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Life Tools | Gratitude

Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing“.

Dr Seuss

We are all a little guilty of getting caught up in negativity. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten annoyed with someone cutting me off in traffic, my husband not listening, someone saying they would do something and not doing it…the list is endless. Fine, we get annoyed, frustrated, s*** happens, but have you ever found yourself spending an inordinate amount of time allowing these negative thoughts to high-jack your mind?

Particularly in times of stress, the busy kind or the serious kind. I bet if you took note of what you were actually thinking on a daily basis you would find that a lot of it wasn’t good. It is very easy to spend 10 minutes having a “pretend” argument in your mind with the person who p***** you off! We all do it, but what purpose does it serve only to prolong the bad experience. And if we allow our mind to continually go to this negative dialogue as a default, it can have an eroding effect on our positive mindset. Which will in turn affect our reaction when something a little more serious than someone cutting you off in traffic happens.

There is a cynic in all of us. And quite frankly, I have often become annoyed at those who are always “glass half full” types. At times I have wanted to shake them and say “it is not ok”! However, as with everything you have to find a balance. And sometimes, particularly when bad things happen or in times of heavy stress, you have to make a conscious effort (and yes it can seem like a massive effort!) to pull your head out of that dark cloud and think of the good things. Because there are ALWAYS good things. And low and behold, if you start training your mind to embrace positivity as your default internal dialogue this can have a profound effect on recovering from tumultuous times.

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.

Ralph H. Blum

Incorporating gratitude into your daily life can be one of the most powerful tools in your Life Tools arsenal. It is by design this is the first Tool introduced in this series. On the surface, practicing gratitude, “counting your blessings” or simply saying thank you to no one but yourself for the good things in your life can seem a bit airy fairy, even a bit pointless. You might already be thinking to yourself “I know I have good things in my life but…{insert bad thing here} has happened and I’m {insert negative emotion here}”. And believe me, I hear you!! But try this for a month and I guarantee you will be amazed by the results.

Putting Gratitude into Practice

Someone I love bought me a Gratitude diary.  It is pretty and pink and it is full of inspiring quotes. It looks great on my beside locker and it makes me smile when I look at it. This is important, because it made me want to use it! You are developing a new habit, so do take a moment to think about what type of person you are and what is going to inspire you to make practicing Gratitude something you do daily. Any of the following will work, pick whichever resonates with you the strongest.

  1. Buying a Gratitude Diary. This is mine and I love it!
  2. Buying a Notepad, pretty or not. TK Maxx has a great selection of stationary. If aesthetics is important to you, I would take some time to pick out something that suits your personality.
  3. If writing is not your thing and typing is more appealing, try using this Gratitude Worksheet I have prepared. Amend to suit your taste!
  4. Meditate. More power to you if can meditate! If you meditate regularly, it really is a beautiful thing to do a Gratitude meditation. There are countless examples on a Google search.

The Magic, by the author of The Secret, Rhonda Byrne is brilliant introduction to the power of gratitude and has an excellent 28 day program to implement gratitude into your life. I am currently on day 12 and it has given me some really amazing exercises that have been an absolute joy to implement into my life and also some fun but powerful tools to use with my 6 year old son. He particularly loves the “Gratitude Stone”. We made a big deal of finding a perfect stone out on the beach and every night before bed we take out the stone and he thinks of something he is grateful for over the course of the day. This gives me such a feeling of “good parenting”, that this little moment spent with my son now features heavily in my own list gratitude list at the end of my day!


28 Day Gratitude Program

If you don’t have time to follow a program or read a book, you can simply write down 3-10 things every morning or evening, starting with “I am so happy and grateful that…” or “I am so blessed that…” and watch how the “bad” things start to fade into the background and the good things start to take centre stage. Your mood will improve, you will deal with stress in a much more calm and measured way and it will be a pleasure to jump out of bed in the morning and greet the day.

Gratitude has helped me negotiate the hardest period of my life. I have come out the other side with a genuine sense that I have been given a gift. A sense that I have been given back control of my life, whatever happens. And while none of us want stress or negativity in our lives, the reality is we have very little control over what happens to us externally, but we do have the ability to control how we respond. The greatest gift you can give to yourself is start arming yourself with Life Tools to help you negotiate these times of stress and unrest. You will feel safe in the knowledge that you are resilient, you have the power to weather the emotional storm and that there are always things in your life worth being grateful for!

Next up in the Life Tools | SeriesSelf – Compassion

xx Alex



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Alexandra Carey is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 200 Yoga Teacher, Nutritionist, Health Coach and owner of Carey Yoga + Nutrition and Aislinn Yoga Lodge. For more information on becoming a client. attending a yoga class, or collaborating as a health professional contact or call 0876861844.

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