With Intention

Health

Questions to ask yourself when...

Happiness, HealthMarisol DahlComment

Thinking itself is quite a mystery when you really consider it. Psychologist Charles Fernyhough has spent time investigating inner voices and notes that on average about 25% of our days are occupied by thoughts in the form of language directed at ourselves. We don't always visualize—we have conversations with ourselves.

This internal dialogue is powerful, because it brings together different perspectives. It's an opportunity to acknowledge different sides of ourselves, like rational/emotional and hedonistic/restraining. Thinking to ourselves also allows us to explore, mimic, and anticipate the perspectives of those we know (see: theory of mind). 

It's no secret that how we manage our thoughts is a cornerstone of self-care. But given this new research and understanding of internal language, I've been much more mindful of the dialogues I have with myself and the purpose they serve. 

We might also consider how we can introduce even more of this dialogue into our daily lives, to better take care of ourselves. 

Questions to ask yourself...

When you’re just not feeling well: If I were my own doctor, what would I prescribe? Sometimes we need the push to engage our more rational and tough love sides. For me, the answer is often to drink more water, eat more greens, or walk away from something that is currently stressful. 

When you’re conflicted: What would _____ do? Pick someone you admire and would like to emulate. What decision would she make? How would he carry himself? What would she say? 

When you’re happy: Why do I feel so wonderful? We tend to focus on the times we feel upset and try to combat those moments. But it is equally important to pause during the times of day when you feel good: happy, relaxed, excited, positive, joyful. Notice the conditions and variables that create those wonderful moments, and try to recreate them as much as possible. 

How to Trick Yourself Into Being Healthier

HealthMarisol DahlComment

Replace your "bad foods" with healthy alternatives that look (nearly) the same. I haven't had a milkshake in months since replacing them with delicious green/almond smoothies (which incidentally is the only way I will put kale in my body). Another favorite is veggie chips to replace potato chips. 

Carry a water bottle with you everywhere. When you have water near you, you'll start drinking it even if you don't think you're thirsty. I started doing this in college, and my water consumption went through the roof. It also helped me develop a stronger sense of my hydration levels. 

Wear workout clothes. It makes the decision to go to the gym that much easier. 

How to Ground Your Awesome

Happiness, Career, HealthMarisol DahlComment

Keep the emails that make you smile. Every time you get a note that boosts your spirits, drop it in an Evernote folder, an email folder/label, or Google Doc. It will be nice to look back on them whenever you’re feeling down.*

Don’t throw away your to-do lists. They remind you of what you’ve accomplished, and can help you accurately discuss your work and not accidentally downplay your role and impact.

Express gratitude for yourself. Routinely expressing gratitude at the beginning and end of the day is a highly recommended mindfulness practice. Recently I’ve been taking it one step further by making sure I always recognize my gratitude for some part of myself—a personality trait, something I did that day, or even a part of my body. Generosity can and should be channeled inward, not just outward.

*A salute to Jenny Blake for this tip (she calls it a “Keepers File”!). And Sarah von Bargen also recently wrote about her Smile File folder.

Three Alternatives to the Morning Routine

Health, CreativityMarisol DahlComment

Morning routines have contributed to the success of some of the greatest minds in history. A solid morning routine helps you direct your day for productive work and healthy living.

I’ve spectacularly failed at establishing a morning routine (not for want of trying). But through the eternal quest to structure the most optimal day, I’ve learned that the key is consistent daily action—at around the same time each day. These actions set the tone and rhythm of your day. They are a mental cue that you are in the moment and doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.  And they don’t need to happen in the morning.

Three Alternatives to the Morning Routine

A reading routine: Set aside the same periods of time each day to sneak in some reading. Some ideas: the first half-hour at the beginning or end of the day, your commute to or from work, your afternoon creative siesta.

An inspiration routine: Have a go-to sequence for getting yourself in the right mood and mindset for whatever’s ahead. If you’re visually inspired, take time to browse your favorite Tumblr, flip through magazines, find an artist you love to follow. If you’re verbally inspired, keep a collection of writing you love. If you’re aurally inspired, create go-to Spotify playlists.

A clean-up routine: A set time (or times) during the day for quick clean-up and organization. Take the first five minutes of your work day to organize your desk, or do a rapid-round of pick-up while dinner is cooking in the oven.

What to read if you don't know where to start

Intelligence, Health, HappinessMarisol DahlComment

What to read if your feeling green: The Atlantic's Are Tote Bags Good for the Environment?

Whether they're delicately handled designer goods or a promotional product dirtied by daily wear, few totes are made to last long enough to obtain the number of uses required to reach resource-expenditure parity with the plastic bags they were meant to supplant.

... Ecologically speaking, the best practice for tote bags might be one of two extremes: use them all the time, or not at all.

What to read if you don't know where to start: Gala's On Making A "Fuck That" List

Without the flipside — the “negative” stuff — we can’t see our blessings, and we don’t know what we want.

It’s okay to start there. Looking at what terrifies you, your fears, and the things that keep you awake at night, is an excellent way to figure out what motivates you.

What to read if you're feeling existential: Darling Magazine's Why Talking About Death Should Be a Natural Part of Life

What if the result of grieving was to restore what has been lost? When someone has died, the pressure to let go can actually complicate grief and trigger depression. Rather than saying goodbye and shutting the door, what if we invited our memories along with us?

How to look forward to everyday

Intelligence, Happiness, Health, CreativityMarisol DahlComment

How to eat healthy: The simple rule of thumb from my osteopath: a plate that is half fruits and veggies, a quarter lean protein, and a quarter starches/complex carbohydrates.

How to read more books: Listen to audio books during your in-between times—in the shower, getting ready in the morning, riding the subway, on line at a store, making dinner.

How to look forward to everyday: Have a creative project that is all yours.