Monday, March 14, 2011

The power of gratitude


Feeling down in the dumps? Look around, inspiration and happiness is right in front of you


As I sat down at my computer to write this week’s column, I looked around and noticed behind a growing pile of paperwork, photo frames, calendars, CDs and other shrapnel, there is a cork board which I had turned into a “vision board”.
And to my amazement almost everything on it has come true.
Vision boards are a tool used to activate the law of attraction which aims to manifest your dreams into reality.
The board is simply a collection of drawings, cut-out pictures, writing or lists of things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become.
I first made one out of sheer desperation about 18 months ago when my husband and I were on struggle street
A few months later, things started to change for the better, and whether the board helped or not, it did keep me thinking positively when our situation seemed dire.
Like most people my family has goals and dreams, and every day we talk about how we’re going to get there.
Looking at our vision board, one of the really big goals which seemed impossible to reach 18 months ago, came true on Saturday.
As I ticked off all the things that had come into our lives that we had dreamed of, I realised I did not have the really, REALLY important stuff on there.

We can be grateful for getting something shiny and new that we had saved our pennies for, but sometimes we forget to be grateful for our health and for the people in our lives.
I am very lucky to have such beautiful, funny, compassionate, intelligent and healthy children, as well as a supportive, strong and loving husband.
Sure parenting, and marriage, takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but I spend far too much time getting cranky at the small stuff, instead of basking in the bright stuff.
There are many ways we can do this, but simply being thankful is the easiest.
Yes, I know I’m sounding conceited, but if you’re struggling with fertility issues, having behaviour problems with your kids, not connecting with your partner, or generally feeling depressed, then it’s time to be inspired.
It’s amazing how one simple positive action can change so much in your life, and I found some excellent tips on this subject at the appropriately named Zen Habits website.
The power of gratitude can make you a more positive person, better mother and wife, better daughter or aunt or friend.
When you’re having a hard day, try and change your thoughts to gratitude. Be thankful for what you have, instead of worrying about what you don’t have.
Instead of getting mad at someone, be grateful for them. Have they ever done anything nice for you? Find something positive about them, and focus on that.
Instead of criticising your partner, which will only deteriorate your marriage, show gratitude for the good things they do.
Instead of complaining about your kids, be grateful for them.
With Miss Five starting school this year, my mornings have become busier but I hate it when I hear myself say “hurry up or we’ll be late”.
It’s not her fault we’re late - it’s mine for not being up earlier, or more organised.
When you face a major challenge in your life, such as job loss, turn your misfortune around by looking at it as an opportunity to try something new, to learn, to grow or to become a better person.
When you suffer a tragedy, be grateful for the life you still have. Love the people who are still in your life and show appreciation to them.
People who are grateful have higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.
This is not to say that negative aspects of life should be ignored, but more about trying to change our way of thinking to help us through the hard times.
A healthy self esteem starts with a good relationship with ourselves.
As Dr Phil says, “you have the power to be miserable the rest of your life, or you can choose to be happy”.
Sometimes we focus too much on “what went wrong” and get stuck in self-pity.
It’s time to choose to be happy, and since you are your child’s biggest role model, just imagine the positive influence you will be having on your family.

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