and punctuation and look at your writing time as personal relaxation time, a time when you de-stress and wind down. Whether on paper on on your computer, write in a place that's relaxing and soothing—maybe with a lit candle and a cup of tea. Look forward to journaling, and know that you are doing something good for your mind and body.
Hello and welcome! My name is Andrea Notch Mayzeles. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, Mom, and Master of Public Health dedicated to the path of well-being. As a wellness professional I am committed to continued learning and am here to share research, recipes and musings on health, psychology, personal development, and parenting. I hope you enjoy!