What is the 37 Days Project?
I started the 37 Days Project as a way to help rid myself of the negative thoughts that were holding me back from being happy. It began as a challenge to myself to replace negative thoughts, actions and reactions with positive ones during 37 days of Lent, the days leading up to Easter in which it is traditional to give up a vice or bad habit. What I found at the end of the 37 days was that I was able to pinpoint where my negative feelings and thoughts were coming from, what triggered them, and that by consciously making an effort on a daily basis, I could change my whole way of thinking.
That initial project has since spawned more 37 day projects (37 days of gifts, of body confidence, of beauty, of learning, etc.) that I plan to continue on indefinitely because the projects force me to look at life with a new, more positive, perspective and along the way I've learned a tremendous amount about personal growth.
While I chose to focus on one positive aspect at a time every 37 days for myself, I have recently come up with a boot camp plan for those who are really struggling with a flood of emotions and need to regain focus. I have shared this plan with a couple friends, and now sharing it with anyone who may be able to benefit. Whether one chooses to do the boot camp or work on one project at a time, making a change for the better is always a good thing.
The Boot Camp
The boot camp doesn't require any push ups or drill sargeants, only a notebook and some time to reflect. Here's my 37 Days of Positive Thinking Boot Camp- every day you are to record in your journal the following:
- 1 thing you are grateful for and why
- 1 good thing that happened to you that day and how it made you feel
- 1 way in which you made a positive difference to someone else and how they were impacted by it (it could be anything, even as simple as a smile)
- 1 thing you found truly beautiful during the day
- 1 thing you like about yourself
- 1 thing you are afraid of and why, and
- 1 thing that needs to be forgiven, whether that is yourself or past hurts and old grudges
It sounds like a lot and some of those items will be more challenging on certain days than others. But here's the reasoning behind it- each one of those things serves to help you refocus your mind, empty your heart of negativity and fill it back up with peace.
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves
— Henry David Thoreau
What is the benefit of the boot camp?
Why did I select those things? For several reasons:
- To me, all positive thinking begins with gratitude. When we take time to really look at the people and things in our lives that we appreciate but probably take for granted, we find that our blessings usually outweigh our troubles.
- Even on bad days when you feel like the world is conspiring against you, there is always at least one bright moment that happens; let that bright moment shine in your mind and it will chase away the darkness you feel.
- Negativity is very self-centered, so when we shift our attention to others and share simple acts of kindness, it show us that our lives have purpose and meaning beyond ourselves.
- Taking a moment to savor something beautiful, even if it's just a flower growing in a sidewalk crack, make us slow down and appreciate the good things the world has to offer.
- It is easy to be our own worst enemies and be critical of ourselves. We tell ourselves things that we would never dream of saying to another person. Reminding ourselves of our good qualities on a daily basis reminds us how important it is to be our own best friends.
- Fear drives a lot of our actions and because it is painful, we hesitate to acknowledge it. Fear can make us make bad choices and hold us back from future happiness. In order for fear not to control us, we have to bring it to the surface and process it, much like exorcising a demon. Only then can that fear be seen for what it really is and be conquered.
- And lastly, forgiveness is the only way to achieve lasting peace. If you harbor hatefulness and regret in your heart, you leave little room for peace. Holding grudges usually causes more pain to the one holding the grudge rather than the one the grudge is about. It's a splinter that festers. Forgiveness helps you remove the splinter and begin to heal.
Do your best
You might not be ready to tackle all of these items at one time. Split them up and work on them in a way that fits your current need. But the main thing is to take the first step and tell negativity that it has no place in your life.
Make that important change to consciously release the ugly thoughts and old wounds that are stealing your present joy and you will find that living a positive life becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; think positively and positive things will happen.