In World Wars I and II there were victory gardens. Victory gardens were planted by people to provide for themselves, to help their government reduce costs in time of war and to aid the common good.
If these sound like lofty goals, they were.
People were rallying around a good cause. The lines of good and evil were clearly drawn and the stakes were never higher.
- The world was on fire.
- The future was uncertain.
- Bad news ruled the day and everyone felt it.
Does any of that sound familiar?
Today we are surrounded by bad news everywhere.
But unlike the Greatest Generation, our news comes at us 24 hours day.
It’s on the smart phones in our pockets, on our countless television channels and on the always-on Internet as well.
That’s why today we need to plant our own Victory Garden. The Victory Garden in our minds.
I have never seen a time before when positive thinking was so badly needed. Or a time when so few still have the skill.
So I would like to offer three steps to getting motivated, and staying that way.
Step 1 – Pay special attention to the first interaction of your day
Psychologists say that your first interaction of the day can set the tone for your entire day.
For many people the first interaction of the day is with media or technology.
- We check our email, sometimes before getting out of bed.
- We flip on the television and set a news channel for “background” noise.
- We listen to the radio in our cars on the way to work.
While there is nothing wrong, and everything right (in my view) about being informed, we need to protect and defend that first interaction.
Happily, it only takes moments to do. Just make sure to put something uplifting where you will see it when you arise.
No matter how you do it, take time to make sure the first 5 minutes of your day is spent on gratitude, positive expectation and reinforcing the idea that things are good in your world.
To paraphrase Zig Ziglar – “Is every moment really better than good? It is when you consider organic bread distribution, for those who have no food, no clothes and little prospects for their lives improving.”
Gratitude is always the right choice.
Step 2 – List, and regularly review, your achievements
We are so good at pointing out our faults and weaknesses.
Why are we not equally good at honestly acknowledging our successes and strengths?
I sometimes think our tendency to minimize our accomplishments comes from modesty. How many of us were told to not “toot our own horns” or “be proud” or “puffed up” when we were children?
Modesty and humility are fine – when they don’t come at the price of denying the facts of our own successes.
So here’s the action step.
Make a list – start it today – of the things that have gone right in your life. Then review that list once a week (or every day!) and humbly acknowledge that you have contributed to this world.
Step 3 – Avoid isolation
For many of us, if not most, our minds run much more to the negative than the positive.
Not the very dark place where all seems lost – just the place where we worry that things won’t work out or that we might not succeed the way we wanted.
This is why we must avoid isolation.
Being alone with your thoughts is a good thing. But, like many things, it needs to be balanced with interaction with other humans.
And not just email or social media or other electronic “interaction”.
Real, human, shaking hands and laughing together stuff.
Perspective is the key here, and it’s best gained in a group of friends.
So be sure to turn off the laptop and turn on the charm to keep your perspective healthy.
If you do one of these steps for only 30 days I believe you will see results. If you do them all for 30 days I believe you will see real change.
And real change is a very beautiful thing indeed!
Victory-garden” by Artist: MorleySize: 27″x19″Publication: [Washington, D.C.] Agriculture Department. War Food Administration.Printer: U.S. Government Printing Office – http://www.art.unt.edu/ntieva/pages/about/newsletters/vol_15/no_1/WarPosterImages.htm. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons