Living with an attitude of gratitude can be challenging when adversity rears its ugly head. Who wants to give thanks for a sore body, an exhausted mind and a pile of unpaid bills? Actually, that’s specifically when you need to ratchet up your attitude the most!
Attitude of Gratitude
It’s true in driving that your focus determines your direction. Distracted driving can lead to near misses, accidents or even fatalities.
The same can be said for distracted living. When you’re focusing on the wrong things, you’re guaranteed to be hip deep in them. Focusing on your troubles leads to griping, whining, pessimism, depression and neurosis. When you look only at the bad things in life, that’s all you will see. It’s a matter of not being able to see the forest for the trees. It’s like missing the parade because you’re obsessing about the litter and road apples on the street. What good does it do you to lock in on the detritus unless you’re getting paid to clean it up?
There’s a freaking parade going on, man! Watch the parade. If you’re not responsible for cleaning up, then don’t worry about the mess.
That’s another trap that people fall into. When you make a mess, by all means, clean it up. When you see a mess that someone else created, it’s not your responsibility. It’s theirs. You can be a Good Samaritan and pitch in to help clean up, but you don’t have to take responsibility for someone else’s mess. You sure don’t have to take responsibility for everyone’s mess.
The world isn’t your stable to muck out. When you focus on cleaning up every mess, you’re just going to keep seeing more and more and more of a mess.
By focusing on the right things, you can steer a clear course and improve your circumstances.What are the right things?
Blessings and Abundance
Okay, so we’ve determined that focusing on crap leads to more crap. Does it logically follow, then, that focusing on blessings and abundance will lead to more blessings and abundance? Aren’t you just being a Pollyanna?
Honestly, what’s the matter with that? Focus on the good things in life and the universe will bloom with miracles and opportunity. Sometimes things will simply fall into your lap and sometimes you have to dig a bit.
Truth be told, in order to find a pearl you have to shuck some oysters. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of oysters. Grotesque, slimy mollusks, blech! But that’s me. My sons, my father and my father-in-law could eat them up like penny candy. For them, oysters are a blessing. Oysters with a pearl inside are a double blessing. While I’m not all that keen on them personally, I can see them as a blessing nonetheless.
When you’re caught up in a crap-storm, you can change direction by changing your focus. Start with your breathing. Be mindful of your breathing in order to slow it down. This is calming. Think about the fact that you are breathing and that in itself is a blessing. It is a blessing to breathe. The alternative is quite alarming.
Once you’ve got a handle on your breathing and your attitude, start a quick checklist of the positives of the current situation. No matter how bad it is, it could be worse. Have a good close look at the blessings. You’re not dead. You probably won’t be unless you’re injured. If you are, be grateful that there’s a 911 to call. Be thankful that there are men and women who devote their lives to helping others in precarious situations. Be thankful that there are clinics and hospitals with people whose sole concern is restoring you to health. That’s a lot of love. That’s an abundance of caring. That’s a blessing to society at large that there are people who are skilled at providing healing care and willing to do so. Like the oysters, health care isn’t my thing. I’ve got a pretty pronounced gag reflex and I have virtually no tolerance for icky. Some people can sit there and watch surgery and ER shows. Ick, not me. I can be grateful that there are other channels to turn to. I can be grateful that there are other people who are perfectly happy and comfortable watching and doing those things.
Once you’ve got a short list of things to be grateful for in the moment, you’ll start feeling some relief. Being grateful has a positive effect on your mind. When you are focusing on the good, your mind begins looking for more of that. Seeking goodwill trigger the pleasure centers of your brain and stimulate the production of dopamine. This has a compounding effect because the brain will want to continue being pleasurably stimulated. By focusing on good things and happiness, you are training your brain to seek blessings and abundance. When you spend all of your time focusing on a mess, you are training your brain to seek out problems and crap. Why take pleasure in finding crap when you can take pleasure in finding joy?
When your body begins taking pleasure in goodness, it begins to activate more fully your healing capabilities. The human body is a miraculous machine with an astonishing capacity to repair itself. When you are focused on abundance, good and joy, your body will follow suit. You will feel better because when you are happy, you are more inspired to take care of yourself. You make better food choices because you are eating to be fed rather than to try to smother stress.
Taking care of yourself is also a reciprocal process. The more you do it, the more you want to do. When I was in the absolute bottom of the pit of depression, my doctor advised me that a bit of walking in the sunshine was the best alternative to medication.
I dreaded the idea of getting onto an antidepressant because of the known side-effects. I’m absolutely horrible at taking my meds on a regular basis. Sometimes I run out of money to buy the next month’s worth and don’t get around to it for weeks on end. This is life-sustaining medication, mind you. So, knowing the adverse effects of being on antidepressants as well as the collateral effects of going off of them cold turkey, well that was a risk I couldn’t afford.
The sun provides Vitamin D, which increases serotonin levels that positively impact your mood and alertness. I would be exposed to sunlight one way or another. No need to remember to take pills. Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful for the blessings of taking a walk on a nice sunny day. Taking a walk gave me time to breathe, to soak up the sunlight, to pump the blood throughout my body, to clear my mind, to smell the flowers, to see the sights, to say hi to neighbors as I passed by.
Can you get that from a pill?
I think not.
I thank God for the miraculous capacity of the body to mend itself, for the mind to reboot, for the soul to be untarnished. Time heals all wounds, they say. They’re right as long as you spend that time focusing on your many blessings.
I hope you learned a little something from this installment. To seal the deal, we get a reminder from Bing Crosby…