If you are anything like me, you are constantly on the go – booking your schedule chock full with work, fitness, social commitments, hobbies and the occasional rest day (okay, so maybe I hardly give myself any of those…) often constantly focusing on what’s next and completely forgetting about the moment.
A few weeks ago many people celebrated Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving, that is). Besides the obvious tradition of gathering friends and family to indulge in a huge feast, many people take the time to reflect on what they are thankful for in their lives. From their health, their family and friends – maybe they are thankful for their job – or thankful for the roof over their head or the shoes on their feet – what ever it is, big or small, reflecting on these components of your life create positive thoughts which lead to gratitude.
I believe there is power in the simple practice of gratitude. When you are grateful for what you have in your life, you forget about dwelling on what you don’t.
“A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.That’s 2.5x the impact of winning more than $1,000,000 in the lottery!” – HappierHuman.com
Check out Oprah’s simple explanation of the practice of gratitude:
When I find myself distracted I try to bring myself back to the present; listen to the people around me and actually experience the moment instead of always thinking about what’s next. I have a really bad habit of doing this. I also forget to give myself credit for my achievements and constantly think about where I should be next and forget to focus on what I have at this very moment.
In those times I catch myself and consciously reflect on what I’m grateful for. Here are a few of the most important:
1. My body and its strength.
It might not be perfect, but it’s taken me to every place I’ve been, given me the ability to choose what I want to do and gotten me exactly where I am today. I realized long ago that just like every other element in life – my body will always be a work in progress. It will never be perfect (in my eyes anyway), it could always use improvement and it will break down from time to time – and I’m learning to accept that. On top of that, my body is strong and I love it.
2. My job.
I’m very fortunate. Not only do I have a full-time, secure, well-paying job – but I have great co-workers, management who value me and the skills I bring to the company and actually enjoy my work. I know I’m lucky but I also decided not to settle. I sought out the right workplace for me – something more people need to do to ensure they are working for a purpose. If you love your job, every other area in your life will be happier.
“If you don’t like your job – quit.”
3. My best friends.
When I can count more than single digits the number of people I call my best friends – I know I’m fortunate. You know what I’m talking about – those people who even if you haven’t spoken or seen each other in months – scratch that – years, when you hang out it’s like you just saw each other yesterday. Those friends who you can be 100% yourself around, never hiding behind an act because you know they will accept you just as you are. I’m grateful for those wonderful people who have passion, drive and something about them that makes other people want to be around them. I believe you are who you surround yourself with – so I choose my friends based on not who I am – but the kind of person I hope to be.
4. My independence.
Freedom. I have it, my friends have it, most women in North America have the feeling of freedom… but it hasn’t always been this way. Many people around the world do not have the right of freedom that we have in North America. The fact that I am a female, born and raised in Canada during this time in history – I know I am very, very fortunate. I have the right and the freedom to choose who I want to be, what kind of life I want to live and my own choices day-to-day. There are women just like me in counties on the other side of the world who cannot go outside without being stopped, cannot choose the education or job they desire or choose who they marry. I’m grateful for this everyday.
5. My education.
How did I luck out by being raised in a family who knew the invaluable gift of education, life experience and knowledge? I didn’t come from a wealthy family but I did come from a loving, supportive and encouraging one. My Dad always told me growing up that it didn’t matter if I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – because I could do whatever I wanted. If I wanted to be a doctor – I could. If I wanted to be a teacher – I could. If I wanted to be a marine biologist and live on a boat down in the Caribbean for eight months out of the year – I could. No matter what I wanted to be or learn, I was given the empowerment and belief that I could achieve it with hard work, perseverance and dedication.
When someone reflects on the positive aspects of their life versus the negative, something in the brain mixed with chemical reactions from the hormones actually make you healthier and mentally content.
Don’t take my world for it – I’m not the only one who believes that happiness lies in the power of positive thought. Watch this: