Next time negativity comes knocking, be too busy feeling gratitude to answer the door.
We, as a society, are complainers
Almost exactly 4 years ago, I came to the realization — through practicing gratitude — that I complain too much. That we all complain too much. We’ve all done it, bumped into someone we know and felt the need to start complaining. About the weather. The roads. The news we watched last night. But the question is, why? Why do we feel drawn to complain? Drawn to the negatives? And it is only in the unraveling of that question, that we begin to understand that conditioning we have allowed to mold us and to shape us. Maybe it stems from us not wanting to brag or boast about the great things in our lives. Or maybe we don’t want to create a disconnect between us and others by revealing those thing that really make us proud. Whatever the reason is, we — as a society — complain too much!
Becoming aware of our negative tendencies
These discoveries all began with some homework I was meant to do as part of 28 days of gratitude from the book The Magic. In fact, it was this book that changed my life. One of the practices to complete was to go a whole day without complaining.
I mean, how hard could that really be? The only catch was that if you did find yourself complaining, you had to save yourself by finishing the sentence with but, I am grateful for… So I set off on my day, an extra pep in my step, for I was going to be extra positive that day. I met up with some girlfriends for a walk around town. And within seconds, boom, complaints! Now, I was armed with my extra positivity, so of course I didn’t join in. I just smiled to myself and nodded my head. Fast forward 15 minutes and I’d had to use my saving grace but…, 3 times already! Why was it so hard for me to talk about positive things? Even when I’d gone into that day, aware, equipped and ready to be positive?
Becoming more mindful of our thoughts
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That realization about myself, about society, literally lit a fire under my butt. I didn’t move on to the next practice in the book the next day. I decided to take on the challenge again the next day. And the next. And the next. Until one day, I went a whole day without having to use a but… statement a single time! It was the awareness this practice brought to my life that created a change within me. By being more aware, of my thoughts, I was able to choose which thoughts I was going to voice. And eventually, that even evolved into being able to choose which thoughts I would even allow to develop in my mind. Looking back, I can say this was my first encounter with mindfulness!
So in having this choice — this choice between positive or negative thoughts — why would we choose the negatives? Everyday we may encounter struggles. We may encounter things that don’t quite go our way. We can’t control the external. But during these encounters, we can control the internal! We can choose to see the light in all darkness. And we can choose to find the blessings in every trial.
We attract more of what we put our focus on
I strongly believe that what you spend your energy focusing on, the more you create of this focus. For example, if I focus on the fact I don’t have enough money to buy the things I want to buy, I will continue to create a lack of money.
However if I focus on the blessings I have in my life, the things I have been able to pay for (the heating in my house, the phone I use everyday, the food that nourishes my body), I will create feelings of gratitude around money, thus attracting more money into my life. (But, I’ll get more into the law of attraction in a future blog!)
So let’s focus on the positives. Let’s focus on what we have to be grateful for!
How you can use gratitude to change your life
So, how can you begin to see changes in your life? Start with the simple activity of noticing your thoughts. Try to go a whole day without complaining! Know that you have the but, I am grateful for… to save you if needed! To add more gusto to your gratitude practice, start every single morning journalling 10 things you are grateful for. And I mean, every single morning. Before you check your phone. Before you check your emails. Grab that pen and make that list. If you need help getting started, you can focus on these 10 different aspects of your life: health, body, money, success, hobbies, material things, work, passions, relationships and nature. It can be as simple as: “I am grateful for the air I breathe.”