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Transparency moment: I am a naturally negative person. And I hate it.
In the past 7-8 years I have read countless books, listened to countless podcasts and watched countless videos on self improvement, law of attraction, vibing with the Universe, and the power of positivity. For some reason, I cannot seem to remember to let these lessons permeate my daily life. My instinctual, initial reaction to situations always seems to sway to the pessimistic and negative side.
Have you ever been around those people who are just naturally so happy? They seem to find the blessings in less than ideal situations, and you get more jazzed up just being around them. I want the jazz! I want the pep! I have decided in the month of April, I'm gonna try and find it.
From what I have researched, being naturally more optimistic or pessimistic is determined by many factors- genetics, responses to environmental factors, upbringing, brain chemistry, and natural personality traits to name a few. Apparently all these factors blobbed together to give me my Debbie Downer outlook. Cool. However, I think there's a light at the end of the negativity tunnel, and from what I have deducted from all of the self help books I have read- it's gratitude.
Gratitude is the holy grail of attitude adjustments, apparently. I do know this on a surface level, and I go through spurts of being grateful, then I kinda forget about it. What better use of my time in Co-vid19 quarantine than to really squash it deep into my brain fibers? Here's my plan: for the month of April, I am going to put together a short, daily task that is themed around gratitude. This might be journaling, watching a video, or doing a mindfulness exercise. If you could also use a gratitude adjustment, PLEASE join me! Support and accountability will be super helpful in getting these changes to stick. Just a heads up, this is in no way a scientific experiment. This is a compilation of activities pulled from the many resources I have been in contact with over the years.
1.) Make a list. Start nice and easy and write a list of 5 things you are grateful for. Place it by your bed so you see it before you go to sleep and as you wake up. As you write each item, close your eyes and actually feel the happiness and the reasons why you are so grateful for each item. Example- I am grateful for my hands. Take a minute and think about all the tasks you complete each day with ease because you have hands. Try to imagine showering, driving, tying your shoes, making a sandwich, and zipping up a jacket without hands or having to use a prosthetic hand. Now, make out with your hands because it's so freaking awesome you have working hands.
2.) Complete a short gratitude meditation. Use YouTube or the Insight Timer app to find one that appeals to you, or use this one!
3.) Be grateful for your body. Take the time to make one really healthy meal for yourself. Eat this one meal sitting down without distractions and think about how grateful you are for the ability to purchase healthy food. Thank your body for getting you through each day and keeping you alive. Show your body how grateful you are by feeding it that meal that will keep it feeling and performing at it's best. Take a pic of your healthy meal and tag @busybodywellness with the hashtag #gratitudeadjustment
4.) Complete an "annoying" task with a good attitude. Wow, this one will be awesome practice for me! I am the queen of bitching and moaning when I have to do something I don't want to do. When you tackle that task, set yourself up with a nice environment. Play music, listen to a podcast you love, burn your favorite candle. As you are completing your task, list all the reasons you are grateful that you are able to do it. Example- cleaning the pantry. Instead of dreading the whole ordeal, say "wow, I'm so lucky to have so much food to organize. It's so nice I have the time to get this done. I am grateful to have feet to stand on and hands to do this".
5.) Spread the love. Reach out to 3-5 people in your life and express gratitude for them. Tell them why you are so lucky to have them around. Don't forget your pets, they put up with a lot of crap!
6.) Thank your bank. I know that sometimes, looking at bank accounts or credit card bills can cause a lot of anxiety. Money is a big issue that I have worked on a lot over the years. Money is energy, and getting mad at it or annoyed that you have to spend it on things like bills or groceries just creates bad vibes. Today's exercise is to pay a bill or check your bank balance with gratitude. It might suck to make that gas and electricity payment, but coming at it with an attitude of "wow, I am so lucky I am able to pay this so I can have lights. Thank you money, for allowing me to live in comfort". I also frequently tell myself that my money situation could always be a lot worse, so it's important to be thankful for what you have, even if you would like the number to be bigger.
