When we are dealing with challenges with our health, annoying symptoms or simply aren’t feeling our best, it is so easy to focus on the negative and get frustrated with how we are feeling.
We have the tendency to purely focus on what’s wrong instead of everything that is right.
We have all been in that situation where we can only think about how exhausted we are, or how overwhelmed we’re feeling, or how much our head is pounding. Once negative thoughts cross our mind, they tend to take over.
This tendency to focus on negative thoughts is not our fault. Our brains are actually designed to focus on negative things over positive things, with our minds placing five times as much emphasis on negative aspects of our life compared to positive ones. From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes sense. Our brain is always looking to keep us safe and help us survive, so it places more focus on what can harm us and other negative aspects in our life. This negativity bias not only means our brain is more aware of negative aspects in our life, but holds on to negative thoughts longer than the positive ones. I’m sure we have all seen this play out in our lives, we can receive a multitude of incredibly flattering compliments, but we can’t get our mind off that one snarky comment made.
The good news is, we can reset our mindset to allow it to embrace more positivity over negativity. A simple way of doing this is to develop a regular gratitude practice. Incorporating gratitude practises into our lives trains our brain to stop focusing on all the negative things and to be more aware of the good in our lives.
Gratitude has been proven to do a lot more than simply reset your mindset. Not surprisingly, it can help you boost your mood and reduce your stress, but it can also build your self-esteem and subconsciously encourage healthy habits because you have a better appreciation for your body, so you take better care of yourself. It can also help you to be more empathetic towards others and improve your relationships. It is incredible to think that taking a few minutes each day to think about what you are thankful for can have such an amazing impact on so many aspects of your life.
To get started, you can simply take a few minutes each day to intentionally think of what you are thankful for. To help build this habit, you can incorporate it into your daily routine by doing it alongside something you are already doing regularly, such as brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or driving to work.
For some people, when they start out this can feel a bit uncomfortable and some people can feel a bit stuck. If you want some guidance, try some of these prompts to get you started:
What is something, big or small, that brought me joy today?
What is something positive that happened today?
What is something I was happy I was able to do today?
What is something nice that someone for me today?
What is something nice that I did for someone else today?
Who is someone I appreciate having in my life today?
What is something I am grateful to have today?
What is a challenge I overcame today?
What progress have you made towards your wellness goals today?
What is something about myself that I am proud of?
What is an attribute I love about myself?
What is one thing I am happy my body allows me to do?
Your gratitude practise can look like whatever you want. You can simply take a few moments to reflect what you are grateful for, or you can find other ways of expressing your gratitude.If you are looking for other ways to embrace a mindset of gratitude, try these habits:
Share your gratitude. Be intentional with expressing your appreciation with others in your life. It can be as easy as an impromptu text or a letter to tell them how appreciative you are to have them in your life. This not only makes you feel amazing, but imagine how great it would make the person receiving it feel. It is hard to believe, but research has found that the positive mental and emotional impact of sending someone a letter of gratitude can last up to one month later. Maybe you can set the intention of sharing at least one gratitude text, letter, email or call each week.
Find the good in negative situations. When we go through a difficult situation, like a miscommunication with a colleague or possibly our day doesn’t go as planned, it is so easy to only focus on all the things that went wrong, but I encourage you to take time to reflect on the good that came out of the situation. Maybe you learned what can derail your health goals so you are more mindful of that in the future, maybe you were able to broach a difficult conversation with someone that you were putting off, or maybe in the end it worked out for the best. Get in the habit of finding the good in all situations, even if it is not easy to see.
Collect your gratitude. Keeping a list of what you are grateful for, whether in a journal or gratitude jar, can be a visual reminder of all the incredible things in our life. It can also be helpful to read on days where we find our negative thoughts have taken over and we need a mindset reset.
Just like any habit, the practice of gratitude will become more comfortable and more second nature the more you do it. Overtime, you will find you no longer need prompts and you will find yourself unintentionally acknowledging all the positive things throughout your day.
I hope you decide to explore this life changing habit and get to witness all the benefits first hand. It is truly incredible that such a simple thing can have such a meaningful impact on so many aspects of your life. I guarantee you will feel like you are radiating more positivity in a few short weeks.
Want to learn more?
Check out this blog on how your limiting beliefs may be holding you back from your wellness goals.
Check out this blog on how positive affirmations can help you achieve your wellness goals.
Check out this blog on how to how visualization can help bring your wellness goals to fruition.