How is it that some people are so damn lucky? And happy. Nothing seems to go wrong for them. In fact, everything seems to go so right. All. The. Time. They’re never stressed by the ‘life stuff’ around them and just seem to be having a better time of it. Annoying, right? You could be that person – yes, REALLY – in a few weeks. Seriously. Science is absolutely behind me on this one; you really can change how happy you are.
All it takes is a bit of a gamble on something you might think is a bit 'woo woo' and 5-10 minutes of your time every single day. ‘What is it?’ I hear you cry. Gratitude. Stay with me here. Stop the eye rolling. Please keep reading. If you don’t think this simple practice is going to turn your life around, then you haven’t tried it. But, if there is anything you are not happy with in your life, if you’re always feeling stressed and are generally overwhelmed with life (even if it all looks great on paper), you NEED to read on.
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
Quite simply (and there has been a lot of work to substantiate this), what you focus on increases. So, if you spend most of your time thinking how awful you look or how crappy you feel, guess what, you’re going to feel worse. Think of it a bit like using the internet or even shopping on Amazon. These websites remember what your commonly searched items are to come up with preferences for you or ads for things you might like to see. It doesn’t matter what you are searching for, the poor servers can’t differentiate, they will just offer up more of the same because that is what you want, right? If I’m looking for yoga equipment, every time I go on line or log on, I’ll see ads for that stuff.
Although we humans are much more sophisticated than shopping websites, our brains work in a surprisingly similar way. If you’re always thinking or speaking negatively about your body, your health or, well, anything, you will always be presented with so-called ‘truths’ to underscore your negative thinking. Yes, YOU are actually seeking out the trouble. Don’t shoot the messenger. I don’t make the rules.
Take a moment to think about that. A classic is example is that bad luck comes in threes. So true. But the ONLY reason WHY that is the case is that you are actively looking for other stuff to go wrong so you can prove the point. It’s totally ridiculous, but most of us do it.
The answer is not to ‘just not think negative or bad thoughts’. Reversing this is more straight-forward than you might think but you do need to put in some work. Not much, but you need to be consistent. The idea is that you cram your life full with so many good ones you crowd out the bad stuff. And it’s a lot of fun.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GRATITUDE
The dictionary definition describes gratitude as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
There are many benefits of gratitude: you feel better, you’re less jealous, more resilient, more relaxed and you create happier memories.
It improves you as a person: you’re less self-centred, more caring and thoughtful. Your self esteem sky rockets, you’re less materialistic, and more optimistic. There are knock-on effects for your relationships, too. You are kinder and nicer, and your relationships blossom. In turn, your health turns around: you feel better about being in the skin you’re in (less emotional or binge eating), your sleep starts to improve, you’re more motivated to make healthy changes like eating well and taking regular exercise. It’s likely work colleagues and your bosses will also notice the change: with less negative thought, you are clearer, more practical, more focused, network better and are work more effectively with others.
Who doesn’t want a bit of that?
PUT IT INTO PRACTICE
There are only a couple of rules.
1) You must start the day, before you’ve even got out of bed, by telling yourself that something truly amazing and wonderful is going to happen today. It will be something unexpected, exciting and awesome. This sets up a powerful intention for the day. It’s an important step, don’t skip it or the magic won’t work.
2) Believe in blessings and miracles. Make it your job to seek out the joy in every situation, the good fortune, the luck or the beauty and mentally comment to yourself on these. This takes a little practice but it’s worth it.
Bad day? No problem. Here are a few examples of how you spin the situation: ‘I might be stuck in a huge traffic jam but I have some amazing music to sing along to’. Even if nothing seems to be going right for you one day, celebrate the beautiful blossom that’s appeared in your garden, the scent of grass after rainfall. Make a point of looking for the good stuff. It will start to come automatically soon but for now, you need to go out of your way to find it.
I’d like to suggest you commit to a 30 day challenge where you make it priority to do this stuff. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed and will emerge, like a butterfly, a new, better and happier person.
If you’re thinking you can’t be bothered, it’s going to add no more than five minutes to your day but the benefits can be HUGE. Just check out the big list of positives above that could be yours at the end of it.
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU DO IT
There are a couple of things I’ve discovered on my journey that I would recommend, but I’d love to hear from you to find out what other resources you have found to help.
Thank and Grow Rich by Pam Grout – I have read various books on gratitude but this is my favourite. You can get it in all the usual formats. I have it both as a book and as an audiobook so I can listen to it while walking or driving (you’re first Audible audiobook is free, so why not put it to good use - go here to get it).
Gratitude journals can also help. Strictly speaking, they’re really not necessary but it is a good practice to add into your bedtime routine a few minutes where you list at least five things you are grateful for. The important thing is that you come up with something different each day. Even if you are having the worst day ever, you can be grateful that you are alive and able bodied (assuming you are). There are loads of different options but this one is perfect in many ways. It’s filled with inspirational quotes and lined pages to write down your gratitudes.
Another one to consider is 100happydays.com, a website that encourages you to snap images of something that has made you happy every single day (and that’s the key) and post to social media (even if the privacy for these posts is just to you), or even just email the pic to nice people at 100happydays.com.
I know this mindfulness, happiness business is all quite new, but the science goes back a long, long time. There is such a thing as the ‘biology of belief’ where research shows that what you think can alter your DNA and cause changes (both good and bad) through the body. If you need more proof on the power of mindset, think about all those drug trials where a new product is stacked up against a placebo. That’s not to say a drug might not be effective as a sugar pill, just that the power of thinking you’re taking something to help can reap it’s own rewards. If you like this kind of techy stuff, I invite you to check out Bruce Lipton’s book The Biology of Belief or the TED talk on the placebo effect by Emma Bryce.
I’d love to hear how you are getting on because this is important stuff and it can help revolutionise your life.
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