I find it troublesome how easy it is for our minds to latch on to the negative events that occur in life. It’s a constant in our daily routine: we complain about something every day, it may be about a person and something they did, or work, or family members, or something we saw on TV, heard on the radio. We are so quick to complain – and the sad reality is, we don’t recognise we do it so often.
There are two ways to deal with this: we either cut out what bothers us, we would probably be left with no job, or people around us if we did, because in reality, everything and everyone will be a pain to deal with at one time or another.
The other way, is to practice gratitude – this isn’t some hippy-dip method to float off into solitude and leave the rest of the world to itself – although the desired outcome is up to you. Practicing gratitude is all about learning to recognise the positives that occur around us, and to be present. Essentially, we are what we think and what we think, we attract. It’s the Law of the Universe: positive energy attracts the same, negative energy attracts the same.
The world is a beautiful place, until we turn on the news – sometimes we can contribute to what is happening; we can help people, sometimes we can’t. We don’t to ignore the issues that go on around us, but we do want to learn how to manage the amount that these issues consume us.
Below is how I practice gratitude, and if you ever need, hopefully you can take what helps you.
Recognise what went well each day
Isn’t it funny how you notice when your shoes hurt, but how often when you wear a great pair of shoes, trainers, flats that you find comfortable, do you think, oh wow I love the feeling of these shoes? The same with commutes to work; living in London, we are so used to being crammed into trains like chickens in a coup, but when you get on an empty train, do you feel grateful enough to smile at strangers for the rest of your journey? Or are you thinking about all the work you need to get on with that day? This is what we want to recognise.
Some people keep a gratitude journal and I would love to, but I don’t always have the time, and I know it’s essential to make time for it but it’s not always a reality. Saying this, I like the idea of keeping a gratitude jar. All you need is a mason jar, or a vase would work, and each night write down one thing that you were grateful for from that particular day – it can be something you learned, something your partner did, someone you met, having a seat on an empty train to work, something you felt you did well at work – feeling good about yourself is a form of gratitude as you should appreciate you!
Do this for every night and before you know it, you have a whole jar full of words and memories that will make you smile when you need it most. Also, doing this evokes positivity so you adopt this mental attitude daily and thinking about all the good parts of your day before you sleep will contribute to a great night’s sleep and luscious dreams.
Vision the bigger picture
Only you know what your hopes and dreams are and what you want to do with your beautiful life, keep that in mind always.
I read a great piece the other day about Chelsea Handler (the U.S comedian), she worked at a café but she knew she wouldn’t be spending her life filling table salt. She knew this because she had other plans for her life, mostly she envisioned other plans for her life and she worked hard towards them. Eventually she got to where she wanted. The most important thing is focus. Sometimes our plans may not work out as we want them to, but keep in mind, the grand view always comes after a long, tiresome walk!
You don’t have to shout your plans to the world. Keep a log and when you reach a goal, pat yourself on the back. I always find when I don’t tell anyone about where I have reached, it feels sacred and the moment belongs to me and no-one else.
Plus, goals motivate us. Envisioning a better life motivates us. Helping others motivates us. So this step is vital as each milestone you fulfil towards that picture will fill you with gratitude.
Repeat your own mantra
I love mantras because they reaffirm our purpose and goal. I love making up my own mantras. They can be a different one every day, or the same, it’s up to you. I like to switch them up, sometimes it’s “You Got This”, in Beyoncé’s voice, because why not. Most times it’ll be my own voice, because I love Beyoncé, but I am me. Whatever works for you, repeat the words when you get nervous or when you think you don’t got it, because you absolutely do!
Don’t get caught up in other people’s issues.
Social media can be a cesspool of negativity at the best of times. Sometimes, I’ll be on Instagram and read comments where someone would say something nasty about a person’s Instagram post – I’ve often said stuff back because I cannot tolerate rudeness and I don’t understand trolls who just need to go on a page they don’t have any interest in, just to be mean. It upsets me how much women get hate from women, it upsets me how much religion is bashed, it upsets me how much humans do not understand humans and how racist some people can be in this day and age. I felt I needed to stick up for people, but in actual fact, I was getting caught up in the conversations and the person who posted it would ignore it. So why did I care so much? Why couldn’t I ignore it?
I know it’s hard to leave alone when you think you can make a difference, and sometimes you can, but I’ve learnt we have to pick which battles we want to fight and for whom. That doesn’t mean you don’t care, it just means you don’t bring anyone’s unwanted negativity to your mind. The less negativity you surround yourself with, the more you open yourself up to gratitude.
Save time for loved ones
I say this because we rarely speak because we’ve listened, but more to reply. There’s a big difference when you listen whilst having a phone in your hand scrolling through social media, or reading the news, when your family member or friend is talking to you, to when you actually listen. Multitasking is a great attribute to have, but don’t let it interrupt when engaging in conversation.
Appreciation for people comes from knowing that we are in the here and now, and that they are here trying to engage with us. To be truly grateful for someone is to spend time with them, talk to them and listen, with respect, for then you can act, with kindness and love.
How do you practice gratitude?