In a dream, I was given a tool to access a memory. It was not until I had opened it, that I realized the memory belonged to someone else. When I woke up, I understood just how precious our free will is and what would happen if it was taken away. I was grateful that I lived a life with a freedom to choose.
~ Maria Lehtman
Holiday Season is typically an excellent opportunity to reflect on the past year. During Christmas time I used to write a photography letter about our family’s annual events. Every year I was amazed by the richness of memories we had created.
Do you feel pressure when someone talks negatively about their life? A moment of exchanging news, no matter how sad, is part of knowing and understanding how someone feels. An exchange of information and feelings is needed if someone is offloading a significant load of burdens. However, a cynical take on life is something none of us are prepared for. Do you realize the difference? Do you know how to transform negativity into empowerment in your life? Can you discuss an issue without overwhelming another person?
The secret of sustaining energy
We all feel at times we are entitled to be angry, sad, disappointed, betrayed, hurt, and we are correct in thinking so. Without a release of emotions, we cannot release a backlog of negativity and open up room for something new to enter.
Although I know a thing or two about challenges in life, there are people worse off than me. I have utmost respect for how they manage their problems. In my last blog this year I wanted to take you on a journey of gratefulness. I owe a ‘thanks’ to all of you who have lifted my spirit throughout the year reading my posts. It makes me feel that daring to go outside my comfort zone has helped someone else on their path. We all feel at times we are entitled to be angry, sad, disappointed, betrayed, hurt, and we are correct in thinking so. Without a release of emotions, we cannot release a backlog of negativity and open up room for something new to enter. Typically the opposite, or at least, acceptance of an unfavorable situation. There is no power in weightlifting without counterweights. We cannot learn to appreciate love without ever getting hurt feeling love. The trick is to feel the emotions without getting emotionally overloaded and bringing others around down with you. They are your resource for helping you out. It makes no sense to take down their energy levels with you.
When I speak about energy levels, I mean that we are organic beings – without energy, we do not move, breathe, eat, and sustain life. Our energy level reflects how we feel, and that defines how we react to life events and others. A simple, genuinely given hug can heal multiple wounds in a moment. A moment of anger can damage a relationship for good. D. Lissa Ranking makes some interesting points about negativity in the post ‘Scientific Proof That Negative Beliefs Harm Your Health.’
Before going into the practice of gratitude – I wanted to underline small ground rules of energy. Sustaining energy means that you keep the necessary life support within you, and with others. Some of the simplest ways that do require self-discipline are the following.
- Eat healthily – small portions frequently. Elegant and simple – and how many of us slip from that? I have to maintain one of the strictest diets next to completely allergic people, and even I have fallen into the trap now and then eating white sugar or milk protein. The result was that I gained bacteria that shook my immune system for a more extended period than it took to take in the damage.
- Drink enough water and ensure that you get enough minerals and vitamins e.g., from fruits, mineral water, nuts, etc. Preferably from natural sources or high-quality nutrients. Healthline’s ‘6 Essential Nutrients and Why Your Body Needs Them’ offers a simple, basic guideline, as an example.
- Have a proper rest (mission impossible for families with small children, understandably). What about the overwhelming debate about coffee? I always favor individualism and intuitivism over everything. I did not completely give up on caffeine because it keeps my mind in a more positive state over the long, dark winter period we have in the Nordics (October-March) and fights off a migraine. (And no, it is not the typical caffeine-dependent-type headache, but an actual migraine that is something else). I have partially compensated caffeine with, e.g., guarana and oranges. Others find tee and vitamins to be sufficient. I do consider that anything that prevents you from sleeping properly is the critical limit. Always ensure what you digest allows you to get enough rest.
- Even if you can only manage a small walk a day, it gives you the time and distance you need to look at the world differently. Nothing is a better healer than a moment in nature.
Why do I underline the above list in my post? Ninety percent of the time when I see people blowing off steam in front of someone they a.) Have not eaten properly b.) Are dehydrated c.) Have not slept or rested enough. Being self-aware of your energy limits is crucial.
The Secret of Gratefulness
Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished. Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms, and those who practice it will experience significant improvements in several areas of life including relationships, academics, energy level and even dealing with tragedy and crisis.
~ Dr. Robert Emmons
Now to the list of how to be more grateful. The reason I wanted to share about gratitude on my last post is that I have seen it impact more lives than any pursuit of happiness. The challenge with happiness is that we adapt to what we have. We can be completely pleased about something one day, and get accustomed to it the next. Happiness has a saturation level, and we are not even aware of when we have reached it. Happiness is not sustainable, but gratitude is.
During the past six years, I have a battled an accelerated condition of multiple chronic illnesses that have been diagnosed with a list of symptoms rather than meaningful causes. The reason for us surviving against all the odds are both external and internal. We are the driving force. No one can live our lives for us. There are no winners in our life’s battle, only survivors. The ones who survive with long-lasting friendships are the grateful ones.
Instead of trying to jump to the happy-go-successful wagon, try to take a 30-day gratefulness run.
- Associate your gratitude with an object. Preferably something you can hold in your left hand, e.g., a stone, a crystal, jewelry (ring), or another object that makes you feel good energy
- Before you go to sleep think about five areas you are grateful for in your life or good events that happened during the day. If you have the energy, write them down on a pad or a notebook. Repeat them and add five more each night. If you do not have the energy, think of five points each night, even if they were the same as before.
- When you wake up consider three areas you are grateful and how they affect your upcoming day positively.
- When you see the first person that day, express your gratitude to him/her. It can be a small compliment, e.g., to your partner: “I love the way you always fix up the breakfast for our children in the morning.” I am happy how you notice me as soon as I wake up.” It can be anything, a small difference in how your daughter’s hair looks like, how lovely your son’s socks are (even if a delightfully mixed pair.) At this point, gratitude is about acknowledgment.
- When you see another person during the day, think of another compliment and what you are grateful for about that person. Even if you do not find it in your heart to express your gratitude, think about it.
- When you come by the first obstacle of the day consider what it means, and think about what you are grateful for in that situation. Even if you are in a negative situation, you could still find a positive point to consider.
As an example, driving has always been my passion. I feel independent when I drive. I hate people who endanger others with reckless driving because the incidents they cause, make people often suffer for years from whiplashes and other trauma. When I am in a near collision course with someone and avoid it, I thank my health and my reactions – that I am strong enough to drive, and my body still reacts correctly in critical situations. My attitude changed. I no longer worry so much if I am late from an appointment, it is much better than being sorry.
Gratitude changes the way you feel about people and life events. Your feelings are an algorithm that changes your chemistry, how your body reacts and feels. Catherine Robertson shares many good points in her post ‘How Gratitude Can Change Your Life’ about the power of gratefulness.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my posts with you all. I am thankful for all the positive feedback you have given me during the year, and that you for taking the time to read my articles. I Wish You All a Meaningful and Wonderful New Year!
The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!
~ Henry Ward Beecher
- Mindbodygreen ǀ https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9690/scientific-proof-that-negative-beliefs-harm-your-health.html
- Healthline ǀ https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/six-essential-nutrients
- Technology networks ǀ https://www.technologynetworks.com/tn/lists/6-pros-and-3-cons-of-coffee-according-to-research-276902
- Rick Hanson, Ph.D. ǀ https://www.rickhanson.net/how-gratitude-can-change-your-life/