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Mining for a Heart of Gold

On Creating an Area of Refuge

I'm working hard this year to beat back the cloud of doom that descended on me last year.  To bring more happiness into my life.  To celebrate the good.  To live with intention  And gratitude.  And hope.

But it's hard.

Because there is just so much negativity out there in the world.  So many disturbing things happening.  So much bad news bombarding us every day.  And, of course, like most of us, I struggle with "negativity bias."  (You can read about it here, but, basically, negativity bias is the psychological phenomenon whereby people react more strongly and persistently to bad than they do to comparable good.)

In other words, it's easy (and part of our nature) to get bogged down in the moody-broody places in our head . . . unless we actively counter our negativity bias with lots (and lots) of positive thoughts.

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My plan is to build what happiness-expert Gretchen Rubin calls "Areas of Refuge" for myself.  When I'm feeling overwhelmed by the moody-broody, I'm looking for places to go - in my head - that can calm and cheer me.

Journaling helps.  So does making a quick gratitude list.  Or looking at photos of my family.  Petting my dogs.  Reading poetry or a few of my favorite quotes.  Something quick -- to just remind me of the good things.  So I can stop dwelling in the negative.

Last November, Michelle GD shared an interview with Jen Tulson on her blog.  Jen has a blog of her own, and a big following on Instagram.  In the interview, she talked about a new product she was launching - a deck of 48 cards, each with an image and a single word, designed to help people "slow down, go inward, honor what's sacred, and live a more meaningful life."

Now . . . that's a pretty tall order!  But I was intrigued by her Sacred Invitation Deck.  I commented on Michelle's blog that day - which entered me in a contest to win a deck of my own.

And I won.

So now I have this deck of . . . invitations.  (The cards are really lovely, by the way.)  There are no instructions for how to use the cards, although Jen makes a few suggestions.

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One day last week, I decided to just pull a random card from the deck.  To just . . . live with it for awhile.  To see if it spoke to me in some way -- especially because I could feel a moody-broody spell coming on.

I pulled this card . . .

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and I propped it up on my desk.  I found myself returning to this word all week and into the weekend.  I started noticing what I was doing -- and how I savored doing these things.

Just little things.

  • The coziness of my flannel sheets and how inviting it is to climb into bed.
  • The way the ink flows in a particularly satisfying way when I write with my favorite pen.
  • How natural and joyful it is laugh with Tom about silly things on the tv.
  • How relaxing it is to just watch the sun go down - without rushing for my camera.
  • To look down at the gym and smile because of the bright blue shoelaces on my gym shoes.
  • To catch the joy in watching my dogs romp in the yard with a stick.
  • How delightful it is to catching the morning light as it breaks over the fence in my garden.
  • How comforting to light candles in the evening after the sun goes down.

I realized that this random card I pulled out of a random deck of inspiration-cards that I won in a random drawing because I read a random blog post one day . . . was helping me create an "Area of Refuge" for myself.  A way to calm my brain and take me out of the moody-broody place in my head.

I'm going to live with this card for a few more days.  And then, when I feel like it, I'm going to choose another card . . . and see where it takes me.

Happy Monday.

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