7.) Play your favorite song. Take a couple minutes to play one of your favorite songs of all time. Sing to it, dance it out, and think about how grateful you are when you hear the song and what it does for your mood. Be grateful for ears that can hear sounds and help us through our day. Screen shot a pic of your favorite song and tag me on Instagram @busybodywellness with the hashtag #gratitudeadjustment
8.) Love your vehicle. I have mentioned this before, but I drive a 15 year old Jetta with rust spots and no hubcaps. Super classy. While I joke about my embarrassing car, I am extremely thankful that it still runs, is safe, and is paid off. No matter if you have a Jag or a junker of a car, tell it thank you that it get's you where you need to go. Same can be said for a bus or a bike, or your own two feet. Express gratitude for your modes of transportation today.
9.) Make time to sweat. Our bodies are meant to move and they love us when we do. Love your body back by setting aside time for some movement. Take at least 15 minutes and get in a quick run, yoga session, dance workout, or at home cardio session. During your workout, focus on how lucky you are that your body can move.
10.) Hug your home. It's easy to forget our surroundings when they become really familiar. Appreciate some of your favorite features of where you live. Big windows? New kitchen? Even the fact that it has 4 walls and a roof. Yay for having a place to live!
11.) Time to meditate again. Browse YouTube or the Insight Timer app for a gratitude meditation that speaks to you, or take 10 minutes and do this one!
12.) Laugh it out. What is better than a good laugh? Be thankful for comedy today. Watch your favorite funny show, movie, internet clip, or dig through old pics to find dorky photos of your siblings. What would we do without humor?
13.) Gratitude shower. Do we take enough time to appreciate hot showers? I don't think so. Today's challenge is to have a mindful shower experience. Show love to each part of your shower routine, from the hot water that magically comes from the faucet to the really good smelling soap you love to use.
14.) Focus on food. In the midst of the global pandemic, we are reminded to be grateful for the items that the grocery store does have. Take a few minutes and contemplate our easy access to food. We have a million options right at our fingertips. From Nacho Fries at Taco Bell to mangoes from South America. Thank you farmers and grocers!
15.) Thank your technology. My laptop is the size of 3 envelopes. We have mini computers in our hands 24/7. We can talk to our TV's and tell it what shows to play. Pick your favorite technological advancement and thank it for making your life so easy. Never forget that people used to have to STAND UP TO CHANGE THEIR TELEVISION CHANNELS! Never forget!!!
16.) Appreciate your talents. We are all good at things, but a lot of times the negative self talk makes us forget that we have awesome skills and natural proficiencies. Even if you think of yourself as a talentless, loser blob, I challenge you to write down 5 things that you are good at- even if it's as small as always finding your pet's favorite spot to be petted or making the most bomb PB&J sandwiches. Write down your list, take a pic and tag me on Instagram @busybodywellness with the hashtag #gratitudeadjustment. Don't think of it as being braggy, it is important to recognize your self worth and celebrate it!
17.) Dress to impress. For many of us, it has been weeks of being stuck at home and wearing outfits that should be counted as crimes against humanity. Check out your closet and all of the things you are lucky enough to get to wear. Pick your favorite outfit that makes you feel good, and reflect for a couple of minutes about why you are grateful for this outfit and what a big difference clothing can make. Channel your inner America's Next Top Model and snap a pic.
18.) Stop and smell the roses. Or a bottle of your favorite perfume. Or your baby's head. Or the inside of your new car. Or anything else that you love the smell of. Maybe you bake a batch of banana muffins because it makes your kitchen smell so good. Note- this is not license to huff glue or get high off of gasoline fumes. Take a minute to really appreciate a good smell and note the joy it brings.
19.) Enjoy your employment status. It's a freaking weird time in the world- a chunk of us are unemployed still, a chunk of us have been slapping together WFH routines, and a chunk of us have been working harder than ever. No matter where you are on the employment spectrum, take a minute to give thanks. Even if you are out of a job and having a panic attack about paying bills. Is there ONE thing that's nice about your current situation? Whether it's lack of things to do or you are on the front lines of this thing, is there a way to find a silver lining?
20.) Breathe it all in. We are going to do another meditation, this one really focusing on the breath- ya know, that little thing that keeps you alive? As you breathe, embrace your lungs for everything they automatically do for you. Set a timer for 10 minutes and pay attention to your breathing or check out this meditation on diaphragmatic breathing.
