As a transition coach, I work with people who are facing and/or creating change in their lives. While it is important to focus on what you would like to change in coaching, in general, it is valuable to focus on what is good in your life, exactly the way your life currently is. Let’s look at the Wheel of Life, a tool often used in coaching, to help you take in the positives of your life – regardless of whether you are making or facing changes. Especially if you are dissatisfied with aspects of your life, using the Wheel of Life to take in the good will help you to remember the good when your mind may want to focus on the negative. If you do plan to make changes in your life, this process can help you note what you want to preserve during your transition.
Take in the Good for Wellbeing
It’s important to focus on the positive for our wellbeing. What we think about influences how our brain is wired – repeated thoughts create pathways in our brains, so the more we focus on the positive, the more likely our brains create pathways for positivity. Furthermore, the more we think about the negative, the more likely our brains create pathways of negativity. The phrase, “take in the good,” resonated with me when I attended a presentation by Rick Hanson, PhD. He’s a psychologist and author who studies how our thoughts influence our brains. According to him, “Taking in the good is a brain-science savvy and psychologically skillful way to improve how you feel, get things done, and treat others.”
Wheel of Life
The Wheel of Life is a circle, divided into sections, that lists different areas of one’s life. To create your own Wheel of Life, decided on six to eight important areas of your life of which you would like to be mindful. Here are different areas for you to consider:
- Relationships: partner/spouse, family, friends, children, parents, community
- Finances and wealth
- Health and fitness
- Personal development, such as emotional, intellectual, or spiritual growth
- Fun, recreation, entertainment, pleasure
- Work, career, or business
- Service work
Once you have determined the areas of focus, draw a circle and divide it into your 6 or 8 segments with life area labels. Here is an example of a Wheel of Life divided into 8 areas.
What is Good in Your Life?
Now it’s time to figure out what is positive in your life so that you may begin to take in the good. Here is a series of questions for you to ask yourself – first about your life in general, then about each of the life areas in your Wheel. While it is up to you whether you record your answers, I recommend capturing them on paper or on a device, separate from your wheel, so that you may refer back to them.
- What is positive about my life? This area?
- What do I like about my life? This area?
- What do I like or appreciate about me in my life? In this area?
- Who or what helps me to feel good about my life? This area?
- What or who would I want to keep in my life? This area?
3 Steps to Take in the Good
To take in the good, Per Rick Hanson, the first step is to allow yourself to feel good about it. The second step is to allow yourself to reflect on and enjoy it without distraction for at least 20 seconds. Lastly, Rick Hanson recommends that you intend for this positive experience to sink into you through visualization, imagination, verbally telling yourself to take it in, or whatever you come up with – there are countless ways.
Combine Wheel of Life with Take in the Good
Let’s apply the steps of Take in the Good to your Wheel of Life. 1) Notice each of your answers and allow yourself to feel good about each. 2) Pick your top, most positive, or most valuable answer in each life area. Write it down in each corresponding area in your Wheel of Life (see example below). Allow yourself to reflect on and fully experience your enjoyment, appreciation, or gratitude for each of these answers (or, if you’re really short on time, the collective). 3) Intend for the good to sink in: Tell yourself that you are willing to take in these good things; allow yourself to experience how these good things add value to your life; imagine the goodness sinking into you as rays of light or dripping honey or a gentle waterfall; say out loud “I am taking in the good(ness) of [one of your answers].”
That’s just the beginning to take in the good with your Wheel of Life. You can get more elaborate by using your Wheel of Life as a work in progress and continually adding to it. For example, you may write all your answers down for each area of life – one answer per area per day, all answers for one area per day, or all answers for all areas right now. If you like to be visually creative, you can use different colors and/or add symbols. Let your wants and needs, as well as your creative imagination, determine how you want to capture the positives in your Wheel of Life. The example below has the most positive aspect of each life area as well as all the positives for the life area, “Friends/Community.” May these suggestions spark your own creative ideas to make your Wheel of Life most beneficial to you.
Contribute to your Wheel of Life until it feels complete. Circumstances will change over time, so I recommend that you update it periodically. Create a ritual with a set frequency of time (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) during which you will take in the good with your Wheel of Life. Performing this ritual regularly will contribute positively to your wellbeing. May you be well, content, and fulfilled.