For a few months, I did the vowel check daily in a journal. To save you a click, here’s the vowel check:
- A – Have I practiced abstinence today? This could be anything from booze to reddit to perfectionism; whatever addiction is bringing you down.
- E – Have I exercised today?
- I – What have I done for myself today?
- O – What have I done for others today?
- U – Do I have any unexpressed emotions?
- Y – The “yeah” factor; what brought me joy today?
After a while I started to get mostly the same answers. Here’s the template that developed over time:
A – No Reddit or YouTube or carbs-in-a-box so that’s a win.
E – Ran and/or lifted
I – Read a book or watched a show while I did dishes
O – I’m a dad and a manager so almost everything I do is for others
U – SOMETHING TOTALLY NEW AND EYE OPENING OMG
Y – Usually something like good coffee or being outdoors or playing games with my kids or cooking or whatever.
See that? One of those things is not like the others. Every day brought new and unique emotions that I was keeping to myself. And most days, I didn’t realize I was feeling that emotion before doing the vowel check.
So I started a weekly experiment: every day, pick one unexpressed emotion and express it. A few takeaways from that experiment:
- I almost never regretted expressing it (not never, but almost never).
- Expressing the “bad” emotions made them less intense or destroyed them.
- Expressing the “good” emotions let me bask in them, and sometimes uplifted the listener(s).
- Sometimes, the listener(s) respond with their own unexpressed emotions.
So now my daily journal prompt has three things:
- What made you happy today? Because gratitude is good.
- What made you unhappy today? Because happiness is the default.
- What are your unexpressed emotions? Because I have to pick one and express it.
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