Author Fiona Eckersley: How We Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness
There are different ways you can make a practice of all of this. I like to run through as many things I feel grateful for as I can before I open my eyes every morning. Some people like to have a gratitude journal that they write in every night before they go to bed. Others like to jot things as they go through the day. Whatever works for you is what will work. The important thing is to do something every day in order to make this a habit.
As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.
What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?
One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Fiona Eckersley
Fiona Eckersley, Confidence Coach, Divorce Recovery Expert, Motivational Speaker, and best-selling author of Fearful To Fabulous: Unlock Your Power, Move on and Thrive After Midlife Divorce And Too Scared To Love Again: The Divorced Woman’s Guide to Sidestep the Red Flags, Delight in Dating and Find the Love You Deserve.
Fiona is a certified coach who utilizes her own journey to help clients blast through their own fears and challenges in order to learn lessons from the past which carry them into a new life filled with joy, confidence, and control.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?
Originally from England, I have been in the United States since my early 20’s. I stayed home to raise my four children, after my earlier career as a teacher working in Great Britain, Sierra Leone and the United States.
When I was 44 years old, I had been married for 17 years. I was settled in my life as a wife and mother and looking to the future as I watched my children grow. Then one Sunday afternoon I learned that indeed my whole life was about to be flipped upside down and the future that I had seen a secure was going to be completely different when my husband announced that he was filing for divorce. I was devastated and made many bad decisions and common mistakes. Since then I have learned to overcome my own self-limiting, negative thoughts, emotional blocks and incorrect beliefs. I understood what was holding me back from what I wanted to achieve. Today I help other women fast track that process to find their joy, confidence, the truth about who they really are and their voice.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have met so many amazing women who had no idea of the totally fabulous and capable woman they were! It has been my complete joy to watch them realize the truth of who they are and find the confidence to step forward into a life that they love. Everyone has been unique and beautiful in her own way, but when one of my clients told me that she had been asked to speak at a conference for abused women and had shared the lessons she learned from me to help others, that brought me to tears.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“For what it’s worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
There are so many quotes I love, but ultimately this one resonates so strongly with me because there have been so many times in my life when I have had to “reinvent” myself. Deciding who you want to be, rather thn letting others and circumstances do that for you can be very hard, but ultimately the best way to live the life you love.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?
“You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero was the first ‘self-help’ book that I ever read. I used to look at the whole genre as silly and unnecessary. The title was funny, so I gave it a go. Since then, I have read it repeatedly for the wonderful messages and the joyful way it is delivered. From my original dismissive opinion of the whole genre, I have gone on to write two books to help others myself!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I have been working on a couple of self-guided video courses to help women to take control over their life again. Learning how to get a handle on finances, manage destructive behaviors, reframe negative emotions, and create a vision for their future. Including, if that is something they want, how to find a positive new romantic relationship. Not everyone is in a position to work one on one with a coach and I want to make sure that everyone has access to these life changing messages and exercises.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
It’s hard to pick just one person from the myriad of coaches and friends I have made along my journey, but I think that I can credit my ability to see past where I was stuck after my divorce and to believe in myself to a teacher I worked with soon after my husband left me. Janice was the best listener that I have come across to date. She didn’t let you get away with any kind of excuse or self-pity and she always gave her opinion in such a way that you were able to come to the best decision for what to do in any given situation, whether it be at work or personally. Unfortunately, she died suddenly a few years ago. As I sat in her funeral listening to one person after another talk about her and how the advice she gave them made such an impact on their lives, I realized that I was not the only one who shared that special connection. It is my hope that I can touch the lives of others in as positive way as she did.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?
Gratitude to me means to look around at what you see in your life at this present time and focus on all the good aspects. No matter how small that may be. On some days that might mean that you went a whole day without crying, that your elderly dog managed to not pee on the rug or that you got a positive call from your child that has been struggling. It’s about reframing what is happening in life to love what you can.
Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?
I think there are two main reasons for this. The first is that human beings in general tend to naturally focus on what is not going well. They forget to recognize the small things in life that we can take for granted- like having a warm home.
The second reason is that there has been so much emphasis on what we are SUPPOSED to have or the way we are SUPPOSED to live, and so if we don’t have or do those things, it seems like life is lacking. The comparison to what we are missing out on makes gratitude out of the question.
This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?
Practicing gratitude on a daily basis will enhance all areas of your life. You will experience more fulfilling relationships, where it will be easier to understand the point of view of others.
Work life can be improved because of your own confidence.
Even your overall health can be improved.
Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?
When you are practicing deliberate gratefulness, you can definitely find something about life that you are happy about. There will be less tendency towards the negative emotions, such as anger, because you are looking for the positive in situations. You are less likely to compare yourself to others and instead appreciate your own accomplishments on their own merit. This positive attitude and enhanced self-esteem leads to less anxiety about things in general. Less stress and anxiety definitely contribute to overall physical wellness as you tend to have fewer unhealthy habits that are used as coping strategies. A happier person will tend to share healthier relationships.
Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Gratitude does not have to be for the big things in life. There is so much abundance around us that we don’t even sometimes notice. Could you step outside into the sunshine for 5 minutes today? Does your bed feel wonderful when you get into it at night? Did you get a few minutes to just breath and enjoy a quiet cup of tea in the midst of chaos today? Appreciating these small things promotes larger feelings of gratitude and its benefits.
- I always share with my clients that moving on and forgiving does not mean that we are not acknowledging the past or “getting over it.” What it means is that we are allowing ourselves to live the life we have today. Feeling gratitude for that is a huge part of being able to love life now and to look to the future with hope and confidence.
- Sometimes we forget that we can be grateful for people as well as things. One of the exercises I do with clients is acknowledging and appreciating someone they come into contact with. Whether at work, a friend, or someone in their family. Showing gratitude to them for something makes them feel wonderful, but it will also make you feel great when you see their reaction and your knowledge that you have such a person helping you in your life. The fact that this so often takes people by surprise, shows that we don’t do it enough.
- I can look back on things that have happened to me throughout my life that have brought me to the place I am now. They have pretty much directly led me to the work I do. It is safe to say that many of these experiences have not been positive. Yet I am completely grateful for them now. They have made me who I am, allowed me to grow and to continue to strive to be better. So feeling grateful for things in your past and looking at them as valuable learning tools rather than allowing them to drag you down is a huge benefit.
- There are different ways you can make a practice of all of this. I like to run through as many things I feel grateful for as I can before I open my eyes every morning. Some people like to have a gratitude journal that they write in every night before they go to bed. Others like to jot things as they go through the day. Whatever works for you is what will work. The important thing is to do something every day in order to make this a habit.
Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?
I would say not to feel that there is anything wrong about what you are feeling. Don’t try to pretend that it’s not there. If you need to take time to sit on the couch, hug the dog, put on a weepy movie and let it all out then do it. Just don’t let that go on for too long. Talking to a friend if possible is a great way to bring yourself out of a difficult situation. Just being able to feel a connection to someone else, not feel isolated.
As we tend to let our thoughts spin off to the worse case scenario, a different view point will be helpful.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?
Ten Percent happier by Dan Harris — is both a book and a podcast
The Big Leap by Gay Hendrix
The Little Book of Gratitude: Create a Life of Happiness and Wellbeing by Giving Thanks by Robert A. Emmons
The Gift of Imperfection by Bene Brown
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I think that if we can all learn to judge less — both others and ourselves- then there would be a lot less conflict in the world.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
To get my books and to find out more about me and my work,
Or Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Coachfionaeckersley
Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!