I find that one of the challenging aspects of DBT is that many of the skills appear to be simple and are actually challenging to incorporate into our lives. One needs to be committed to engage in skills. The commitment to skills is one we make over and over again. For me, one of these skills is Accumulating Positive Emotions. The idea behind this skill is focusing on positives – mindfully, intentionally – and increasing these in our lives.
In the short term, positives can be simple. Positives can be small things, minor tweaks in our lives that add up to make a big difference to our emotional experience of our day. Sometimes the impact of these tweaks is TINY. However, we notice them. They add up. And, more importantly, we are aware when we lack these positives.
April can be tough for many. Our weather rainy, sunshine is increasing , and the weather often prohibits us from going outside. As someone who really benefits from outside time, I notice this, and the impact on my mood. One of the ways I tolerate the grey days is focusing on this skill, and intentionally adding positives to my day.
This skill takes planning. It means making time during your day for things that will bring a smile to your face. That may be a quick break for a walk outside, dog cuddle, or to catch up with a friend. Even a short catch up will do (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/02/well/phone-call-happiness-challenge.html?campaign_id=18&emc=edit_hh_20230316&instance_id=87899&nl=well®i_id=65431909&segment_id=127971&te=1&user_id=978b5a7611774f4c36e8533a238a470b). It may mean making yourself something a bit special for lunch (avocado toast anyone?) or finding a new tv to watch (I highly recommend Eugene Levy’s new series, The Reluctant Traveler. His facial expressions make me laugh out loud). For you, it may mean signing up for a new class, starting a new project, trying a new recipe (this soup is so easy and delicious – https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/white-bean-soup/) or starting a new book. It may be working out to an amazing playlist (90’s rock anyone??) and listening to songs that you can’t help but sing along to.
This skill is also about Mindfulness. Being mindful of the things that do matter, that we do appreciate, is so important. It is easy in the business of our lives to forget to attend to things that will make us smile. Recently I have been noticing small signs of spring in my yard, my daffodils are coming up and starting to bloom. Pausing to notice the change in my yard instead of rushing out the door allows me a brief moment of mindfulness. Taking the time to laugh at one of my 7 year old’s ridiculous jokes always does the trick (the most recent: Is ketchup is a “fruit smoothie” because tomatoes are technically fruit) even if that does mean our breakfast takes a bit longer and we’re behind schedule.
We also apply the concept of accumulating positives to the long term. Our long term goals are all different, and the idea behind this is taking small steps regularly towards a goal you have. This may be slowly working on a project, for example, knitting a few rows of a scarf that will take weeks to complete, or saving money towards a larger goal. When we are able to keep the larger goal in mind, it helps us see the smaller steps as moving in a positive direction. Saving a bit of money each week may allow us to obtain a long term goal of a dream trip, for example.
This week, I challenge you to find ways to accumulate positives – both short term and long term, in your daily life.
WORDS OF WISDOM
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Baked Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast , Carrot Cake Cupcakes, Giant Frosted Strawberry Poptarts