21.) Praise modern plumbing. This one might seem weird, but if you have ever even to another country and dealt with a less than ideal toilet situation, you will know what I am talking about. I have been in a couple countries that had me saying "I will NEVER take for granted American plumbing EVER again". Even if you haven't been to another country and pooped in a hole, when you are on the toilet today, be in awe of how good we have it. Cleanliness, sanitation, a machine that sucks your poo away from you in an instant, and hot water that comes out of the sink on a moment's notice. So today, after you poo, say THANK YOU!
22.) LOVE THE EARTH. It's Earth Day! If you think about it, we all should be environmentalists, as we could not live our cushy, modern life without using Earth's resources. Oh, also, that pesky little thing called breathing oxygen. Today, thank the Earth in some way. Go outside and really notice the beauty of nature- trees, flowers, green grass, blue sky, birds and animals. Pick up some litter, plant something, make a donation to a non-profit dedicated to helping our environment. Educate yourself on climate change, the plastic pollution problem, or the over fishing of our oceans. There are literally millions of ways we can help the Earth, and it can start with something extremely simple at home like vowing to stop purchasing bottled water. Ask yourself- do you want to be part of the problem or part of the solution?
23.) Be happy for your health. Especially amidst the global pandemic, appreciate your healthy body. We forget how amazing it is to feel healthy until the second a cold comes on and we can't breathe out of our left nostril. You might be experiencing health issues right now, and even if you are struggling, are there parts of your body that are still healthy and working for you? Health is everything, try not to forget it!
24.) Take a fresh look at your appliances. Can you imagine walking to the Ohio River and scrubbing your clothes on a giant rock with radioactive river water? Have some wonder about your washing machine. What a dream! If you are grudgingly doing laundry today, take a fresh perspective. If you aren't doing laundry today, perhaps walk by and give your washer and dryer a pat. The same with your oven, microwave, refrigerator, and heater and air conditioner. Thank goodness for these machines that make our lives so much easier.
25.) Time to meditate again! Hopefully at this point we are doing a better job of seeing the bright side of our lives. I hope we are all feeling the effects of our gratitude adjustment challenge! I picked this 10 minute Higher Self Meditation as a reminder to stay connected to the best version of ourselves. If you aren't feeling the guided meditation thing, just set a timer for 10 minutes and play some relaxing music. Reflect on the last 25 days and all you have to be grateful for..
26.) Appreciate the sucky times. Unless you are a perfect alien life form, most of us have gone through some pretty shitty experiences in life. These situations could have been of our own making or circumstances that were out of our control. Choose an event that holds a negative connotation for you. Examine it and see if in hindsight you can find a positive that resulted from the situation. What do you have to be grateful for due to that experience? Maybe you learned something important about yourself or it brought up an opportunity that you wouldn't have imagined. Try to find gratitude among the other emotions.
27.) Write down this quote and put it somewhere you will see it daily-
- “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha
(note: I'm not sure of the accuracy of this quote, the Internet just told me Buddha said it. Even if he didn't, it's a great reminder!)
28.) Bedtime love. I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves my bed. Tonight, before you go to sleep, send out lots of gratitude for a soft, warm bed to sleep in every night. How many people don't have a bed or a restful place to sleep. I can't even imagine!
29.) Treat yourself. The first thing that comes to mind for me when I hear treats is a delicious baked good, but that doesn't have to mean the same for you. Pick a small treat for yourself today and enjoy every second of it. Give thanks for the small pleasures in life, whether it's a warm, gooey brownie, a shoulder rub from your boo, or 15 minutes of sitting in the sun and reading a book. (Or sitting inside in the rain and reading a book. Who knows with Ohio weather).
30.) 5 minute journal entry. Woohoo! We did a whole month of gratitude adjusting! I hope this month has reminded me to continuously look at the bright side, especially in more challenging times. I hope it has changed your perspective a little, too! Take the time to jot down a few sentences about how you would like to move forward with your gratitude practice. Maybe you repeat this challenge a few months from now, or start a daily gratitude list. Or maybe you write for 5 minutes everything you are grateful for right now.
Thank you for participating in the Gratitude Adjustment Challenge with me! Any insights or revelations? Share them with me in the comments below!