Reality Check: Colouring Our Outlook

Do you ever feel that many situations in your life are random, where you can’t pin down a reason for why they happen? Even if the events are good, when we can’t find causes, life can seem out of control.
When we’re trying to figure out causes and effects, it’s helpful if we can detect patterns. If there’s a pattern, maybe there is a cause! If you’ve ever said, “It’s a rainy day. My knees are going to hurt” then you know what I’m talking about. You may not be able to stop the rain, but at least there’s a reason for the pain.
Detecting a pattern doesn’t make the pain go away, but it gives us information.
It’s an improvement, even if all we learn is, “This isn’t going to last forever. I’ve had it before and it will go away when the weather changes.”
However, when we can’t find a connection between what’s happening and what’s causing it, it can seem like we’re at the mercy of accidental, uncaring forces.
Patterns don’t just apply to physical pains. For example, let’s say that you occasionally feel “blue” for no apparent reason. Maybe it’s worth trying to find a pattern.
Some people say that their outlook is literally brighter on a sunny day. That’s a pattern, isn’t it? What about other factors, perhaps factors that are unique to you?
For example, have you found that you feel down on certain days of the week? On specific holidays? During specific seasons? Or around specific dates that are meaningful for you?
Perhaps you find your outlook affected by conversations with a specific person. Or maybe you find that it’s related to activities, such as scrolling through social media, watching some TV shows or reading certain materials.
This isn’t to suggest that you stop any of these activities. We’re just looking for patterns. How might we detect whether an underlying pattern exists?
We could make a habit of writing down feelings, moods or pains. However, it can be hard to discern a pattern from a collection of written notes. So you could try assigning numbers. Medical people ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is your pain?” Similarly, you could assign a number to your emotional state. Once you have a set of numbers, then you can have all kinds of fun making charts and graphs! Patterns may pop out!
However, I understand that some people aren’t number-friendly. If the thought of looking at a bunch of numbers sends you screaming, then here’s a different suggestion. Try colours.
Let’s say you want to track your mood. You might choose bright yellow for optimistic, beige for neutral, blue for pessimistic, or whatever. It’s your system; make it meaningful for you.
Take a calendar and colour in the square each day. You might do it in the morning, looking ahead, or in the evening, reflecting back. Maybe you’ll want to record smaller blocks of time, such as morning, afternoon, or evening. You could even break it down to hourly, though you’ll probably need a bigger piece of paper!
Remember that what you are trying to learn is whether there are patterns. No matter how you choose to collect your data: words, numbers or colours, after a while, you will have information. Maybe you’ll see a pattern and from there, you might be able to determine a cause.
Have you seen patterns in your pains, moods, or other aspects of life? Let me know

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