7 Ways I Changed from Hunting the Good Stuff

I spent some time in the Arizona Army National Guard. They had started a program called Master Resiliency Training (MRT). Arizona had one of the highest suicide rates among soldiers. They sanctioned this program to help soldiers “overcome adversity.” The Psychology Department of the University of Philadelphia created the program. After a few years I had forgotten a lot of the training. One thing stuck with me though I never practiced it. It was called “Hunt the Good Stuff.” A simple exercise of writing down three good things that happened to you that day before bed. And writing why those things were important to you.

I remember a Major telling everyone about when he first heard about this exercise. He thought it was stupid. His instructor told him to try it. What did he have to lose? The training went for three days. He noticed by the second night of “Hunting the Good Stuff” he was sleeping better. This Major also had two young daughters whom he didn’t know how to connect with. One night at dinner, he asked his family to tell each other three good things that happened to them that day. His family started doing this every night. His daughters start talking about their good things before anyone else. He was able to learn about and connect with his children with this exercise.

Over the last couple years, my life has had many ups and downs. After so many things chipping away at my resolve, I grew more depressed and negative. I got so negative that someone close to me told me they didn’t want to be around me anymore. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I felt I had hit rock bottom. My job offered six free counseling sessions and I took them. I started a “Hunt the Good Stuff” journal. I still have a long way to go but I’m 1000% better than I was. That was five months ago. This one exercise has done more for me than I ever imagined. I wish I had started doing it sooner.

1. When I Look for Good Things, I Find Them

When I first started this exercise, it felt daunting. I wasn’t sure if I could find three things to write in this journal every day. I had to think for a few minutes. The more often I did this, the easier it got. I used to get angry and sad because my mind autopiloted into negative thoughts. When I sat down and thought about the good things, I always found good things. Perspective and attitude do play a role in one’s mindset. Reflecting on something good, no matter how small, every day has helped to change my way of thinking.

2. Others Noticed a Change in Me

It took several weeks before someone said anything. My sister mentioned noticing a huge change in me. A better change. My coworkers noticed too. One of them wanted to take photos for a work Instagram. I joined in and enjoyed being in the photos. I overheard someone say they had never seen me smile so much. Coworkers were happy to see me when I went to work. They were excited to work with me that day. Positive thinking has led me to enjoy the people I work with even if I don’t enjoy the job itself. 

3. I Gained More Self-Confidence

I talked with a coworker about some of the things I had been doing since I felt my life had fallen apart. I mentioned my counseling and “Hunting the Good Stuff.” I thought she would say that she noticed I was happier. But what she said surprised me. She noticed that I was more confident in myself. I never would have guessed that would be a result from positive thinking. It makes sense. Being positive had made me act sillier and have fun without the concern of what others might think. I can’t remember the last time I was like that.

4. My Attitude Changed; I’m More Positive

As expected, positive thinking has led me to see the world in a positive way. I don’t always assume the worst from people. I rationalize things differently. When someone says they forgot about plans we made because they didn’t put it in their calendar, I understand. I’ve done that too. Before I would assume, I wasn’t important to them and that’s why they forgot. Sometimes people get busy and it has nothing to do with me. I don’t make plans as often now, but I don’t get upset if things don’t go to plan.

5. I Changed How I Talk to Myself

One of the things I started along with “Hunting the Good Stuff” was a positive affirmation. The person I was close to who didn’t want me in their life anymore gave this to me. I repeat the phrases, “I like myself. I love myself. I deserve good things.” I once repeated these words over and over for about 20 minutes. This helped but writing three good things every day helped too. My internal monologue has changed. I don’t call myself stupid when I make a mistake. I don’t say negative things to myself as often. It’s still there now and then, but less frequent.

6. I Sleep Better

It doesn’t work every night. Some nights I’m still restless or only sleep a few hours. But overall my sleep has improved. I have dreams more often. Fewer nightmares. I sleep longer and deeper. I don’t always feel energized, but I don’t feel drained upon waking up anymore. I give myself a couple hours in the morning before work. I allow myself time to ease into the day. This has added to my daily productivity and attitude when going to work. Most of the time, I can go to sleep at the time I want to start sleeping.

7. I Enjoy Things Again

I used to have a general crabby disposition. Even when I used to enjoy something, I didn’t show much enthusiasm. I find myself feeling good after doing things. I go to movies alone and reflect on having a good time with myself. If I go to a party, I socialize for a bit and enjoy some food. I walk in with no expectations and walk out having had a great time. I get more reading and writing done because I enjoy doing it more. 

I’m surprised how much this one activity helped change my perspective on life. I still have hard days where I have to force myself to find good things. The last few weeks I’ve moved from at least three good things every day to four good things every day. More and more days are having five to seven good things. As of writing this, I’ve been practicing this exercise for over 150 days. That’s five months. I may never get back the people I lost when I was negative and depressed. But I will do everything I can to not make the same mistakes twice.

