Hands up. Who’s bemoaning this May weather? The brightest month of the year is being taken from us by this incessant cloud, rain, and wind, with just a few rays of sun to show for it. It is easy to let these things get you down, make you feel a bit flat and grim. There is a way of flipping the darkness into light though, and one of those sure-fire ways is to practice some gratitude.
Now, this can all sound kind of preachy and born-again, but I just wanted to share what I have found through the practice of paying attention to my thoughts, ergo being mindful.
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present, the here and now, as it is, no filter, no judgment. If you can master the knack of it, all bad stuff seems okay, because the badness of it has no real meaning or story, and the good stuff still feels good. That’s the way it works.
Like everyone else, I have my share of negative thoughts, they take on the lion’s share of nonsense in my brain in fact. (Studies reckon that about 75% of our thoughts are negative, and most of those we keep thinking repeatedly.) It is also nigh on impossible to think about two things at once. In any one nano-moment, you are generally thinking about one thing.
It is also hard to be negative when you are being grateful. Try it. You cannot just take my word, believe me. Just think of something bad, and then turn your attention to something you feel some gratitude for. Go big, go tiny. I am grateful that the sun rose this morning, that I am safe in my house away from a land where they launch rockets at each other, for my omelette this morning; hell, my omelette-making skills! For all this, I am grateful if only I choose to pay attention to it and do not take it all for granted. And while I do it, I chase those damaging negative thoughts away. Out with the old and in with the new.
Try a gratitude practice yourself; keeping a journal is good but this sounds like something else you must tie yourself to. Start writing down (in a journal if you like or just on the back of an envelope) 3 things you are grateful for each morning or before you go to bed – or both if the mood takes you. Do it for a few days in a row to establish the habit.
If you are a mindful meditator, I believe the practice of gratitude comes from meditation because we stop chasing and become aware of the smaller pleasures in life. The more you do a body scan meditation for example, the more you will have gratitude for the workings of your body, rather than lament the not-so-well functioning parts. Give it a break, it is doing pretty well to keep you alive.
Make it formal or informal and see if the positive thoughts nudge out the bad.
Be grateful at least for the opportunity to choose your thoughts.