What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

3 Questions to Journal Yourself Happy

Sometimes the best path to happiness is a very intentional one. There are many times when circumstances and stress sap your joy, and you have to find your happy on purpose. Journaling is one way to pause, reflect and shift your attitude in a positive direction.

In the 9th habit of my book Successful Women Think Differently, I talk about the research of Dr. Laura King, a professor at University of Missouri, who discovered that writing about “your best possible future self” actually has health benefits such as boosting your immune system. Apparently, writing about your life has a very positive impact on your emotions. Combine that with powerful coaching questions that prompt you towards happiness triggers such as gratitude, anticipation and savoring, and you’ll feel a shift in your emotions in a matter of minutes. Here are three of my favorite questions to do just that:

 

  1. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? (Or tonight/this week/this season?)

Anticipation – having something to look forward to – is a happiness trigger.  So think about it. Notice the stuff coming up, whether dinner with friends this weekend or a favorite show you’ll watch tonight or that vacation that’s 46 days away and counting, thinking about what you’re looking forward to and why creates positive emotion.

 

  1. What was your favorite moment of the day and why was it meaningful to you?

This question cultivates gratitude. It prompts you to sift through the moments of your day and find the shiny, golden nugget. To deepen the positive emotion created by gratitude, research suggests you don’t just identify what you’re grateful for, but also reflect upon why you are grateful for it.

 

  1. What achievement are you most proud of (in your relationship/career/finances/health) and why?

Especially if you have a tendency to gloss over your efforts or beat yourself up when you don’t do things perfectly, stopping to reflect on something you are proud of can give you an instant boost. Overachievers and people with high standards (and since you’re reading a whole column on personal growth, you might just fit into that category ;)) tend to take themselves for granted. And that can leave you feeling that you’ve never done enough, that despite your best efforts, your progress isn’t worthy of celebration yet. Hogwash. You push through obstacles and challenges every day and continue moving forward. That is worthy of acknowledging. Pick an area of your life and journal about what you are most proud of and why you’re so proud. What did it take for you to get there, what did you have to push through, and what does it tell you about your ability to handle the opportunities and challenges that lie before you now?

 

My challenge to you this week:

Journal yourself to a happier place by answering questions that prompt positive emotion.

 

Journaling assignment:

This week, answer the three questions I posed in this column.  What are you looking forward to? What was your favorite moment of the day, and why is it meaningful to you?  What achievement are you most proud of?

 

For more support in your journey to more joy, I have these resources I think you’ll find really helpful:

Happy Women Live Better Coaching Program

Happy Women Live Better (book)

What to Say When You’re Afraid to Say “No”

Do you ever struggle with saying “no”? If you get so anxious about declining a request that you end up going against your better judgment and saying “yes” or avoiding the conversation altogether, here are a few ways to authentically voice exactly what you need to say.

 

  1. “Let me think about that.”

Sometimes, you’re just not sure you want to say “yes.” If it just doesn’t feel right or it is a request that deserves more than a knee-jerk reaction, say, “Let me think about that and get back to you.”  Especially if you are someone who says “yes” much too quickly and ends up regretting it, this statement should become a habit.  It gives you the breathing space to process the request and build the courage to be honest in your response. Then, if the answer is “no,” one of the next three statements can be your follow up.

 

  1. “That’s not going to work for me.”

Whether it is a conflict in your schedule or a conflict in values, “that’s not going to work for me” is a boundary-setting statement. It indicates that your decision is about your needs and/or boundaries.  If there is a negotiation to be had about the request, it communicates that the only way to get to a “yes” is for the person that made the request to adjust the request so that your needs are met.

 

  1. “I wish I could say yes.”

Especially when you feel badly about saying “no,” expressing that you wish you could say yes is a way to acknowledge this is not something you take lightly.  You want to be able to help, but you simply cannot.

 

  1. “No.”

Every “no” does not require an explanation. Sometimes a simple, “Thanks, but no thanks,” is really all you need. Especially if you have a habit of saying “no” tacked on by a long explanation that eventually turns into a yes, try saying “no” and then stop yourself from saying anything else. No is a complete sentence.

 

My challenge to you:

In that situation where you need to say “no,” tell the truth and just say it.  Trust that things will unfold as they should.

 

Journaling assignment:

Where in your life are you saying “yes” too often and ending up overwhelmed?  To whom do you need to say “no”?  What are you afraid will happen if you say “no”? How would it feel to have the courage to tell the truth and say “no”?