The Way Towards Feeling Good
For myself, I know that I do enjoy life more when I am happy. Who doesn't, except maybe Cruella in 101 Dalmations.
Apparently, she gets her happiness from stealing it from others, sort of like The Grinch!. The truth of the matter is that it is not happiness that brings us gratitude, it is gratitude that brings us happiness.
This concept sounds simple enough, but I have learned gratitude must be practiced. It is a skill to learn. It is not a one time deal and over with. It must be intentional and consistent. It makes us all feel good to make others feel good.
I read about a good idea that helped me even more than writing about one thing in my journal daily that I was grateful for or a way that I practiced gratitude. It has to feel natural to me if I am going to get the positive benefits. The idea that for me that hit home was to write down one gratitude in my day that stood out and put it in a jar. I like to use a see through pretty jar and write it on small colorful paper. It is such a perfect visual as the jar fills up. So far, I only have 5 pieces of paper in my jar. This practice of mine started on the first day of 2020.
Really it is mind over matter. Let's say that I am having one of those kind of days while driving in traffic. The kind where aggressive drivers seem to be everywhere cutting me off, not taking turns at 4 way stops, running red lights or speeding past me even though I am already going 5 - 10 miles over the speed limit and they give me a hand signal as they zoom by me. It is a time that I use to practice gratitude. Taking in deep breaths and thinking of something that I am grateful for in that moment of frustration. It helps me to not spiral negativity within my thoughts. Sometimes, I simply say out loud to myself in the car, that I am very grateful that my life is not filled with such anger and aggressive expressions as that driver who just behaved so badly.
Another way to help myself feel good is to start the day with what I am grateful for. Is it always easy to do this? Not always. At 4:30 or 5:00 when our youngest puppy gets one of us up, while dressing enough to go out in the cold to take her to do her business, I am thinking over and over to myself, that I truly am grateful to have this little furball wagging her tail, so happy to see me. Licking/kissing me, as if to say, "Good mornin,' Lola. Thank you for hearing me and taking me out. You taught me so well to not ever want to make a mess in my crate."
That is when I really feel grateful. Not only for the happiness in her body language as she lovingly prances to the backdoor but also that I do not have any mess to clean up thanks to her calling out to me.
Every time that I give myself a bit of self-criticism, I like to pair it with an expression of gratitude to myself. It helps me to be kinder and more gentle to myself, more like the way that I talk to others. Why should I exclude myself from this positive gratitude? For an example, I can be really hard on myself if I go over my net carb count by eating or drinking something that I knew I shouldn't have. What good does it do to beat myself up about it? Thinking more of what makes me grateful such as hopping right back on this lifestyle program because look at where it has taken me from a year ago? I look and feel so much better.
We all need to use the words, "Thank you" more than we do. I know that I do. Saying it with intention and to those that I know and some that I don't know personally. Just saying the words thank you to my husband for the things that he does for me without even thinking about how happy it made me, such as bringing back a coffee to my dressing table in the morning. Going out to bring the paper inside. Bringing me flowers weekly! Watching American football with me, especially with all of the college bowl games and the NFL playoffs, even though he is much more of a fan of British football. All of these and many more all deserve a genuine thank you! To the supermarket worker who loads up my trunk with groceries, or the barista who makes my special keto- friendly coffee...THANK YOU! Just because it is someone's job, does not mean they do not deserve a thank you. Watch your child glow with pride when you thank them for doing their chores. It starts to become a habit for them because they can feel the happiness in their hearts. They see how good it makes their momma feel and it carries over to them.
Gratitude is contagious.
I have come to realize that when I practice gratitude it turns the most ordinary moments into extraordinary ones that really fill me with a deep appreciation of being alive. As Einstein wrote, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Easily, one can see that the word gratitude can be exchanged for miracle. Which way do I want to live my life? With gratitude that brings me happiness.