Happiness doesn’t start with a relationship, a vacation, a job, or money. It starts with your thinking and what you tell yourself on a daily basis.
The best lessons we learn in life are the lessons we learn over and over again.
The human mind needs lots of reminders — lots of practice — to operate effectively.
For example, deep down we know it’s OK to…
- Say “no”
- Speak up
- Tell the truth
- Believe differently
- Change our mind
- Prioritize our needs
- Learn from our mistakes
- Embrace our imperfections
- Forgive and seek forgiveness
- Begin again, stronger than before
Yet, we often seek the exact opposite when life gets stressful and we’re under pressure.
We do the wrong things even when we know better.
Because, the human mind has weaknesses. It becomes forgetful and insensible when it’s stressed. And the only way to conquer these weaknesses is to practice conquering them.
Remember, the mind is like a muscle, and just like every muscle in the human body, it needs to be exercised to gain and maintain strength. It needs to be trained daily to grow and develop gradually over time. If you haven’t pushed the mind in lots of little, positive ways over the course of time, of course it’ll crumble on the inevitable days that get overwhelmingly stressful.
The easiest strategy to practice strengthening the mind?
Daily Quotes & Notes to Self
It’s all about keeping the right thoughts at the top of your mind every day, so they’re readily available on those inevitable days when you need them most. For Angel and me, that means pausing every day, as often as necessary, and reflecting on precisely what we need to remember. We write ourselves important visual reminders — our “notes to self” — like the ones below and then we place them where we can easily see and reference them throughout the day (my notes are taped on the wall directly in front of my desk, and then I have one as the wallpaper background on my phone). Some people call them affirmations, or quotes, or prayers, on convictions, but in any case, these “notes to self” keep us on track by keeping our minds empowered with positive, peaceful trains of thought, even when life gets utterly hectic.
Through this daily training — this visual practice — Angel and I have ultimately learned that peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard realities to deal with; peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be capable of maintaining a calm, collected mind.
To an extent, I know you’ve learned something similar over the years from your own life experiences.
But just like us, you often forget.
And that’s precisely why we have our “notes to self.”
So my challenge to YOU is to start practicing alongside us today.
To get started, steal our “notes to self” below — perhaps just the ones that resonate most — and place them somewhere you can see them. Then, whenever you catch yourself feeling overly stressed out, pause for a minute and quietly read them to yourself. See how doing so gradually changes the way you think through life’s twists and turns and potholes.
(Note: For the sake of not being tediously redundant, I only wrote “NOTE TO SELF” as a precursor on the first note below. But you can use this precursor on all your notes if you like — some of our course students and live event attendees have told us they find the precursor to be a helpful visual hook, especially when they have their notes spaced out in different physical or digital locations.)
Use Different Forms of Notes Too
Written “notes to self” like the ones above are powerful, but they merely scratch the surface of possibilities for beneficial visual reminders. For instance, I have my laptop’s desktop background set to a photo of my family, both because I love looking at them and because, when work gets really tough, these photos remind me of the people I am ultimately working for. It’s so simple, but it helps.
I also know dozens of other people who successfully use similar visual reminders on a daily basis. A student of ours who has paid off nearly $100K of debt in the past five years has a copy of his credit card balance taped to his computer monitor at home; it serves as a constant reminder of the debt he still wants to pay off. Another student keeps a photo of herself when she was 90 pounds heavier on her refrigerator as a reminder of the person she never wants to be again.
Think of moments when you are most likely to give in to impulses that keep you stuck and take you farther away from your ultimate goals. Then use written “notes to self” and visual reminders of your goals to interrupt those negative impulses and keep yourself on track.
If you’re feeling up to it, we would love to hear from YOU.
Which reminder — or “note to self” — mentioned above resonates with you the most today, and why?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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Sharon C says
I love your emails and articles. They add a refreshing amount of positivity to a person’s life… Thank you for sharing them.
I hadn’t received one of these in a while and/or I hadn’t opened the emails to read fully in a while. Today, I opened it and #9 hit the mark! This was exactly what I needed to see today. I was just feeling bad that I should’ve switched to my dream job last year but didn’t because I wanted to keep my commitment to my team last year. This coming year I am doing all the right things to switch positions but as I was looking back with mild regret that I should’ve done it last year. Then, #9 came along and reminded me “I am exactly where I need to be”. I will get that opportunity again soon and I feel better prepared for it this year to be honest. Thanks for all the wisdom you share!
