The good life — the reason gratitude became my friend and why I’ve never looked back

You know what it’s like when things don’t go well or they don’t go the way we planned it or hoped it would. It’s disappointing right? All that effort and time we put into something and it didn’t work. So we beat ourselves up a bit, focus on the negative and obsess about what we should’ve, could’ve or ought to have done differently.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

So, what if I told you that there is a simple and quick way to redirect thoughts away from ourselves and direct them toward the positive? Direct our focus away from what is wrong to what is right?

What would that mean to you? What impact would it have for you?

I’m not good enough

We are all guilty of being hard on ourselves of focussing on the things that don’t go the way we want them to, of sometimes setting unrealistic expectations and not acknowledging what we do achieve.

“I’m not good enough. I’ll never know enough to feel like I’ll be good at…“ how does that statement make you feel? We’ve all been there right? We’ve all had times when we have felt vulnerable and that no matter what effort we put into something it never feels enough.

When was the last time you stopped for a moment and thought “today has been great because I have achieved… “ You have? Then that’s fantastic but I would be surprised if no one reading this said “you know what maybe I do tend to focus on the more negative aspects than a more positive outlook”.

So I‘d like to take this blog as an opportunity to encourage you to make a promise to yourself and ask you ‘What would you like to gain from this week?’ Is it…

a) A new way of thinking?

b) A chance to channel a different perspective on life?

c) To appreciate the little things and to become more present in the process?

d) Or perhaps something else?

Note down your intentions and consider how you can check in with this everyday — perhaps you need a reminder on your phone, or a post it note on your fridge.

The opening paragraph of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne is:

“Here is Edward Bear coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back
of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way… if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it!”

For me this quote speaks to opening our eyes to new possibilities and new ways of doing things.

When was the last time you stopped for a moment and noted down all the good things that have happened to you that day?

I’m not talking about securing a new job, buying a car or anything else massively amazing — let’s bring it down a bit and appreciate the gesture of a friend, someone who made you smile, a flower coming into bloom or cooking your favourite meal.

So today — I want you to sit down and write down 20 things you appreciate about yourself — I know!!! 20 things — go on……

Negative is our default setting

So how did it go? I bet you started thinking of the negative things first yes? That seems to be our automatic pilot mode doesn’t it. Think about when you go to bed at night — do you tend to worry about the things you haven’t achieved or crossed off your to do list or how late it is? And how about when you first wake up? Do you worry about the busy day and perhaps how little or disturbed your sleep had been?

Imagine that feeling of going to bed feeling calm and in control and feeling positive. And waking up in the morning feeling excited about the day ahead.

So the other challenge from this blog is to notice as your day goes on where you tend to lean towards a negative mindset — where is your automatic default to focus on the negative and forget the positives? Look out for any trends or patterns and consider how you could change this round.

Did you know that the average person has over 60,000 thoughts per day ?

Psychologists, such as Seligman have conducted studies which suggest that after participating in gratitude exercises for one week, people still feel happier months later.

So how does this work? Our thoughts correspond to a network of neurons. The neural connections get stronger the more often they are called upon and so it strengthens the pathways in our brain associated with perspectives. Ultimately it becomes a natural reflex to connect with the positive perspective part of the brain.

Brene Brown says:

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness — it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practising gratitude”

I love this quote and am a firm believer that even in the darkness of situations there is gratitude to be found to some level.

Gratitude, my friend

For me, gratitude has become a way of life. A chance to really seek the positive in every day and every way. It has strengthened my resilience to deal with different experiences and helped me open my eyes to new ways of thinking.

I used to walk around with my head down thinking I wasn’t enough. Now I hold it up high, appreciate my surroundings, the beauty and colour of the world and know that I can celebrate my successes. Not the epic life changing moments we all expect gratitude to focus on, but the moments that really matter. Time with loved ones, the sound of laughter, the sight of smile and the feel of a hug. And mostly knowing that I am enough, just as I am, at this very moment in time. I really am happy to be me.

So I end this blog encouraging you to go out and seek the ways in which you want to channel gratitude. This could be through journaling, a physical jar so you can see the appreciation grow, accountability with friends, online phone apps and many more — the choice is yours. As is the choice to engage when you want to — whatever works for you — it could be a simple as thinking about what has made you smile as you clean your teeth before bed every night. After all the possibilities and opportunities to make us smile are out there — we just need to notice them.

Need help getting started or would like to be inspired by others, please feel free to join me and over 250 other gratitude champions in my ‘Happy to be me’ hub where you will join a community who share what’s made them smile, champion each other for their achievements and together connect with gratitude regularly.

Come join the community and change it from ‘what if’ to ‘I’m now walking with gratitude’

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