Gratitude doesn’t come easily to me, if you were to pick a person out of a line up for being the best at moaning, you’d be drawn to me.
It’s not that I enjoyed moaning or complaining – I really didn’t – it’s just that it became part of who I was. It was easier to complain about the negatives than to really dig deep and look for the positives. The more I complained, the easier it was to see things to complain about.
People walking too slow, drivers who didn’t indicate, hotel rooms that weren’t what I was expecting, food that wasn’t how I had imagined, the weather being too hot, too cold, blah blah blah.
I was becoming a walking, talking (and very irritating) serial complainer.
If I had carried on seeing the negative in every.single.situation then I would have ended up becoming a cartoon version of myself. The female Victor Meldrew in her 30’s, and how depressing would that be!?
Thankfully, I was stopped in my tracks and given the massive shake up that I needed in order to snap out of the, quite frankly, miserable and almost ridiculous state I was putting myself in.
I call it my hippy awakening.
I spent time reading books, searching ways to change my mindset and become a nicer person, because, without that change, I was worried where I would end up, and how my life would look.
Gratitude is everywhere. Literally. It is the self-help buzz word and has been for a while. There’s research concluding that gratitude reduces anxiety, depression, emotional exhaustion and boosts happiness and satisfaction with life. Apparently it can also lower blood pressure and improve sleep.
Just by changing the way you think.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve reached an age where I don’t care about how others see me, or if it’s just a point you get to when you’ve been through certain situations, but where I am in my life right now is exactly where I want to be. I am, undeniably, a hippy in skinny jeans. I find myself ticking more and more things off the hippy hit list, without even realising.
Essential oils? check.
The moon & it’s magical powers? check.
I mean, I’m a walking cliché! And I LOVE it. It’s not that it’s become part of me, it’s more that it IS me. And I’ve slowly, and surely found my way there.
The more I read about gratitude, the more I found myself practising it. The more I practiced, the easier it became and before I knew it, I was doing it without even thinking about it. It’s changed how I feel about everything. Everything.
A huge learning curve for me was realising that part of the reason that my, so called expectations, were never met, was because of how I pictured ‘it’ in my head. How can things be good enough, when you’re placing them on a pedestal too high to ever be reached? Nothing was ever that bad. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. And the only way to change that, was to change the way I thought.
You don’t realise how lucky you are until you’re at the point of losing something. That feeling, of utter desperation makes you stop and look at everything you thought you were right to complain about and realise that you should be counting your lucky stars.
I often find myself now, usually when I’m driving, in the bath, or just laying on the bed, thinking about how lucky I am. To have a husband who is my best friend, two kind, clever kids, a family who love me, a house that I want to come home to every single day, friends who I speak to hourly, a job I love, space to write whatever I want, a chance to be creative with my business, the chance to experience opportunities I might not otherwise have, so much to be grateful for! And I wonder what the hell it was I was moaning about for all those years?
The more I think about how many reasons I have to be happy in my life, the more I find. Funny that?
Tell people you love them, and tell them why. Be specific. It will show them that you’ve noticed something about them, and it will remind you of all the reasons that person is important to you. It doesn’t have to be massive, the smaller the reason the more special it becomes. How many people can make you laugh until you’re snorting or laughing like a seal? (Very few people make me laugh like that, but they know who they are!)
Really be aware of each moment you’re in. The music that’s playing when you’re on a road trip, the clear sky when it’s a full moon, the way your kids cuddle you, instinctively and totally unique to them, the chance to have an afternoon nap while everyone else is chilling out in their own way – whatever it is – really notice it.
Make memories & fill your house with things that make you smile. It doesn’t have to match (have I mentioned how I hate matchy matchy?) We have a giant light up sign that says TOYS in our dining room, a pink flamingo in the living room, yellow velvet cushions, old clocks from special friends, empty gin bottles as candlesticks because of the memories we had when we drank it, everything in our house makes us happy.
Take photos, keep a diary, write a journal – build a memory bank of happy moments! There will be times when the Moaning Mildred will come back to play, but, if you’ve got a whole army of physical things to look at to remind you why you’re so bloody lucky, then it will help to kick her right back to where she belongs.
Mine include photos, screenshots, quotes, songs in playlists, drawings from my kids, little notes left by the bloke, magnets, books, pens, matches – anything that makes me go “remember when we…..” and I’m right back to that happy time again.
I write down everything I’m grateful for, even things as small as not having to put the bins out, the bloke reversing my car onto the drive for me so I can shoot straight off in the morning, H sitting with C while he’s in the bath so I can cook dinner, stupid things that you could take for granted if you weren’t careful.
Take nothing for granted. Nothing. Why should I? I’m not entitled to special treatment, I’m no more worthy than the next person, so anything someones does for me to show they care, I’m all over it. And I will say thank you a million times, because I am bloody grateful. And now, a whole lot happier.