A lot of people, myself included, believes that once you hear the words ‘no cancer detected’, you can put down the sword, take off your armour and finally relax. I wish that was the case. It is an unbelievable feeling to beat the stupid thing and finally begin to get your life back together but not many people think about the aftermath. Normality for everyone resumes, friends and family go about their business once again safe in the knowledge that you are not ‘sick’ anymore. All the while the events of the past few months; the needles, being attached to bags filled with orange chemicals, discussions about your survival rate, the loneliness, weakness, sleepless nights, the pity, the awkward glances, the fear, the determination not to die, they all finally sink in and you are left thinking what the actual f**k just happened there?
Don’t get me wrong I am loving life now so much. I am not pressuring myself to fit back into my old life. I am looking at things fresh and taking my time to discover what I want in my life from now on, while letting my body recover. If a close encounter with death doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will. However, there are times that I will be singing a song while I am making dinner or reading my book in bed before bed and a BAM it hits, the occurrences of the last while comes flooding back, making me feel breathless and unsure of everything around me. I might be close to falling asleep, then maybe hear a noise in the house, think it’s one of patients , silently curse them for waking me up, and then realise I am not in the hospital but at home in my bed. I will jump up, wake myself up and then have to try fall asleep all over again. Regardless of what a great day I had, it will end of a negative note. Negativity doesn’t sit well with me so I needed to find a solution. At the exact same time my sister gave me a present, and it would go on to condition me to think positively rather than reaching for the negative. It is called The Five- Minute Journal.
The basis of this journal is that it’s ‘been proven over and over again that shifting your focus to the positive can dramatically improve your happiness. The key is consistency’. It is a journal that literally takes five minutes of your day and focuses on finding the positives of the day. You make entries morning and night. Keep it by your bedside with a pen handy and when you wake up, go straight to make your day’s entry.
I wonder how many of ye stop for a second and say wow I am so grateful for this/that/him/her. Most likely not a lot because today’s society demands a hectic schedule with no time left to actually live and feel human emotion. ‘One of the greatest gifts of being human is the ability to choose what to focus on’. I believe this to be so true. You could be reading this right now and you either think, jaysus she does some waffling, or else wait let’s hear her out, this sounds like it could be enlightening. You can choose how you perceive things. So imagine starting your day by recognising the things/ people in your life that warm your heart a little and make you feel so grateful to be on this earth. Well that is the first section on this journal. You write down three things you are grateful for. Gratitude can be defined as ‘the feeling that embodies the word Thank You’. It can be so simple. I am grateful for the comfy duvet on my bed. I am grateful for my Ma for cooking dinner when I was too tired. I am grateful for the laugh I had with my friends. Automatically you begin your day with that lovely feeling you get when you truly appreciate something. You will find that this section expands as you start to accomplish things and suddenly you are getting the impossible done.
Next section about creating a better day, it’s called ‘What would make a better day?’ By repeatedly jotting down what would make today great, you are opening your day to really think about what would make you happy and make the day an accomplishment rather than something to just get through. By continuously doing this your brain tries to think of ways to make you happy throughout the day. It can be so simple, nothing extravagant or something that is impossible. My examples would be; if I got some writing done, if I ate all my portions of fruit and veg, if I rang my friend for a chat. By writing it down consistently, it ensures you wake up each morning striving to enjoy the day and get something out of it, even if it is just getting five minutes to sit on your own with a cup of tea.
The final morning part is the Daily Affirmation. This is a statement of what you want in your life. This is the section I love. It gives me self- belief. It makes me want to be the person I have written in the ‘I am…’ section. Always with consistency you will ‘create that change from within’. Once you train your brain to this belief, your world will eventually be seen through this perspective. It could be ‘ I am confident and beautiful’, ‘I am excellent at my job’, ‘I am healthy’, or get specific ‘ I am a successful author’. Slowly you begin to feel the desire to want it, you work that harder to get it. Like Muhammad Ali said ‘ It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to beliefs. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction things begin to happen’.
Jotting those few bits down literally takes a few moments of your time and the benefits and the time taken out for yourself is so worth it.
So you have had a long day and it’d time for bed. You hop in and oh yes look your journal is beside the bed waiting to hear The Amazing Three. This is the next section in the book where you write three amazing things that happened during the day. Here instead of thinking of the crappy things may have happened during the day , like your car breaking down, breaking up with your boyfriend or being fired, you can shift it to ‘I had a lovely chat with my friend’, ‘I got out for a walk’ or ‘I made a lovely dinner’. Even before I had this diary my mam unconsciously taught me this lesson. I was grumbling away at how little I accomplished during the day, wishing to be back to normal. She stopped me and said ‘Sarah you made a lovely dinner, you got out for a walk and you let your body rest a little more’. Then it dawned on me, I was only looking at the negative parts of the day, feeling it was a waste of time when I should have been thinking of all the amazing things that happened, even if they seemed minuscule in comparison to Beyonce’s day.
The final part asks, How could I have made today even better? Here you are allowed to magically go back in time to decide if you could have done something a little different. It serves as an indicator that you have the power to shape your future. It lets you look at problems and find solutions which you can bring forward into the future. Instead of kicking yourself about something that didn’t happen you find solutions to tackle future situations.
So there you go. It literally takes five minutes to complete and you wake you and fall asleep in the right frame of mind. Each page of the diary has thought provoking quotes and weekly challenges to help you progress in the right direction. I always wondered if I could keep it up but I don’t go a morning or night without filling it out. I enjoy it too much to forget. If something comes up that I can’t fill it out I complete the sections in my head and write them in when I get the next chance.
You can buy The Five-Minute Journal online at www.intelligentchange.com for about €27.
‘And suddenly you know; it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings’ Meister Eckhart.