If you follow this blog, you will be aware that I have written 3 posts recently about the Coronavirus situation:
In these posts I have tried to focus on positive thinking and practical tips for not only living in isolation, but also dealing with the range of emotions that come with coping with lockdown, separation from family and friends and an uncertain future. It also strikes me that in these times of anxiety, confusion and fear, it is thoughts of gratitude that may help us to reduce our worries, open us to hope for the future and help to calm us when we are constantly bombarded with negative news. In this post, I want to explore the positives behind having a “Gratitude Attitude!”
Feeling grateful encourages uplifted emotions, improved health, it helps us cope with challenges, and it builds stronger relationships. Although it is not a cure for depression or anxiety, gratitude helps us focus on the positives, giving us strength and capacity to face those challenges.
When things are going well, we take our lives for granted and perhaps even begin to believe we are invincible. When things are hard, as they are now, we realise that sometimes we cannot control everything, and we start to worry that the things we routinely take for granted may be lost. When we face the fact that everything we have can be taken away, it becomes much harder to take it for granted.
Taking the time and effort to create a grateful attitude will strengthen our psychological immunity when we are faced with a situation like the one in which we find ourselves. Research shows that grateful people are more resilient to stress, either when facing their everyday worries and fears, or when having to cope with a major crisis. Perhaps under these current difficult circumstances, cultivating an attitude of being grateful can increase our resilience.
One of the reasons why gratitude can change our lives is because it changes our focus. If we focus on good things and being positive, then that is what we move towards. It then becomes easier to see things in a positive light, even when problems arise. If you have friends or family who are routinely positive people, you know how true this is. Even when things aren’t good, they look for a silver-lining in the situation. If they can’t find one, they simply state that something good will eventually come out of whatever is happening. On the flip side, when we insist on spending our lives dwelling on doom and gloom, we experience more of that. If we expect to see problems and negativity in any given situation, then that is what we will see.
It’s not just about being a positive person; having a ‘Gratitude Attitude’ can change your life because it breathes positivity into everything you do. It’s a shift in focus, a different way of seeing things, one that involves an appreciation for the beauty of all things. Instead of someone who lives life in a state of mind feeling depleted and lacking, choose to be someone who lives life in a state of abundance!
I understand how hard the current situation is. I’m not for a moment suggesting that all the sadness and hardship we are facing on a global scale can be glossed over with a positive outlook. But, gratitude CAN help us to keep focused on the things that really matter to us when everything seems out of our control, and we start to feel powerless and low.
At the moment, most of us have more time on our hands than usual. So, what better time to cultivate a ‘Gratitude Attitude? Try the following quick gratitude exercise: Set a timer for 3 minutes and jot down everything you feel thankful for. This will probably be your family, friends, favourite foods, hobbies, your job, your home, your pets, it can be whatever matters to you. Write it all down! Allow yourself to appreciate all that is available to you: From technology to home comforts, to your amazing body, your family and your friends. If you need inspiration, my list includes the following:
My family, including my husband Andy and my four amazing children and stepchildren. My love and appreciation of all animals. My health. My education. My ongoing love of all things historical. My childhood, being brought up in Devon. The luxury of the ocean and the New Forest a short drive from my home. My blog. (I love writing and it is a constant source of amazement that anyone reads anything I write.) My cats.
The wonderful world of films and cinema. Reading and books. (My Kindle is one of those possessions that I would need to take to a desert island.) The opportunity to travel and have holidays. Living in a free country. My beautiful home. And finally, a crisp glass of dry white wine. on a summer evening.. what joy! This is a very short list, make yours as long as you like!
Next read back your list spending at least 20 seconds on each subject of your gratitude. Really think about why it is so important to you and recall any special memories that pop into your head.
Finally, you may wish to consider those gifts in the light of the situation we are in. For example: If planned events are cancelled, we can still connect with family and friends who would have attended. Express gratitude for the modern technology which allows us to Zoom , Skype and HouseParty!
Extend your grateful feelings towards those whose lives are affected most by the Coronavirus situation. Consider donating to organisations whose operations and fundraising efforts are being impacted. Is it possible that you have taken your small local shops, and services for granted in the past? Support them now in their hour of need. For example, send a box of bath or skincare goodies from a small business to a relative stuck at home alone, or order a takeaway from a local restaurant.
Reflect with gratitude on the amazing work of the NHS, and all the key workers including teachers, police, supermarket staff, delivery drivers, the scientists who are working so hard to come up with a vaccine, and the government, (whatever your politics) who are battling on our behalf. Feel grateful for the power of the media which allows us to hear heartwarming and uplifting stories from around the globe as well as keeping us educated and informed.
Remember that gratitude is a choice. This current situation will pass, but you can keep a grateful outlook always. It will keep you steady when good times and bad flow in and out of your life. When disaster strikes, gratitude provides us with a mindset from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overpowered and overwhelmed by temporary circumstances, and, if ever there was a time when we need that additional perspective, it is now.
“Just as a gardener tends to her flowers, care for your gratitude, practice daily, and watch it grow, strengthen and blossom.” – Tamara Levitt
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” – Amy Collette
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie