Reflection Renews Perspective

lululemon Miranda Ambassador Dan Wagstaff shares his personal journaling experience along with a simple method to help get started with a journaling routine

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At the end of the day, we each only get one opportunity to live a fulfilled life, with no instructions on how to ensure that happens. Every single one of us is winging it and learning as we go through each experience. This is why perspective is so important. Each experience is there to learn from, to serve you in some way, to look back on and cherish in future, and to be grateful for. It’s all about perspective.

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As I flicked back through old journal entries, the one above from November 2019 seemed fitting to share given what we’ve all gone through over the past two years.

When asked to create something to share with the lululemon collective, and after reflecting on different topics, it was clear to me that I needed to write about something that has been there for me through some of the hardest times of my life.

Not everyone wants to run ultramarathons or operate gyms and run clubs. Each of which has been there for me in some way shape or form. However, something accessible and achievable to all, is journaling.

I remember when I first started journaling, how foolish I felt reading my own thoughts on paper in front of me. I felt embarrassed, which seemed odd because my journal wasn’t for any eyes other than my own. Upon realising this, I then realised further, how judgemental and self critical I was. This sparked my curiosity. If I could feel so foolish and embarrassed from a couple of journal entries, imagine what havoc my mind was wreaking by letting this critique and judgement run wild all day unaddressed.

What followed was a commitment to journaling and aiming to better understand myself.

Reflecting on this, I actually couldn’t have started journaling at a better time as I was about to enter one of the hardest periods of my life. I was about to learn a lot about myself whether I wanted to or not. One of the most beautiful things about keeping a personal journal is from time to time, when opportunities such as this arise.

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I can go back and read entries from years gone by and reflect on how I was feeling, the lessons I was taught, and the methods I used to navigate my way through life.

Reflection renews perspective.

Something that really changed how I journaled and took my understanding of self to a new level, was when I applied Sigmund Freud's fundamental rule of psychology to my writing.

That rule is that “you must say or write exactly what is on your mind no matter how disagreeable it sounds”. Do not alter or filter your words from mind to page so that it reads better or makes you feel less uncomfortable. Facing yourself is supposed to be uncomfortable.

The way I write and the methods I use have grown and changed a number of times over the past few years. So has the frequency of my writing and the degree to which I leant on to guide me.

If you’re new to journaling, don’t know where to start or you have tried and feel just like I did, here is a really simple method I use called “getting better with A.G.E”.

A: Acceptance
G: Gratitude
E: Excitement

Generally, I’ll start each day with the date of course, followed by my personal mantra or mission statement which is fluid and changes from time to time. Then I’ll go into the A.G.E method.

Acceptance: What do I need to accept that is beyond my control and causing me angst?

Gratitude: What am I grateful for today? Think about the things that make you smile or bring up a feeling of happiness.

Excitement: What am I looking forward to? This could be as simple as seeing your partner or housemate at the end of the day.

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After this, I like to freewrite. Sometimes I’ll do half a page, other times I’ll write 10 pages. The message is however, that I aim to remove judgement and not be so critical of myself. Reading back the excerpt I wrote earlier, it’s true. I have no instructions on how to ensure I’ll reach the end of the line fulfilled, so I may as well try to appreciate every moment along the way. Journaling helps me to do just that.

To close, I’d like to leave another excerpt that transformed my perspective on writing.

What are thoughts? Really, what are they? They aren’t real. They are fiction. Intangible. You can’t act on something that isn’t real or doesn’t exist. But here is the gold. As soon as it’s written, it is a tangible item. You can see it. You can feel it. You can act on it.

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