Sometimes you have a month that is torn between such highs and low that it is difficult to know what to be grateful for. It can leave you with a funny feeling inside.
My gratitude journal came about because I wasn’t great at being grateful. All too often I had a negative view of things. And everywhere I turned I read about the benefits of gratitude. So I thought I had to give it a go.
My aim was to be grateful for all that I have and try to gain a more positive perspective generally.
I use Instagram as an easily recordable method, with a little anecdote too. I have also tried a formal written diary too. Because my days are so variable I don’t always get something down for each day but I make sure I think about what I am grateful for several times a week.
(And in the last couple of weeks I have been trying out a gratitude app ‘The Gratitude Garden’ which is good too).
Time and again I realise my gratitude records are not always based on 100% positive events. But I am finding the positives in the negatives. I have been grateful for the mess that my children leave, for rain, and fog, for having builders at our house, for being tired, for illness, for injured cats and cats catching mice. Not those things exactly but the meanings behind them.
I am grateful this month for all the comments that I receive on my gratitude journal posts (and other posts too) that have make me realise this.
They encourage me and I realise that my positivity is shining through how I am dealing with my everyday life and the challenges I face. I feel this attitude starting to pervade my thoughts all over my life. I am quite simply a more positive person.
How you see things matters more for your happiness than what you see.
But what is the reason for this?
Our brain stores information as a memory. In accessing memories our brains have the capacity to alter, exaggerate or even entirely change them. We can in effect choose to remember the good or the bad.
When we have a negative mind-set, the chances are we reinforce it. But by looking for our gratitude and finding it in unlikely places we can do the opposite, and turn our thinking to positive. We can reframe the negative as a positive.
So when we are grateful, whatever it is becomes a positive memory (because gratitude is a positive emotion/act). When we access it in the future we will have those same positive feelings, even if initially it was a negative event.
It is not so much ‘que sera sera’. That is too passive, too resigned. It is much more involved than that. I am not acquiescent to my fate. But I actively choose how I view my fate. And so much of the time I realise things could be far worse than they actually are.
I’m not sure how well we can use this on a multi-person level, such as the current political situation we are in. But I do think that this approach to life could go far to help individuals who are then better able to engage with the communities around them.
I can’t recommend the benefits of a gratitude practice enough. And I can let go of that funny feeling by simply being grateful for that.
Going forward into the next month look particularly for the negative things in your life to reframe into something positive. I’d love to hear about your experiences of gratitude and if you reframe negatives into positives too.