I started changing my life with “notes” when I visited a friend who was going through some bad times. She had them plastered on mirrors, walls, the bathroom, etc. It helped her and soon she had me collecting quotes, notes, etc. It would be nice if you two wonderful people could have a product line (like the old page a day calendars or daily diaries, or t-shirts) that had your quotes that we could cut out or save. I am constantly receiving such great benefits from all your positive and inspiring advice. Just a thought. Keep up the good work.
S. O. Dee says
Thank you for the post on 10 “Notes To Self”
The note that resonates with me is note 4.
I had struggled for years with effective time management but thank goodness I have made some progress on this. The note is quite a reminder for me not to embrace the habits, thought patterns, circumstances and associations that earlier made me waste time on minor unimportant things.
Cathy M Ross says
First of all,as this year comes to an end, I would like to thank you both for all the positivity, reflection and thought provoking information you have brought to my life.
#5 resonates with me most. I lived through an abusive childhood because of sexual abuse, lack of receiving expressions of love and general chaos due to my father’s alcoholism. It made me very self destructive through my teens and twenties. Once I became a mom, I realized that the dysfunction would end with me. I spent years on and off in therapy and it totally changed my life and my childrens’ lives as well . You are so right when you say that circumstances of our past are not our fault but moving forward and not perpetuating the behavior is completely our responsibility. I wish you and Angel a healthy,happy New Year.
Thanks for posting throughout the holiday season. Love the ‘Realistic Positivity’ vibes! Happy Holidays 🙂
M&A, your teachings continue to help me find hope and direction as I navigate some very tough transitions right now.
The advice here is a solid reinforcement for me, because lately, based on Angel’s recommendation via your course awhile back, I’ve been pretty much doing exactly this–I read a part of one of your emails, posts, or a page of your 1,000 Little Things or 1,000 Habits books almost every day before I leave my home in the morning. This daily ritual keeps so many things in perspective and creates a sense of subtle awareness that somehow encourages me to face the tough parts of my life more effectively. As you’ve said, the right thoughts are sitting closer to the top of my mind these days. Thanks for continuing to be a light in my life.
I have found so much inspiration from your emails. I am hoping to be in one of your live events in 2023. As a pastor, I may request permission to use your materials in our church.
Ps. William (South Africa)
Thank you for all of your wise emails, books, and comments. I am coming out of a 20 year marriage that was suffocating my soul. Number 3 really resonated with me and your book and blog help me so much get back to my naturally happy spunk. I realize that I need to change my self talk and daily affirmations and gratitudes are great ways to do it. One of my favorite quotes from your 1000 Things book goes something like this:
“It is much easier to fill the hole in your life where someone used to be than to fill the hole where you used to be.”
This is true. I felt like my self had been slowly erased. There are people in this world who lack empathy and therefore, they are incapable of loving and respecting us the way we all need to be loved and respected. I didn’t know what lessons I needed to learn from being in a one-sided relationship. Now I know I deserve better. My needs have to be at an equal level to the person that I am with. I matter too.
#5 is something I’ve always had trouble with. My childhood was traumatic. From being molested at 11 yrs old by my best friend’s dad & a neighborhood teenage boy, I never understood why I felt so different. Felt like I didn’t fit in. My mom would not let me talk about things because she said it was in the past so I didn’t even confront those feelings till my 30s. In my relationships with men, I took the physical & mental abuse because I felt damaged & stayed because I thought it was part of being loved. I just wanted to fit in somewhere & feel loved so I took whatever I needed to. After my last serious relationship over 14 yrs ago, I became so negative & unhappy. I wanted to blame all that happened to me on why I felt so unloved & damaged. It was only last summer that I finally realized that I do not have to let what happened to me over 30yrs ago dictate my future. I almost ended my life because I thought I couldn’t take all the shitty things that had happened to me. But I now know that “I am” responsible for my life & future ahead of me. Don’t get me wrong, I still have thoughts & bad days but I’m way way better now. Calmer. I do not react to negative situations & people like I use to. I can leave my house which was hard for me to do.
I love these notes to self that you two have shared & will place some around my house, especially #5.