The good stuff is always out there. You just have to look for it. Happy hunting!

James Pack is a self-published author of poetry and fiction.  Information about his publishing credits can be found on his personal blog TheJamesPack.com.  He resides in Tucson, AZ.

I Hate Myself and Don’t Deserve Good Things

Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. Codependency. On any given day, I’m dealing with one or more of these issues. It has taken several years for me to understand what I’m going through. I didn’t realize I was codependent until recently. That one hit harder than the others. Most of my behaviors stem from one of my issues. It feels like my entire personality is a lie. Everything I held with pride as part of who I was; it all comes from poor mental health. I’ve had a minor identity crisis for the past year. I’m rediscovering who I am as a person.

The first thing I discovered about myself was I didn’t like myself. Most of that dislike grew from anxiety and depression. And from not receiving much of any positive attention for the majority of my life. I rarely receive compliments. When I do, my first thought is to point out my flaws. The next thought is that person is lying. They’re not genuine. I’ve been working to ignore these thoughts and say thank you. It feels selfish sometimes to only thank someone for anything. Then I remember how much one thank you would mean to me. I’ve rarely gotten a thank you for anything.

I spent my life not aware of how much I disliked myself. I often felt I didn’t deserve happiness. I felt I had to earn it in some way. But no one could tell me how to earn it. Life doesn’t come with a manual. No one tells you how to take care of your body. No one tells you how to make friends. No one tells you how to talk to potential romantic or sexual partners. Not for me anyway. Most people have their parents and families in these situations. I didn’t. My parents were dealing with their own issues.

I’ve searched for things I like about myself. Easier said than done. I have a daily mantra. I don’t always remember to say it. But I’ve been saying it more often. On bad days, I’ll say it 10 or 12 times. And each time I repeat it three times. It’s like exercising. I do 10 or 12 sets of three reps. The mind is a muscle. It gets stronger overtime. Nothing happens overnight. Positive thoughts lead to a happier life. I’m improving. I’m healing. But I’m nowhere close to the end.

My biggest fear with all this is I may never heal enough to have a romantic relationship. I’ve stepped back since I realized I was codependent. I want to work through that before pursuing romance. I don’t want to fall back into old habits. I’m certain I’ll be ready one day. But I feel older than I am. I’m too set in my ways being alone. I’ve wanted children but that doesn’t look like a realistic goal anymore. I’d be happy with a partner to share my life with. First, I have to believe I deserve good things. No one will love me until I love myself. 

Find Your Tribe

“Surround yourself with the dreamers, and the doers, the believers, and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.” -Edmund Lee

My favorite thing about writing this time around is not trying to figure out what to write about, but it is deciding which idea out of the endless ideas I have scribbled down speaks to me that day. The difference is absolutely stemmed from me, but I also give a massive amount of credit to those who surround me. I am constantly inspired, supported and loved, and because of that, my creative soul is nourished, and my fears are calmed. The day I chose to go out and seek my tribe was the day my life was altered. When I chose to open myself up to new experiences and new people, and trust the positive energy I encountered, my path, my life and my purpose shifted.

Before I embarked on my journey to find happy, I was closed off, unsure how people would see me, judge me or if they would even understand me. I was afraid to trust, and because I barely knew myself, I was afraid to allow myself to be known. It took time, change of perspective, change of heart and a new way of thinking, but for the first time in my life, I can truly show those around me who I am, the real me, the me that I’m finally able to be, and in turn be the partner, mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin and friend I’ve longed to be, without fear and without walls. I choose to surround myself with those who are like-minded, like-spirited and encourage and embody love. Most importantly I surround myself with those who love me, flaws and all, unconditionally. I am becoming who I am meant to be because I have found my tribe, my soul nourishing “spiritual” tribe, and my heart is always full because this tribe that allows me to find me, just continues to grow.

When you surround yourself with people who see you, really see you, for everything you are, without restraint or judgment, you find a light inside yourself you may never have allowed yourself to see before. When you have people to laugh with, cry with, share ideas with, run with, veg with, collaborate with and share your honest life with, conquering the world seems more possible than ever. When supported and guided by those who see you for you, the person behind the shy, insecure, shameful, sad and unhappy person you used to be, shines bright to show the world the beautiful, kind, talented, fun, loving confident human you are meant to be.

Find your tribe. Seek out those who cheer your successes, teach you that your failures are just lessons towards greatness, love you through the hard times, and are a big part of the great times. Surround yourself with those who see you for every part of you, every crack, every smile, every insecurity, every crazy idea, and love you still. Share your life with those who lift you up, feed your soul and embody the spirit of who you are, and who you strive to be.

Much Love,

Lisa

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoPerry Grone