Recently life slapped me around with a whole lot of crap that unfortunately lasted for a good few months. This included a variety of illnesses that hit me hard (including the charming flu that seems to be doing the rounds of Sydney this winter), as well as some other challenges, such as a home burglary that necessitated a lot of unplanned and unpleasant admin and follow up. As it happened this coincided with the most intense period of work I’ve ever experienced as I re-branded my practice, launched a new website and recruited staff, all whilst still continuing to run my practice. So yes – fun times not only for me but for my loved ones too!
Of course eventually things started to gradually settle and life began to return to it’s normal level of semi-chaos as opposed to the full-blown tornado chaos I had been living. I whittled life down to the basics and bunkered down into survival mode, and slowly but surely by focusing on one thing at a time I started to tick things off my ‘to-do’ list, and by taking some much-needed rest, my health also started to improve and I began to feel more human and less zombie.
Emerging out of that period, what really struck me was how grateful I was for the little things that I was now able to do that had been put on hold for the previous few months – and this made me feel surprisingly happy! It was simple things really, such as: hanging out on my couch in my favorite spot, or eating with my kids without being caught up in my head going over the dreaded ‘to do’ list; returning to my beloved yoga classes and enjoying being able to move again; being able to have a chat with my colleagues at work instead of being trapped in my work bunker; and of course gratitude for the little things my family and friends did to make life easier.
This isn’t really surprising though as the science backs this up. Gratitude is the thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. It’s an acknowledgement of the goodness in our life, and it helps us connect with something larger and outside of ourselves. Positive psychology research has consistently shown that cultivating gratitude increases levels of well-being and happiness. It helps people improve their health, deal with adversity and build more connected relationships with others.
If you’d like to cultivate an attitude of gratitude start with a gratitude list or journal. Every day list 3 things that you are grateful for in that day, big or small; see if you can challenge yourself to discover something different to add your list each day; slow down and be on the lookout for these moments in your day; and hardest of all – when life slaps you around see if you can find gratitude somewhere in the crap….