52 Small Changes for the Mind.

For the A&CB Book Club this month, we are encouraging you to stick to your resolutions. Don’t let go of that “New Year, New You” attitude just yet! Our recommendation was 52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal. 

To get you started we have an extract from the book for you:

introduction

SMALL CHANGES WORK. I know they do, because I’ve seen the results among many of my readers and other individuals who’ve abandoned the
“change everything at once” approach for one that is geared toward making small changes over time. It makes sense: small changes are less overwhelming and more realistic, and they give us a sense of accomplishment more quickly. Regardless of the change a person wants to make, three things remain true: any major change actually requires many smaller changes; taking an all-or-nothing or extreme approach doesn’t work; and small changes that we can manage and master feed our desire to succeed.

In my first small changes book—52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You—I prescribe a small change each week for 52 weeks, so that by the end of the year readers are happier and healthier. The approach is holistic and addresses four dimensions of well-being: diet and nutrition, fitness and prevention, mental well-being, and green living. As I conducted research for 52 Small Changes it became all too clear that I could have easily prescribed countless small changes within each of these categories.

When thinking through which topic of change I wanted to address next, I personally found the category of mental well-being (a.k.a. mental wellness or mental health) to be especially compelling. For many, maintaining good mental health is a bit elusive compared to maintaining good physical health. Understanding diet and nutrition or maintaining an exercise regimen is much more straightforward: you are either eating
healthy or you aren’t; you are either exercising or you’re not. Moreover, when we are physically unhealthy, the symptoms are undeniable: we gain
weight, we lose energy, we struggle with everyday tasks, and we feel lousy.

Mental well-being, on the other hand, has more gray area. For starters, most of us don’t look at the whole picture when it comes to our mental
well-being. We tend to focus on only one aspect: our happiness. While having good mental health most definitely means feeling happy and
fulfilled, it also means that we can manage stress; we have a positive outlook on life; we can focus and concentrate when needed, so we are
productive; and we can remember things easily. Some might even argue that a happy, healthy mind is the most important aspect of our
overall health.

52 Small Changes for the Mind uses the approach of making small changes over the course of a year and applies it specifically to improving mental well-being. As with my first book, the changes prescribed are comprehensive, addressing multiple areas instrumental in achieving optimal mental health: stress management, concentration and productivity, memory and anti-aging, and of course, overall happiness and fulfillment.
Over the course of the next 52 weeks, I hope you’ll find the changes to be fun and relatively easy to implement, and that you’ll enjoy the process.
The goal? By the end of the year, you should be able to manage stress, be more productive, remember more, and ward off disease and aging, and
feel happier and more fulfilled.

week one

ONE OF THE first and easiest changes to make is to start a personal journal. Journaling allows you to freely and openly express your deepest feelings without censorship or the interference or judgment of others. Journaling gives you an opportunity to be with your innermost thoughts, so you can think through situations and life, and explore them at a deeper, more meaningful level.

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When we are confronted with difficult situations, journaling helps us sort through the issues so we are better equipped to see things more clearly, process and reflect on our reactions and thoughts, and problem-solve. When misunderstandings or disagreements arise with others, journaling helps us reflect on other people’s perspectives and be more open to how they may be feeling or thinking. We become more intentional in our interpretations and better equipped to organize our thoughts so we can approach problems calmly and rationally. Journaling also encourages a free flow of thinking, which can tap into the more creative, intuitive right side of our brain to potentially reveal more innovative solutions. Maintaining a journal encourages greater self-awareness and promotes a deeper connection with our emotions, even those that are difficult or painful. The more connected we are to our emotions and thoughts, the more prepared we are to experience growth and personal development. We are better equipped to identify our dreams, passions, and fears, and the things that need change. We also become more comfortable with who we are, which increases self-confidence and enables a clearer understanding of relationships, situations, and needs so they can be better met. Further, written disclosure of emotions helps us learn lessons from our experiences, while staying in a positive and constructive frame of mind.

