The Power of Joy
Do you ever get sick of emptying the dishwasher? I mean how many times have we done that? Must be tens of thousands of times. You put the dishes in, take them back out, put them back in again. Such an endless loop of sameness. I remember some years back I fractured a vertebra in my back and had a hard body cast on that prevented me from bending over. To help me function a bit, since I had two kids, a husband, and a household to run, I got this device that was a long stick with a pincher on the end. Eventually, in my quest to be useful, I began to empty the dishwasher very carefully with this pincher device. Would literally take about 30 minutes to complete the task. Every single fork and spoon slowly moving, sometimes falling to the ground. Sigh.
As I lifted a dish this morning and put it in the cabinet, I heard the lament in my head; the belly-aching about this necessary chore that just gets under my skin. At least I don’t have to do it with a stick and a pincher anymore, but I still don’t want to do it! But, isn’t a lot of life like this? There are things we have to do, that we don’t want to do, that are are just annoying, or heartbreaking, or frustrating. Of course, I’m talking about the dishwasher here, but you pick your poison. We all have these moments, especially when life grabs us by the throat and says, “You are so not getting your way.” It’s these times, I think, that we have an opportunity. We have an opportunity to rise up, to feel better, to feel stronger, and more fulfilled. We need to work on, and develop, a way to push through all that threatens to consume us with negativity. It’s so easy to fall into a quicksand of frustration, and boredom and, “I can’t f*%#ing take this anymore.” We start to go down and soon we are completely buried. And when we are buried, it’s dark and filled with anger and loneliness.
This is the chance for us to say, “I want more. I want better. I want to feel joy, not turmoil.” This is a chance for us to expand our thinking with curiosity and positivity. Here is the realization that what we focus on is what we get more of.
Yes, I can focus on the nuances of annoyance, OR I can almost welcome it. Okay, here you are again. What are you telling me? What do I need to change to kick you the heck out? For me, maybe my husband needs to empty the dishwasher! Kidding. He does sometimes, and it’s like Christmas morning. But, understanding that our struggles are constant companions, only works to prop us up when we need it. Understanding and accepting that things won’t go our way, gives us the energy and the insights to make the changes we need to avoid sinking into the wrong direction. Simple things. Who knew emptying the dishwasher could get so complicated?
All I know is I don’t want to waste any time. I had a big birthday in August that I pretty much ignored because my father had just passed away. Those two events are reminding me that I have less time in front of me than I had behind me. Precious time. I refuse to waste it complaining about the dishwasher of anything else for that matter. I refuse to settle for treading water. I refuse to allow myself to marinate in what’s wrong. Not easy. But worth it. Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.
The Power of Why
The gift that keeps on giving
We’ve talked a lot about our innate negativity bias over the years, and how our brains are hard wired to look for what’s wrong in life for our own human survival. And we could use that as an excuse to sit back and complain because “that’s the way we are designed!” Or, we could use the knowledge that with intention and practice, we can override our negativity bias and retrain our brains to look for what’s going right in our lives!
Consider this ~ we tend to bookend our days with negativity. We wake up in the morning thinking we didn’t get enough sleep and go to bed at night thinking that we didn’t get enough done! What if instead we bookended our days with positivity! What if we woke up setting an intention to be present and mindful throughout the day, and then went to sleep at night counting our blessings and thinking of three things we are grateful for in our lives? Doesn’t that sound better?
Our lives are full of reasons to feel thankful. Sometimes we need to remember to notice them.
Research shows a plethora of benefits associated with positivity and gratitude. Some of those benefits include:
- Reduced stress
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Improved mood, energy and sleep
- Strengthened self-esteem and relationships
- Enhanced coping skills during hardships
- Lower levels of distress and pain
- Greater resistance to illnesses
- Improves overall psychological and physical well-being
- Increases life span
If there was a pill that could do all of this, everyone would want to take it! Yet most pills come with negative side effects; while positivity and gratitude only come with positive side effects!
So how do we practice positivity and gratitude? Here are some simple suggestions:
- Look for what's going right.
- Notice and acknowledge acts of kindness.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Write a gratitude letter.
- Practice reframing (ask yourself "how can I see this differently?")
- Look for the silver lining or the lessons learned.
Let’s give ourselves the gift of positivity and gratitude this holiday season. It’s the gift that will keep on giving!