Gratitude has also become a very popular concept in recent times but please do not mistake its power. If we look at the Cambridge dictionary to have gratitude means;
“the feeling or quality of being grateful”
“a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something”
The human brain is wired for negativity, most of our thoughts go to the negative. We get stuck in the past and dwell on what went wrong. This getting stuck in the negative is how we survived for many many eons. But! And this is a big but; our world has shifted so much from the danger of eat or be eaten, survival of the fittest that what danger means to us now is very different.
As such, being wired for an ever-present catastrophe is actually not helpful. What we need to be able to do these days is have an awareness of our thoughts and be able to decide, is this approach helping me right now?
An example, years and years ago my youngest was old enough to catch the train home from school. We talked about it, planned, it, practiced it and the big day came. Off he went to school and the plan was I would pick him up at the train station at 345pm.
All day I felt worried, my brain was full of the dreaded “what if’s.”
“What if he gets lost”
“What if he misses the stop”
“What if he gets kidnapped”
As a parent, I am sure you can agree some of these thoughts are reasonable some are not. As the day went on, then more these “what if’s” occupied my brain the sicker, and sicker I felt. Finally, time came for me to leave to pick him up. As I drove toward the train station I was just around the corner when I heard an ambulance siren. I remember distinctly catching my first thought and it was simply……
Immediately my heart raced, I began sweating, my brain raced, and adrenaline surged in my body all within microseconds. I drive around the corner and there he is at the agreed spot, as proud as punch! Was I relieved? Absolutely I was, but the fight or flight response had set in and my physiology had completely changed. It took quite a while for me to calm down from this one thought.
Now, of course some of us are wired to respond this way, some are not, and I am one of those gifted people (insert sarcastic laugh at myself). However I don’t think I could measure the damage I have done to myself over the years with these automatic catastrophic thoughts.
What we now know to be true, is that coping with adversity, comes down to managing our thought world, training the monkey brain. A great way to begin to train our brain is to practice gratitude. It is simple, yet it is life changing.
How you do it is up to you. But when I encourage my clients to begin this powerful habit I get them to have a journal to keep their thoughts in and then on a daily basis to find 3 things they are grateful for. Now if you are like me, in the beginning this can be challenging but like anything stick with it and it gets easier.
Things like, “I am grateful for the rain,” I am “grateful for the chat I had with my teenager last night,” “I am grateful for the roof over my head.”
Simple things that you notice you are thankful for.
You may be reading this thinking, it cannot be that simple, but I promise this really makes a significant shift. The power in gratitude is that you cannot be in a place of gratitude without being optimistic, optimism is hope and hope is resilience.
I challenge you, 21 days of gratitude, just see what happens
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Who is Kylie Warry?
Kylie is all about helping people to overcome barriers in their lives. She is a Consultant Rehabilitation Counsellor author and trainer with a specific interest in resilience and improving communication.
Kylie graduated from the University of New England with an Honours degree Behavioural Science (1993), and a Post Graduate in Psychology (1995). She has been a practicing Rehabilitation Counsellor and Mental Health Clinician for more than 20 years
Kylie is passionate about the health benefits of work and truly believes that everyone has the right to meaningful and rewarding employment. She believes that with the right tools and supports we can all live our best life, regardless of our circumstances.
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