How grateful are you?

I’m sure there’s not any one of us who wouldn’t feel grateful for the big things in life like buying the perfect flat, getting a great promotion, winning the lottery, finding a decent man … odds are about the same! (Kidding). But we often forget to practice gratitude for the little things that happen every day. When you think about it, it’s the little things that will make up the majority of our lives and that’s important, so we really shouldn’t take it for granted.

It’s all about how you see the world and whether you focus on the negative or the positive. For example, we all know people who say

‘It always happens to me’

And you know what? They’re not lying. We call them unlucky. But they don’t think they are – they have have developed a ‘knowing’  that they are and they believe it at their core. Their lives become a catalogue of disasters and everything that can go wrong for them, will go wrong and to the extreme. And I know this is true, because I was one of them.

It tends to start out with a bit of bad luck and it’s right there that it needs to be nipped in the bud straight away – STRAIGHT AWAY. The first thing you should do is find the positive in it and focus on that because the more you focus on what went wrong, the more you expect it to the next time. And it will. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. I’m not talking about the major upsets of life, like losing someone close, losing your job, your house or your spouse. We all go through these and we all need to grieve through them, but not hang onto the belief that it happened because of us in some way.

Once you’re caught up in that way of thinking, you’re surrounded by negativity and, just like anything, if you don’t keep a hold of it it will spin out of control, making it harder and harder to reign in.

It’s not just the thing that goes wrong, it’s the series of events that follow it and how they all go wrong and you look around thinking – holy f*ck, I must be cursed. Its then, when you come to expect it .., you’ll get it like you wished for it.

My Grandad had a saying that I grew up hearing most days – he would say:

‘We’ve got the luck of the 9 blind bastards’.

I believed him. It’s like there is a curse running through our family and if I told you how it’s been from the beginning, you would think I was reading from a Danielle Steel novel. It’s so consistent in its sheer bad luck and tragedy that it just can’t be real … but it is.

Trust me – I’m seriously overqualified when it comes to talking to you about gratitude! Because it was only learning how to practice gratitude that I got here today. And that’s not said for dramatic effect – I don’t do drama, I’ve had enough of that in my life.

No, when I say I’m lucky to be here – I mean in the most physical sense.

I was 15 when I swallowed a bottle of pills

17 when I cut my wrists

26 when I died for a bit on the operating table having an emergency cesarean

39 when a surgeon accidentally cut my aorta … yep the big one

Somehow, I’m protected by a mighty force and I have since learned why. But I’m not going to get all woo woo here, because, it’s not the time or place for it today.

So what changed?

I don’t think it was a conscious decision I made to practice gratitude. I think it was a pure and unadulterated realisation that I was actually lucky to be here and for that I genuinely felt grateful. when I thought about it, my nan died at 52, younger than I am now and my brother was murdered at 29 which is no age at all. I’m sure we all have examples like that – people we have lost way to soon.

The aorta incident for me was life changing. It was then I started to practice and my life has never been the same since developing the gratitude attitude.

You may be someone who has sailed through life without many problems. I sincerely hope you are as that would actually make me very happy. If not, and some of what I’ve said has resonated with you, believe me and trust me, things can and will get better and you can start right now by practising gratitude.

You might be thinking how the hell can practising gratitude change my life. Well, let me tell you – It’s a mindset and energy thing.

A couple of PHD’s at the universities of California and Miami conducted a study with 3 random groups. One group were asked to keep a journal and record 5 things that had happened in the week that they were grateful for. Another group were asked to record five hassles from the week that they were unhappy about. The last group were not told what to focus on but to record 5 events that happened to them in the week.

The study lasted 10 weeks and at the end of it, out of all the groups, group one were shown to be 25% happier about themselves and their lives. They felt healthier, slept better, had fewer health complaints and had managed to get more exercise than normal.

Another study undertaken by Washington Uni with two groups, showed that people who were in the clinically depressed group had showed almost 50% less gratitude than the group made up of non depressed people.

Like everything, it’s so easy to start out with good intentions and after a few days, or maybe a week, these fall by the wayside. So how to prevent that. Well, the way I do it is with my daily journal, which by the way, I write in the mornings not at night because I’m a 5:30am girl most days, when I’m in my routine. I put an asterix at the bottom of the page, actually I put 2 – one is for my daily intention and one is for gratitude. Now I don’t always know what I’m going to be grateful for until I get to that bit, but whatever it turns out to be, I give it the words it deserves – I express it fully as it were.  So I never just say – I’m grateful for the weather today. I say something like – this morning I was watering my herbs in the sunshine and a breeze carried the scent of Basil in the air. It reminded me of the pesto hummus I made and shared with my friend – I’m so grateful for her, she makes me laugh a lot! I think I’ll send her a little note today.

There’s a lot of evidence out there that shows practising gratitude is beneficial to our health,  so you can look it up yourself. But why not spend the time doing something positive instead like … oh I don’t know …  practicing gratitude 😉

For more topics like this one come on over and join my Bellibones, group – it’s free and dedicated to helping you live a healthy & happy life:

Sending you much love,