An Attitude of Gratitude
At this time of the year, what with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, the pressure to find the perfect gift, and the recent election leaving reverberations of uncertainty in its wake, it’s not hard to lose sight of what’s important. So, how do you train your brain to notice the good?
Start your day off with gratitude.
Instead of getting out of bed in fear or stress of the day ahead, take a minute with your eyes closed to be grateful for one thing, even if that one thing is simply opening your eyes. When you start your day off with gratitude, everything else flows from that state of awareness. This simple morning meditation practice begins each day in positivity and reflection. Studies have also shown that waiting to reach for your devices in the morning will also lead to a happier, more mindful outlook throughout the day.
Document your thoughts.
Have an experience that you truly struggle to see the positive side of?….Start a journal. Or even use the excess of post-its you have on your desk! Take a hard look at the situation plaguing you. Maybe you experienced growth? Maybe you experienced the opposite, but learned something new about yourself in the process? Put your thoughts to paper in a stream of consciousness and allow your emotions to flow freely. This will help to keep your mind fixed on the bigger picture.
Let go of attachment!
Attachment is in conflict with gratitude. Gratitude approaches life with open arms, accepting what is offered and feeling thankful. Attachment is rooted in expectation. It says This should or should not be happening. When things inevitably don’t go as planned, this thought pattern begets grief, anger, or stress. How do you channel gratitude at this stage? Release the negative emotions in a safe space, in a safe way, and free of judgment. Get them out. Punch a pillow. Go for a walk. As the saying goes: What you resist, persists.
Go with the flow!
We are not always as in control of our emotions as we think. We can, however, learn to choose our thoughts and consciously respond versus react when in an emotional state. Work through exactly why it is that you can’t be grateful. The first step to changing your feelings is acknowledging that you have them! The trick is to “keep swimming,” as we learned in Finding Nemo.
Find the Opportunity
Once you’ve discovered what is keeping you from being grateful, look at the situation objectively and ask What are the life lessons that I learned around this event that make me feel grateful? Maybe you learned “I’m not in control and life is precious.” No matter how bleak life can seem, there will always be a silver lining. Pain facilitates growth. If we learn to see the opportunity in challenging events, we can come at life from our highest self.