A few years ago I was in a really dark place. I don’t tend to share these things when I’m going through them, I prefer to retreat into myself, figure it all out and then talk about what I learnt.
Very few people knew what was going on. Actually only Ben knew what was happening. And even then he didn’t know to what extent, until I’d come out the other side.
I’m normally a super upbeat, happy, optimistic, glass is half full person, but every now and then I get floored by negativity. Darkness engulfs me and it’s hard for me to imagine feeling truly happy again.
Fortunately it hasn’t happened that often, and I have discovered tools to help me get through these times.
When I was hit a few years back I was saved by the uplifting words and practices of Karin Joyce of Embrace Happy, and the attitude of gratitude that she preaches.
Karin’s mantra is “Not every day is good, but there is good in every day”. Karin’s Facebook group and this phrase helped me when things felt really bleak, and they got me started with gratitude.
The first thing I did was buy pretty pens and a nice notebook which became my “Gratitude Journal”. Then I forced myself to find things in my every day to be grateful for (having a nice notebook and pretty pens helped me do this!).
In the early days I could list all the things that had driven me mad that day, the things that had wound me up, the people who’d said or done things, the noises that had grated, the anger, frustration and sadness I felt.
But I struggled to find the good stuff.
So first of all I would write down the basics:
- I have a roof over my head.
- I have a husband who loves me.
- I have two happy, healthy kids.
- I am in good health etc.
Until my list got longer and more positive. You see…
1) Gratitude Attracts Good Things
The more you are grateful for things in your life, the more you will see things to be grateful for. It’s incredible how this works. Put simply, you see more of what you are looking for.
So if you are looking for things to be grateful for then you will see more things to be grateful for.
We spend so much time moaning and being negative that barely have we finished bitching and complaining about one thing then another bad thing shows up.
The same is true for the good stuff. The more you notice the positive aspects of your life then the more you’ll find you have good things in your life to pay attention to.
In the early days of my gratitude journal I struggled to list 3 things (that was my daily challenge, from Karin, to list 3 good things). Then within a week or so 3 things came easily. A week later I could list 4 or 5 good aspects of my day.
Finally within a month of starting this practice I was writing whole pages of things that had happened that day which I was grateful for.
Not only was I noticing the good stuff, but I was definitely attracting more good things. From silly little things like getting a seat on the train to big things like getting a big, unexpected windfall.
The more I practised gratitude the more good things I had in my life.
2) Gratitude Encourages Living in the Now
We’re constantly being told that we need to be more mindful. That to reduce stress we need to stop our brains racing, and to appreciate our life in the now. But it’s incredibly hard to do this. Especially when you’re a working mum with little ones.
Because there is just so much TO DO!!!
For most of us our minds are whirring within seconds (milliseconds?) of us waking up. We’re on our phones before our eyes have even really opened. Our hearts are racing, our brains are whizzing and we’re off. For yet another day of non-stopness. Until we collapse into a restless sleep at the end of the day.
We appreciate nothing of what happens in our day.
Children who call to get our attention are snapped at:
“Mummy, Mummy, look at me twirl!”
“Not now! Mummy has to deal with this email / cook the dinner / fill in this form / hang the washing up / sew your costume…”
But when you adopt an attitude of gratitude you slow these things down. You know that at the end of the day you need things to write in your gratitude journal, so as you go through your day this nags at the back of your mind: “what have you got to be grateful for today?”
And when your little one asks you to watch her twirl you stop in your tracks. You lower your phone, the spoon, the pen, the wet laundry, the needle and you watch your daughter as she revels in having your attention. And she twirls and giggles and is so full of joy.
And you feel a spark of joy as you experience that frisson of living in the now and stopping for just a second on your hamster wheel.
3) Gratitude Increases Happiness and Positivity
Today I live a life I love in Mauritius. I am crazily happy 99% of the time. I am super positive.
None of which would have been possible if I hadn’t adopted an attitude of gratitude a few years ago.
I wouldn’t have been able to let happiness and positivity in if I hadn’t kept a gratitude journal. If I hadn’t looked for the positive amongst all the negatives that were dive-bombing me.
For those of you who are into manifesting and the law of attraction you will recognise this as your happy, positive vibes attracting more happy, positive people, events and things into your life.
And whether you believe in woo-woo or not, you won’t be able to deny the direct link between gratitude and happiness.
It is almost impossible to practise gratitude and to remain negative. Because once you start physically writing down the things you are grateful for it will bring a smile to your face. Even simple things like:
- The sun shining in a blue sky
- Your toddler giggling
- A funny film that made you laugh out loud
- A delicious dinner with your partner
- Your boss complimenting you at work
- Getting the last parking spot right outside your house
- Climbing into clean bed sheets
- Losing yourself in a good book
- Relaxing in a hot, bubble bath
Once you note and appreciate these things in your life, then your life will start to become a happier place to be.
How do I practise gratitude?
It’s simple and costs nothing.
You can buy a fancy paper and pens or you can simply write yourself an email or draw up a list in a Google Doc.
At the start or the end of the day (whichever suits you best) take 5 minutes to write down everything that comes to mind that you are grateful for.
If you are like me in the early days you can write down the basics – like a roof over your head and food in your belly.
Little by little you will notice more and more things happening that you are grateful for.
And as you notice these and write them down you will start to feel happier and more in charge of your life.
All of which are pretty good reasons to start practising gratitude today I reckon 😉
If you would like some help along the way then you should totally grab my 10 day guide to falling (back) in love with your life.
This has helped numerous people to pull themselves back from a dark place, to enjoy what they have in their lives and to laugh and live life again to the full.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to start practising your gratitude!
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