Mindful Monday; Gratitude
Welcome back to another Mindful Monday! I recently received an email asking me how I seem to stay so optimistic when life is falling apart around us and it made me stop and reflect about what it is that allows me to smile in the hardest of times, which is being tested for all of us these days. My answer, as cheesy as it may sound, was my Gratitude Practice. While I admit, it does sound cheesy, the science is clear – gratitude rewires our brains to make us happier.
I am Human too….
Here is the email (An excerpt – I don’t want to share the personal parts of their email):
” Dear Alicia,
I love what you guys are doing with the new daily conversations and tips. I especially look forward to Mindful Mondays. Since March I have been riddled with anxiety. It has been greatly compounded by the feelings of loneliness and isolation. My need to hug my friends and family is overwhelming at times. I was wondering if you could share a tip on how you stay so optimistic. I know your life recently has been above and beyond the average persons stress which for me has been unbearable. But you continue to show up with a smile. So is it real? What is your secret?”
The first response to this was “Wow, if only they knew…” But I took a minute and realized, they did know. They acknowledged that my life has been difficult recently (More on that soon!) and are looking for the set of tools I am using to cope with that. So I did some self examination. What are my habits? What do I think I do differently than others when faced with a difficult situation?
The answer I discovered is in my ability to practice deep gratitude in every circumstance. I allow myself to feel the negative emotions, but I don’t allow them to stay. I sit with them, observe them, and find what they are there to teach me in that moment. Then I am able to find what I can be grateful for. Gratitude literally alters the brain chemistry, making you feel happier. Yet our brains are wired for survival, which means we focus on the negative (negativity bias) as a way to prevent us from repeating danger. The good news is we can actively train our brains to focus instead on the positive through gratitude. Here are the tangible action steps you can take this week to make the shift towards happiness now:
- Check in with yourself every morning. How are you feeling? Really feeling? Allow those feelings to be there at that moment – don’t stuff them away or tell yourself to stop being dramatic. Just feel them for a moment. Get curious about them. Ask yourself questions about those feelings to better understand where they are coming from. Validate their existence, but then move on.
- Each night write down 3 things that you are grateful for. If you had a bad day, really try looking at that negativity and try to flip it around to see the good in it. Even if it is a lesson learned from the experience.
- At the end of the week, look at your gratitude journal and find a common person or event. Write the person a letter of gratitude to grow the happiness beyond just yourself and spread it to others as well. Not only will this increase your own happiness, but also bring it to others. Can you imagine the world if we all expressed genuine gratitude towards each other? That small thing could literally change the world, but it starts with YOU taking that step.
Give these a try this week and let us know how it goes. I always look forward to hearing from all of you, so please keep the emails and DM’s coming!
With Love & Gratitude,