Birthdays, busyness & gratitude

October is always an extremely busy month for us.  We have three close family members with birthdays which means a lot of celebrations requiring preparations, the actual celebration and sometimes clean-up afterward (depending on what was planned).  It can be really easy to get caught up in the stress of all of it and forget how fortunate we are that these people are in our lives and focus on celebrating how thankful we are for them.

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Why is gratitude so hard?

I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but when I think about the influences in my life, I find that the bulk information coming in such as the news, requests for work & personal commitments, etc. bombarding me throughout most days is rarely uplifting.  At best, I can just hope for something neutral.  Most of it (especially this close to an election) seems exceptionally negative these days.  Because of that, it’s really easy to get pulled into negatively slanted thinking.  This can then lead to a spiral of believing that nothing is good enough, or I’m not good enough, or simply allowing myself to just sit & admire the overwhelming volume of commitments on my plate (rather than making some decisions on what I’m actually going to do and move on).  When I’m focusing on all of that, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m focusing (in the month of October) on how grateful I am that our family members are still with us, are in good health overall, and it certainly becomes a struggle to be present in the moment with them when we should be celebrating their life.

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How do we get better at it?

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to get better at focusing on gratitude is to set aside a minute or two in my day and come up with three things either in my life or that happened during my day that I can be grateful for (credit to The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor).  It sounds crazy (and I thought it was really stupid… but I managed to convince myself to try it), but in less than a couple minutes a day, I found that it truly did re-train my brain to view the world in a more balanced way.  Don’t get me wrong, I still believe I’m a realist at heart.  I certainly don’t look at the world through rose colored classes.  However, I’ve found that acknowledging that there are truly good things happening in my life and taking a minute to be grateful for them can significantly improve my outlook for the day & make me feel more empowered to affect the outcome.  I covered this idea in a previous post, but I still find myself struggling with this concept at times of drastic change (like my recent role change at work) and times of extreme busyness (like months chocked full of birthdays or during the holiday months).  And right now, these times are currently overlapping so I’m definitely struggling.  I’m catching myself focusing on the ways that I believe I’m failing (such as not posting lat week), focusing on things I’m not doing as well as I should, or simply feeling completely overwhelmed.  And type of thinking has an impact on my effectiveness and my mood.

 

I certainly recognize that everyone’s life is busy.  And this is a tough thing to practice.  Take a minute to try it:  despite all of your busyness, commitments and negative influences, what are you grateful for today?

 

 

Wishing you an All+SUM LIFE,
– Sarah

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