Did you know that it’s impossible to have a negative and a positive feeling or thought simultaneously? The brain is unable to process opposing emotions concurrently.
Ten years ago, when I went through my divorce, there were days I thought I just couldn’t go to work and be “on” for my clients. I barely had enough energy for survival let alone my usual high energy, positive outlook demeanor. But, necessity outweighed want and I always went anyway. And every time I went and put on my best face, I wound up feeling 100% better than when I went in. I paid attention to that trend at the time and recognized that it was spending time with my clients and colleagues that pulled me out of my slumps.
At that same time, while I was noticing that being around people was my ticket to survival, I made it my mission to tell everyone that had impact on my life that I appreciated them. I didn’t have much to give other than words, but I could bake so I chose banana bread as my Gratitude Gift (I have no doubt that anyone reading this who has been a part of my life in the last ten years is snickering... see how much I appreciated you!) Nonetheless, acknowledging my gratitude (out loud) to those people that have had impact on my life has become a cornerstone for me.
I look back on that time and I know I could not have survived without the support of other people and I am forever grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned from so many amazing relationships. Some were not the healthiest, but still gave me opportunity to learn and grow. Thank you to those of you that have come and gone, I appreciate your presence in my life at just the right time. To those of you that are still a part of my life, I hope I tell you often enough how much I appreciate you!
What I would like you to consider is this: When your thoughts and/or emotions have you tied down in sadness; “When will this get better?” Anger; “If she would just stop doing that I wouldn’t get so mad.” Fear; “What if I they don't like me?” or any other heavy, negative emotions, stop and find something you feel grateful for. Even at your worst you can find something (the sun, your kids, your friends, your health, the birds singing, your dishes are washed, etc.)
A few years ago, one of my clients and I embarked on a goal to write down 3 things we were grateful for every single day. This is an assignment born out of studies done by Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Studies show that if you do this consistently, your mind will learn to see things to be grateful for automatically. This ties in with my last blog about neuroplacticity and creating new grooves in your brain for new thought patterns. This is exercise for the mind and it works just like the body; consistency brings permanent change. Just like exercise, at first your effort has to be frequent and mindful to be effective but once you’ve built a solid base, you can move into maintenance.
I’m currently encouraging someone close to me to find and share gratitude opportunities. So far, the outcome is far exceeding my hopes! With consistent reminders on my part to reframe negatives into positives and to share things they’re grateful for, there are changes in the language being used which means there’s a change in how they’re viewing the experiences! Success!
I am so fortunate to have the inner drive to learn, grow, and change even though it means facing difficult challenges (mainly my own ego) but I feel even more fortunate to support, teach, and experience the growth of those around me (yes, more gratitude).
Now it's your turn to go tell at least one person that you’re grateful for them!
Learner and sharer of all things healthy, active, esteem building, growth promoting, witty and Hawaiian