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Finally, journaling facilitates healthy stress management and increases happiness. The act of writing down feelings releases them out into the world so they don’t stay bottled up; this leaves us calmer, happier, and more capable of moving past negativity. And when there is good in our life, journaling helps us to stop and take time to appreciate and savor the positive vibes we feel, as well.

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PUTTING PEN TO paper (or fingers to keyboard) is a therapeutic way of getting to the heart and soul of your innermost thoughts, feelings, and views on life and your experiences. Reap the benefits that journaling provides with some of these tips:

start with a goal Although it may feel forced in the beginning, journaling should be an activity that feels natural and easy. If you are new to the practice, set a goal for a certain length of time—say, ten minutes per day or every other day—so that you get into the habit of writing consistently. As you start writing on a regular basis, you should start to feel your emotions, feelings, and thoughts flow more freely, and you may very well surpass your initial goal.

let it flow There is no wrong way of journaling. This is completely about you, your world, and your own emotions, experiences, and thoughts. Try to let the words flow, and don’t overthink what you are writing. There are no rules you need to follow. Don’t get hung up on spelling, grammar, or even the length of your entry.

choose a topic If you feel stuck or don’t know what to write about, start with how you are feeling in that very moment. If it helps, you might consider choosing a theme for the day or week. Think about your relationships, your work, your dreams, and your fears. Engage your inner child in conversation, as children tend to speak their minds and thoughts more freely. Ask yourself questions about situations you’re confronted with or experiences you’ve gone through.

keep it private If you kept a diary as a child or teenager, only to have it read by a parent, sibling, friend, or someone else, you may be a bit hesitant to make this change. As scarring as this past experience may have been, try to be open to reintroducing the habit into your life. There
are many ways to ensure your privacy and as an adult, you have access to protections you didn’t as a child. If you prefer journaling digitally, keep
your journal as a file on your computer and have it password-protected. If you prefer to write in a paper journal, consider keeping it in a safe or
under lock and key in a desk drawer.

journal in multimedia If you are creative or artistic, you might consider putting your journal into a multimedia format. You can create videos or voice recordings, sketch, paint, or use any other art medium you prefer.

journal your changes Because you will be going through many changes with 52 Small Changes for the Mind, consider keeping a separate journal or creating a special section specifically dedicated to tracking and recording your progress, your struggles, and your thoughts and
feelings regarding the changes you’re making. Transfer the activities from Part III: Tools and Resources, into your journal so everything can be
found in one place.

Let us know how you are getting on with your January reading challenge with #ACBookClub! 

52 Small Changes for the Mind

52 Small Changes for the Mind by Brett Blumenthal | Chronicle Books | £10.99

Copyright © 2015 by Brett Blumenthal.

A&CB Book Club | January 2016

ACB Book Club

Hi wonderful book lovers,

Welcome to the Abrams & Chronicle Book Club! We are very excited to share our love of books (and some of our lovely books) with you all. To kick off this brand new project we are setting a reading challenge. We have been so good this January, sticking to our new years resolutions and some of us have even persevered with Dry January! With February right around the corner we are determined to hold onto the good vibrations (starts humming The Beach Boys). So our January Book Club Reading Challenge is to read a book that will keep your “New Year, New You” spirit soaring.

Our suggestion? Brett Blumenthal’s 52 Small Changes for the Mind.

Improve Memory * Minimize Stress * Increase Productivity * Boost Happiness *

52 Small Changes For the Mind

Small changes work. In this practical book, wellness expert Brett Blumenthal reveals how to hone in on the mind as the foundation of overall health and well-being. She presents one small, achievable change every week—from developing music appreciation to eating brain-boosting foods, practicing mono-tasking, incorporating play, and more. The accumulation of these lifestyle changes ultimately leads to improved memory, less stress, increased productivity, and sustained happiness. Backed by research from leading experts and full of helpful charts and worksheets, 52 Small Changes for the Mind provides a road map to a better life—and proves that the journey can be as rewarding as the destination.

We shall become calm and controlled (and not just on our yoga mats!).

Let’s celebrate the #joyofreading! Let us know what you pick to read using #ACBookClub.

