The Good Stuff: A Year In Positive Thoughts

4841008_m(1)I have never made New Year’s resolutions, but yesterday I decided that there was one to which it was worth committing. As of today, I am keeping a diary of positive thoughts. Every day, I’ll handwrite one positive note. About myself, about something I’ve realised, or about something for which I’m grateful. It may be a very general thought, or it may be very specific and personal. It may be about something I’ve long felt is one of my strengths, or it could be a positive take on something with which I have struggled in the past and continue to struggle. Every day, I’ll take and share a photo of my positive thought on social media, with a short, added explanation of it here on my blog.

I could write one of those motivational sentences here that creep up and down your Facebook timeline at regular intervals, like how positive thinking will change your life, the world, and is the key to everything. But I don’t really believe that. And it’s not what’s behind this little project.

Many people have internalised thought and behavioural patterns that could be described as negative, self-deprecating, and perhaps even self-harming. Almost all of us have one of those habits. For some they don’t particularly impact on the quality of life or their wellbeing. For others, they completely define or take over one or more aspects of their life in a way that impacts both on our perceived self-worth, on how we live our lives, and how we relate to others.Over the past year or so, I’ve become more aware of – and better able to rationalise – some of my negative thought and behavioural patterns than ever before. I’ve found coping mechanisms, and I’m usually able to prevent or interrupt anxiety-inducing trails of thought. When things do spiral out of control in my head, I recover a lot quicker than ever before, usually within an hour or two, or overnight.

tumblr_inline_mnsn77esim1rdzvabBut making a sustained, daily effort to acknowledge and write down something positive that has arisen from that particular day is – for me – a next step in the process of trying to normalise more positive thinking. Mainly about myself, but also about how I relate to others, and how they relate to me. So the first reason I’m doing this is simple: it’s for me.

The second reason is that – if emails, tweets, guests posts to my blog, and conversations are anything to go by – many of the people around me (in my virtual and physical world, and particularly in higher education and academia) don’t value themselves the way they should. And perhaps just one or two of you will follow these posts this year realising that others – like me – are struggling with this kind of stuff, too; that it’s not the end of the world; and that you deserve to think well of yourself.

If you think this is self-indulgent and a waste of time, feel free to tune out, unfollow, or mute me. If you or someone you know could do with being kinder to themselves, then read along, keep your own diary of good stuff, and/ or join the conversation, be it here on my blog, on Twitter (@Nadine_Muller), Facebook (The New Academic), via email (, on your couch with your friends and family, or with your students and colleagues.

So here’s to a year of good stuff and to being kind to yourself.

Nadine Muller

Nadine Muller

Nadine is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University. Her research covers the literary and cultural histories of women, gender, and feminism from the nineteenth century through to the present day. She is currently completing a monograph on the Victorian widow (Liverpool University Press, 2019), and is leading War Widows' Stories, a participatory arts and oral history project on war widows in Britain.

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Nadine,
    I can feel with you. As of me, since exactly a year my boyfriend and me are keeping a monthly diary of our small and big achievements and successes in work and outside work. I never imagined this would help me so much to keep thinking positive but it does. It seems like humans tend to forget positiv experiences too quickly, PhD students in particular since they are trained to be sceptical about results and self-critical. Such a diary can help to remind us that we haved achieved more than we can remember by ourself. It helps a lot to maintain a positive way of thinking.

  2. Arran Evans says:

    Firstly A Happy New year, thank you, for that post. It could not of come at a better time for me. My foray into an academic life seems to be doomed at present. It feels though that (1 ) self worth is making it impossible, though my papers, when completed say different. (2) Family life, my son is very ill, makes doing anything other than just watch over him, seem selfish.
    But I know deep down, I must think positive. My son is going to recover and I must live my dream of an achieving a PhD.

  1. 22/01/2016

    […] I started this, I explained that I was doing it primarily for myself, and I suppose it makes sense to start this short […]

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