Recently a friend sent me a request through Face Book to take part in a Gratitude Project where for seven days I had to pick three things for which I am grateful. Each day I am supposed to ask two other people to do the same. I am not very keen on the sense of coercion with these types of schemes so I left that last bit out but just asked anyone who felt they might like to take up the project to go for it.
I am writing this blog as I want to share the project with anyone who might be keen to experience the focus on gratitude for a few days. Like all introspection, it’s good to take time to sit still, even for a few moments, and think. If you focus on something as positive as gratitude – what are your blessings – it most definitely has a very uplifting outcome. It’s impossible to think about something that pleases you without it affecting you overall.
For years I have been advocating the good outcome you can experience from positive thinking and it is good for meto stop, take stock and to reconsider the truth of my words from time to time. Doing the Gratitude Project – or as I like to tease it – the Gratitude Test – has reconfirmed for me the powerful effects of focusing on pleasing, positive and good things in life. There is absolutely no doubt that we can balance out negative with positive if we try. I have worked at this – to make it a habit and when something bad, unpleasant or irritating occurs I try to counter out its effects by focusing on something that makes me feel good. I use usually use natureas it holds nothing contentious or even mildly upsetting. I think of flowers – my favourites are pink roses, tulips and daffodils. One quick snapshot in the mind of these and I feel different. I did this in the dentist’s chair the other day while having root canal treatment and it even worked there!
There is absolutely no doubt that there will be challenges, there will be nasty exchanges with difficult people, there will be ghastly things to see and hear, there will be cruelty and evil that we hear about or experience but we do have a choice and the choice is how we react and how much we allow the “bad” side of life to affect us. We can control the disturbing effects on how we feel. Not always in the midst of disaster, not when we are going through grief or great loss but afterwards, in the quiet moments we can look for the bright side and we can look for the good.
When my mother died recently I decided to immediately reconnect to the happy times when she was full-on and healthy, when she was enjoying life and the great times we shared. I put the ghastly hours and minutes leading to her death to one side – they were respected but not what I wanted to focus on so I thought about how she was happy to be with her loved ones in spirit and that she was released from her suffering. It didn’t take away all the pain of her loss but it uplifted me and kept me going. I looked at the blessings of her life and focused on the gratitude – what she had enjoyed and what she had brought to me – so much love; so much strength.
Getting a positive mind-set can be worked at, it can be encouraged and over time it will become a habit.
I am now going out to lunch to celebrate 29 years of marriage to my darling husband – for whom I am truly, truly grateful! (By the way I met him at a time when I really thought I would be single for ever and had set up a Gratitude For Being Single Group with other singles. We would celebrate our single status once a week together having fun. So there’s a message in that story too!)
Big hugs and lots of love – Anne