Having an Attitude of Gratitude
It’s been quite a year of ups and downs and I know for me there have been times when I just wanted to bury my head in the sand and ignore what is going on in the world around me. I don’t enjoy conflict or drama. And while I like a challenge, I prefer them to be a fun challenge, like a good game of Charades, not a pandemic, or a year packed with a number of triggering things that are out of my control. So what is the best solution for keeping focused on the positive?
I read a Forbes article about how to avoid negative thought patterns and it included 11 ways to avoid negative thought patterns. I read the first one and it immediately struck a chord within me. I have a tendency to try to avoid my negative thoughts, I push them down and compartmentalize and try to focus on other things. I’ve even avoided going to my mailbox for a week because I was afraid of getting a bill that I knew was coming from the IRS! But, what I find is more powerful than avoiding the problem, is facing it head on. It can be quite powerful to assess the situation, create a plan, and then deal with it. Repressing and avoiding it doesn’t make the problem go away and is actually a drain on my energy.
Here is that first way to avoid negative thought patterns from the Forbes.com article:
1. Speak To The Negative Thought
Practice becoming aware of when these thoughts come up. Are you tired, hungry, disappointed, stressed or something else? When we try to ignore negative thoughts, they don’t go away, they continue to pop up. To counteract them, recognize them. Let your internal voice say, “I’m recognizing a negative thought; it’s a story I’m telling myself, and it’s not true.” This squashes negativity pretty fast. – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC
I love that this piece of advice ends with “it’s a story I’m telling myself, and it’s not true.” I am part of a mentoring group and one of the phrases we often use is, “What story are you telling yourself about what’s happening in this situation?”
When we remove emotion and look directly at the data surrounding a problem, we can deal with it much more rationally. I know that for me, I’m very emotional, and so I get frantic when I am facing something scary.
Read the full article about combatting negative thoughts here.
An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of Happiness
The Power of Gratitude
When I watched the video above, I’ll admit, I got emotional. It was surprising to me how much joy I received from watching others expressing their gratitude. What I liked about this video is that it mentioned that the people who came in to do this study started out the least happy and ended up with the most increase in happiness. What does that mean? If you are having a bad day, the way to combat it, is to show appreciation to others. This seems counterintuitive. I don’t know about you, but when I’m upset, I don’t feel like being thankful. It reminds me of when I’m feeling lethargic and tired and I go and workout. I don’t want to workout when I’m tired, but I find that when I do, I often feel energized.
Laura Trice: The Power of Saying Thank You
The Importance of Appreciation
Why are we afraid of asking for the things that we need? Laura Thrice talks about taking responsibility for asking for the things that she needs? She mentioned that one of her clients has waited 25 years for his wife to say “Thank you for being the bread winner.” Laura’s challenge is simple, “Be honest about the praise you need to hear.”
When we look at the overall impact that appreciation has on our happiness, it seems to come down to taking time each day to appreciate things and others in your life, as well as taking the time to communicate your needs when it comes to feeling appreciated.
Simple Ways to Stay Thankful
“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” — Mahatma Gandhi
I find that when I am around negativity, that I become sucked into it like a black hole. Reading negative comments on social media, watching too much news, comparing my life to others – these are all ways that I find myself spiraling into unhappiness. Here are some ways that are proven to help you be happy:
- Get a gratitude journal and write down the ways that you are happy each day.
- Use positive self talk to combat the negative voices in your head
- Understand that the things that happen to you aren’t always in your control, but how you respond to them are
- Exercise and go for a walk when feeling overwhelmed, walking has been shown to improve mood and overall health.
- Tell the people in your life how thankful you are for them.
- Write thank you notes
- Be mindful of your attitude and focus on ways to be positive
- Remind yourself that challenges are often opportunities to grow and learn
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