I have never been one to embarrass easily. Wearing a disco ball on my head in public? No problem. But there is something that would have me red as Santa getting caught stealing mom’s Christmas ham. I would never want to have all my thoughts on display for the world to see. Despite my best intentions, my thoughts can sometimes be quite ugly, negative and ungrateful… even embarrassingly so.
Fortunately, my inner thoughts are not going on a jumbo-tron any time soon–shockingly, it turns out the L.A. Lakers have better things to throw up on the big screen. But my negative attitude does affect me and keeps me in a bad headspace without me even realizing it.
Toxic Thoughts No More
Years ago, I began to look into how I can change my toxic thinking. My research revealed a consistent theme: people who intentionally practice gratitude are happier, more successful and more positive.
Notice I said the word “intentionally”. We can choose our thoughts. We don’t have to just think about whatever falls into our head. Feel free to conjure up your own lousy, self-defeating thoughts here. For entertaining enlightenment on this topic, watch “This Is Water” speech here.
There is a choice to focus on the problems or the progress; focus on the ugly or the beautiful. For me, I have to choose gratitude or toxic thoughts start to fester. Making this choice is a tool of unlimited power to direct my mind and my life. Where the mind goes, the person follows.
Double-Dog Dare You
Since learning this, I have made efforts to be grateful on purpose. Here’s examples of how I practice gratitude. I dare you to try one of them this week.
- Pay attention to little beautiful details – look toward the simple beauty of the sky or nature when driving, rather than stew on the tailgater behind me.
- Take note of the little things my husband does for me every day, like making the bed and filling up my water filter (both of which he deems unnecessary.)
- At family dinner, share my favorite part of the day with each member of my family.
- Write out what I have in my life that I am grateful for, even if done frantically at work on a post-it.
- When I am grumpy, call to mind great moments from the week and meditate on all the details.
- Say thank you sincerely to others and take a moment to think about what they have done well.
Let me tell you from experience that gratitude works especially well when I am feeling discouraged, frustrated or just plain lousy. That’s when it really shines. The trick is remembering that I have a choice when I’m feeling lousy to do something about it.
I had the opportunity to share the power of gratitude with you over Thanksgiving with our gratitude survey. We received your responses and they were great! I noticed a consistent trend of people being grateful for their spouses, their family and their health.
If you didn’t get a chance to do our gratitude survey, here’s your chance.
In a year when there seems to be every opportunity to be ungrateful, it is imperative that we choose to be thankful. Choose to be thankful for the blessings in your life, however small they may be: the sight of first snow, a small bit of quality time with your family after a hard day, and another day of life and opportunity. We may not be able to control the workings of the world, but we can certainly change how we think about it.
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