Our brains are wired to focus on negative thoughts. This is why we wake up in the middle of the night and ruminate on that awkward conversation that happened months ago. It’s why we zoom in on that one bad grade or that one negative comment.
While this wiring used to serve us when we were running from saber-toothed tigers, it no longer serves us and, in fact, it can be a major distraction and an energy drain.
There are many tools out there for countering this negative wiring. Meditation is one but I’m not much of a meditator so I’m always on the lookout for tools that fit how I move through my life.
I found such a tool from the comedian Martin Short. Short created a nine-point inventory that he uses to take stock of his life every year. I love reflecting at the end of each year so, for me, it’s a great exercise. Even though I was a little worried that I might feel sad about the categories that I score lower in, I found the opposite to be true. Taking inventory helps me appreciate how full my life is and how different parts of it ebb and flow over time.
Below are Short’s categories. I plan to take inventory once a quarter. Use as you see fit.
SELF. How well are you taking care of yourself?
IMMEDIATE FAMILY. How is your relationship with the family you live with (if you live with family)
FAMILY OF ORIGIN. How is your relationship with your family of origin? (parents and siblings)
FRIENDS. How are your relationships with your friends?
MONEY. Are you meeting your financial goals?
CAREER. Does your job meet your needs? (satisfaction, salary, whatever those needs are)
CREATIVITY. Do you have an outlet for being creative? (cooking, writing, drawing, sports–whatever works for you)
DISCIPLINE. Are you pursuing your goals with purpose and consistency?
LIFESTYLE. Are you having fun?