I don’t think it’s news to anyone that positive thinking leads to greater health and happiness. Though we might all be aware of this, we can’t simply flip a switch and go from a negative mindset to a positive one, especially if we have a lot going on in life that can be perceived as challenging, overwhelming, or downright awful.
The truth is, I used to have a horrible attitude and a dismal outlook on existence. Though I was extremely loved and very well cared for, often the emotions that dominated my home environment were sadness, anger, and anxiety. In my late teens/early twenties, family struggles led me to my own extreme depression, insomnia, and general viewpoint that life was mostly heart wrenching with very little reward. I wore lots of black, listened to sad music, fantasized about my own tragic death, and fed myself a steady diet of negative messaging for many years. I knew I had plenty to be thankful for, but I didn’t necessarily let that sentiment guide my perspective.
When did it change? Well, it didn’t happen magically overnight. It’s been a steady process that has built and expanded over time, sometimes conscious, sometimes not, and remains a work in progress. Of course, part of it is simply growing up. By far, however, the biggest player in shifting my mindset was yoga. Bringing my attention inward, focusing on my breath, opening up new channels of energy, releasing pent up negativity, and feeling balanced physically caused me to examine how much love I was giving myself mentally. This helped me to make a more conscious effort to change the messages I was giving myself. As a result, everything started looking brighter and the challenges became opportunities on the path to grow and learn to be a better person. Essentially, I became grateful for everything. EVERYTHING.
I could write volumes on all the events that have led me to loving life and being connected to my spirit, but there’s no need to throw it all at you now. The bottom line is, changing your mindset is a practice like anything else. Once you start making a conscious effort to shift your tendencies, then the new habit takes hold and becomes your norm. It’s not about denying that things are hard, that money is tight, or that your relationship is in the toilet. It’s about seeing things with a deep shade of grateful, no matter what. Even if you don’t like what’s going on, you see the bigger picture and you accept (even welcome) the learning experience. This helps pull you out of spirals of fear, resentment, and self-pity, allowing you to see and feel more clearly, thus taking decisive action.
How then, you may ask, does one start to cultivate a mindset of gratitude?
Here is a suggestion for you to start your day with gratitude on the brain. It is inspired by one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose book The Miracle of Mindfulness taught me about meditation. There is a golden opportunity in the morning, that moment when the alarm goes off, and the mind instantly starts racing or planning or saying something like “ughhhhhhh.” Instead, or as soon as you realize it’s happening, take a deep breath and say to yourself, “Thank you.”
You don’t need to add any further detail than that, just thank you will do, but I often add, “Thank you for this day.” You don’t have to be talking to anyone or anything in particular, you are simply setting yourself up to be grateful for whatever this day presents. And that beautifully directs your thinking and energy toward the positive end of the spectrum. In other words, wellness points! And believe me, everyone around you will be grateful for that as well. Negativity is heavy and repellant; positivity and gratitude are attractive and uplifting.
Practice this upon waking everyday. You might find yourself being thankful more rapidly when a difficult situation surfaces, allowing you to remain open when you may have otherwise deployed all your aversion tactics.
THANK YOU for reading this post and participating in this community. Please share how you bring more gratitude and positivity to your life. We all want to know your secrets for being the wonderful you that you are.