Plus, come find us on Twitter to enter our first A&C Book Club GIVEAWAY*! To kick off we are giving away three Literary Listography Journals. The perfect place to note down your A&C Book Club activity!

You are invited to join the A&CB Book Club

*T&C Apply.

Offer limited to residents of Europe. Competition closes 12pm Friday 12th February. Giveaway limited to three copies of Literary Listography. Limited one entry per person. Not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, postage due, or misdirected requests.

 

Wake Up Your Creativity with Art Before Breakfast.

9781452135472

Do you wish you could carve out a little creativity in your day, but are convinced there are not enough hours in the day?

We know the feeling.

But despair no longer! Artist Danny Gregory, creativity guru to thousands across the globe, is here to help with this unique guide. Serving up a hearty helping of inspiration, Gregory offers 5 to 10 minute exercises for every skill level that fit into any schedule – whether on a plane, in a meeting, or at the breakfast table – along with practical instruction on techniques and materials, plus strategies for making work that’s exciting, unintimidating and fulfilling.

So why should you make art part of your everyday? We will let Danny take the lead here…

art-before-breakfast

But not only that, art can fulfill so much more…

BE-HERE-NOW Art stops time. When you draw or paint what’s around you, you see it for what it is. Instead of living in a virtual world, as we do most of the time these days, you will be present in the real one. Instead of focusing on all the things whirring in your head, you will be able to stop, clear your mind, take a deep breath, and just be. You don’t need a mantra or a guru. Or an app. Just a pen.

TELL-YOUR-STORYLife is just a long succession of small epiphanies. You need to stop and seize them. By making art, you will be recording what you are living through and what you are learning about it. A drawing and a sentence or two in a sketchbook turns those everyday moments into something significant. Your art will set a frame around it and give you perspective on what really matters. Over time you will build up a book of memories—a true record of what’s important in your life.

WELCOME-TO-THE-WORLD It’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful. And the most beautiful things have character and walnutsexperience built into them. There’s a lot to learn and appreciate in a chipped mug, a half-eaten apple, the tiny lines in the leather of your dashboard. Making art will show you how much you already have. Your real treasures. A brand-new Maserati is a lot less beautiful to draw than a rusty old pickup.

SUDOKU You will never be bored or waste time again. Every day is full of those moments between activities. Waiting in the doctor’s office, watching mindless TV. Instead of reading tweets on your phone, you’ll make a piece of art. Every minute of your day counts. Make it worthwhile.

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We all live in chaos. It’s the natural state of things. Physicists call it entropy—everything is always changing and unraveling and ultimately turning into cosmic mush. That’s why your desk gets cluttered and your calendar gets filled. It’s physics.

Creativity is the act of shaping the mush of the world around us into something—of creating your own order. I’m not talking about going crazy and compulsive with a label maker and color-coded files. I’m talking about having a vision of what you want things to be like and moving toward it.

I assume that, deep down, you want to have more creativity in your life—that’s why you have this book in your hands. But you just don’t know how to fit it into the chaos of your day. There are always too many things to do, too many obligations and chores that take precedence over you. Maybe you think to yourself, “Sure, I’d love to make art, but I don’t have the time to indulge myself right now. Maybe on the weekend, on vacation, when I retire, etc.”

But creativity isn’t a luxury. It’s the essence of life. It’s what distinguishes us from the mush. And it’s why our ancestors survived while other less adaptive critters perished. They responded to change by being creative in some way, by inventing a new answer to the chaos.

And that’s what you need to do to make the most of your life, every day of it. To be inventive, open, flexible, in touch. To have perspective on what matters to you. To deal with change without being overwhelmed. And that’s what creativity offers you.

Creativity can become a habit that fits into your life, like Pilates or flossing, only a lot more fulfilling. You just need to shift your perspective on what it is to be creative. It doesn’t mean you have to be a full-time artist. It doesn’t mean you need lots of training or supplies. Or time. It doesn’t mean you need to be a so-called expert.

You just have to be you—and express what that means.

ART-BEFORE

Art Before Breakfast is out now,find out more about here.

Want to find out more about Danny Gregory? You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and on his Blog