I used to be one of those people who would get caught in a downward spiral of self-pity if something went wrong in my life, even if it was just a minor setback. I was a “catastrophiser”, and would let the little things ruin my day (and the days of everyone around me). I still do this sometimes, but I’m getting better at stepping back to look at the bigger picture when something doesn’t go right, and realising that things usually aren’t as devastating as I first think they are.
While I’ve been on maternity leave for the past year, I allowed myself a “pass” from filling the gap in my life where work would usually be with other obligations, and instead have been focusing on rest, embracing the simplicity of each day, and immersing myself in my passions and my children. Yes, this is all a bit fluffy, but after years of one big life change after another, combined with lots of stress and piling on one extra-curricular responsibility after another, I needed the fluffy. So I have been consciously trying to bring gratitude in to my life more and more regularly. I try to give myself a moment or two each day to stop, look around me, and appreciate what I have and who I have. I don’t take my blessings for granted, I know that we are extremely lucky, and I want my children to understand this too as they get older. And what I’ve found about gratitude is that it’s a wonderful way to encourage positivity, a beautiful way to start any day, and when things go wrong, it works wonders for pulling you back from a sad and sorry mental state before it turns toxic. If you combine it with mindfulness, the act of shutting out additional distractions around you and the flurry of thoughts in your brain, and concentrating only on what is happening in the present moment, then you are on to a power combo!
If you feel like you are getting caught up in the frenzy of modern life and need to bring yourself back to the basics, or just want to inject a little extra happiness in to your days, then you should give it a go. It’s like good manners and smiling- it doesn’t cost anything! Even if it’s just for a second or two, it’s like a little boost of Vitamin G, a little goes a long way. Here are some different methods that I have been using to remember my gratitude as regularly as possible:
“These are the golden days”
There’s a print that you can buy from Down That Little Lane, which has these words in gold foil on a white background. I’ve seen a few bloggers post photos of this print displayed proudly in their own homes, and ever since I first saw it, the words just stuck with me. They float up to the forefront of my mind from time to time, and whenever I think of those words I know that it’s so true, and it’s probably always going to be true, no matter what stage of our lives we are at. This print is on my wishlist, I need it on my wall.
Looking at photos
I love looking back at past photos of the kids, they change and grow so fast that individual phases sometimes get lost in the infinite space of our minds. Blink and it’s gone forever. But not if you have photos. I’m a big believer of taking many photos, and photos of everything – not just the milestone moments but the ordinary passing of everyday life too. Seeing my kids grow up before my eyes through the photographs I’ve taken makes me feel grateful to have these two gorgeous little people in my life, and just makes me smile. Moose loves nothing more than looking at photos of herself as a baby and talking about that time, too.
Yoga never fails to make me feel good. And the more you practise it, the more you get out of it. I have been practising yoga for about 9 or 10 years now, and I still find it fun, revitalising or relaxing depending on what kind of sequence you’re doing. You learn all about your body, where your sore points are, where you are flexible and where you are not, which stretches work best for you to treat aches or stiffness in different areas, and how to use your breath and the poses to calm both your body and your mind. Bliss. There are a lot of dedicated yoga channels on YouTube, the one I have been following and loving lately is Yoga with Adriene. Check out the “30 Days of Yoga” series if you are a beginner, it’s a great way to start.
I know I got this idea from another blog, but I can’t for the life of me figure out which one. It’s the most simple thing in the world, but it’s so effective. The idea is to start each morning, as soon as you wake up, by saying “thank you”. Say it out loud, whisper it, say it to yourself in your head, direct it out to the universe, or direct it to whatever God, deity or power you believe in. Say it however you like, but say it, and you will likely find yourself smiling and thinking about all that is good in your life today. It’s the most positive way to start the day that I know. I say it in my head and find myself looking up to the sky when I’m thinking it, sometimes I say it during the day rather than first thing in the morning. But it always makes me feel thankful for another day and the little moments of happiness that can be found every day.
The memory jar
I came across this idea a while ago at Maxabella Loves, and I wanted to do it ever since. Finally this year I remembered! I love our little memory jar, and I can’t wait to open it together at New Years and read all the little notes I’ve popped in there, recording all the happy and special moments we’ve had together this year. I think this is such a great idea for helping you to look back on “the year that was” and appreciating the good times, before looking forward to a new year ahead.
3 good things that happened today
I started doing this recently when I was feeling a bit down, and I realised I just needed to feel that there was some good in each day. So I went looking for it, and decided I would find 3 good things that happened each day, and write them down. Some days I felt like I was clutching at straws to find the second or third thing, other days I could have gone on and on with listing good things. But the point was, I was able to find some good in each day. I proved to myself that even when it’s been a bad day and I feel ready to throw in the towel, there were still little things to be thankful for.
Do you have any other handy methods for finding your gratitude?