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Seeing Progress

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Today I had a great lunch chat with my colleague who is always positive and so wonderful to spend time with.

I was talking to her about the notion of progress. When I first was losing weight, and it was steady, it was easy to feel excited all the time. But now as it's much slower and I'm often in a plateau, it's sometimes not as easy to feel excited.

Also, my more dominant focus of late (as I'm close to goal weight) has been on improving the quality of my relationships and inclining my mind towards joy. And here, as I shared with her, I've been feeling like I haven't made much progress at all.

She, in her infinite wisdom, said that I need to really search for even the tiniest of ways in which I'm doing better. She also said that when you change a habit, it's like mourning, there is anger and denial, then awareness. And that the fact that I'm so hyper aware of my slip ups is progress in itself. James Baraz mentions this in his Awakening Joy course. I believe he quotes Ram Dass who says that as you live a more wholesome life, you cringe more when you mess up!

Just hearing her say that and remembering that notion made me feel better.

So all the cringing I've been doing lately at my own behavior is PROGRESS! How funny but it really is.

And to top it off, I got my weekly email from Rick Hanson (Just One Thing series - free and I highly recommend:
http://www.rickhanson.net/wr
itings/just-one-thing

His topic today was "See Progress" and here are the big takeaways:

1. If you don't recognize what's improving in your own life, then you feel stagnant, or declining. This breeds what researchers call "learned helplessness".

2. If you don't recognize what's getting better in the people around you, then you'll continue to feel disappointed - and they'll continue to feel criticized, not seen, and "why bother."

3. If you don't see the positive trends in our world over the past several decades - such as the end of the Cold War, improved medical care and access to information, and a growing middle class in many third world countries - then you'll get swallowed up by all the bad news, and give up trying to make this world better.

4. It's not that you're supposed to look through rose-colored glasses. The point is to see life as it is - including the ways it's improving.

How?

1. Be aware of little ways you move forward each day.

So for me: I'm more aware of my slip ups, I've been keeping a log of them and writing out detailed redo's so that next time I try a better way.

2. Then consider a longer timeframe: How have you moved forward over the past twelve months? What have you grown, built, learned? What problematic things have you dropped?

Well, I've released 20 pounds. I've ending my binging for good! And I'm on a path to being more joyful, even if the process is bit messy!

3. See some of the many ways that your material circumstances are better than they were a year ago (no matter if they have worsened in other ways).

4. See how things have improved in your relationships. With whom do you feel friendlier or closer or more trusting today than a year ago? And what's gotten better in a different sense: stepping back from people who don't treat you that well?

Well, I've gotten much closer with my colleagues because I'm pushing the positivity at work!

5. Recognize the sincere intentions, good efforts, and growing abilities in children you raise or teach, and in the people with whom you live and work.

My daughter and I say 3 things for which we are grateful each night and I have an AM/PM gratitude journaling time.

6. To keep going we need to feel we're making headway. Take heart: zigging and zagging, three steps forward and two steps back, slowly but surely we can and will make our world a better place.

It always amazes me how I get the messages I need just when I need them.

In this perfectly imperfect world, looking for progress is a great way to go.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PINKNFITCARLA 10/3/2012 8:45PM

  Great blog! Thanks for sharing.

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PIXIE-LICIOUS 10/3/2012 4:38PM

    Great blog, thank you so much! Lots to take away from this one. I will be looking for moments of joy every day!

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AMARILYNH 10/3/2012 4:06PM

    This is a powerful, POWERFUL concept!! I'm 64 years old, but way back when I was a senior in high school we read a poem in English class. Sadly I have no idea of the name of the poem, but I do remember that it was about JOY and the fact that joy come in moments or instants, not is days or weeks. And my teacher, a young man that as I look back on it was probably only in his mid twenties (this was his first year teaching) told us what joy is to him. He had an infant son, and he said when he went into his son's room each morning, the little guy would be standing up in his crib and would BEAM at him. And he said THAT is joy!! It made such a strong impression on me that I remember it all these many years later. So perhaps it can be a lesson for all of us - look for the instants and moments of joy!! When I look I can ALWAYS find them - and they make life worth living!!

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WILLOWBROOK5 10/3/2012 3:12PM

    Wonderful blog! Thanks for sharing!

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MARGARETANNE20 10/3/2012 2:36PM

  Great positivity. A great thing to read as I try to focus on the good I am doing and not only the bad! Baby steps are still steps :-)

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