Well, my day sucked yesterday! We’ve had the dreaded lurgy hit the house, my laptop had the face on and I was tired, so I was feeling miserable, unmotivated & thoroughly fed up. I definitely did NOT have the attitude of gratitude.
After a few hours of sulking, I turned to my faithful “When the Going gets Rough” list and decided to shake myself down, grab my notebook and write a gratitude list.
“What the fuck for?”, I hear you sigh.
“That breath you just took… That’s a gift” – Rob Bell
Long-term studies consistently support the powerful effect of gratitude, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude to gratitude contributes to:
- greater success in work
- better health
- peak performance in sports and business
- a higher sense of well-being
- and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.
It also helps you to sleep better, improves self-esteem and expands mental strength and resilience. Yes, really!!
However, even though it’s proven to have a heap of benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. Our brains are naturally negatively biased. This comes from our cavemen days on the savannahs of Africa where we had to assume a rustle in the grass was something coming to kill us.
Most of us easily notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. We can easily list all the things that we’re pissed off or stressed about.
To learn a new way of looking at things or a new habit it takes time.
Have a little watch of my video about burning pathways in your brain *here*. That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice appreciating what we’ve got, instead of complaining about what we lack, we get to see really how much we have to be grateful for.
I’m not suggesting a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in your life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we place our focus and attention. Being grateful gives us balance and hope.
Now, there are heaps of things to be grateful for: the sunshine, legs that work, jobs that satisfy us, friends who make us laugh, long hot baths, cups of tea, cuddles from our kids, chocolate & prosecco (yes, together!)
What’s on your list?
How I create an attitude of gratitude
There are lots of effective and enjoyable ways to practice gratitude. Why not keep a gratitude journal in which you list things you are thankful for? I try and write down three things I’m grateful for each night before I go to sleep.
Show people in the small ways – or simply say thank you. I usually try to make it really clear what I’m thanking them for, and how it made a difference to me.
“Thanks for getting me that report in on time. It really helped in the meeting.”
“Cheers for making me a cuppa. I wouldn’t have made time to do it myself.”
“I really appreciate you picking the kids up. It meant I could just finish off a work project.”
See what I mean?
I like to challenge myself to find the hidden ‘good’ in a bad situation when I’m really annoyed about something. It’s like getting my ass out of victim mode. How often do you use black or white language in a bad situation?
“This ALWAYS happens to me”
“It NEVER goes right”.
Is that actually true? Probably not, but when life sucks it’s easy to get dragged down into this all or nothing attitude.
Find the good bit – it’s almost always there if you look hard enough.
Yesterday I told myself one of my favourite phrases – “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life”.
Substitute a day for an hour, an hour for a minute. This phrase dragged me through the first year of having a baby… but that’s a different blog!
I also did a couple of other things from my “When the Going gets Rough” list. I had a calm cuppa outside and then lit a candle to give me a romantic ambience as I cleaned up the piles of snotty tissues hanging around!
So what do you say? Are you ready to grab the attitude of gratitude and see an inner shift begin to occur?