Out with the negative script and in with the good. Discovering the 3 things that heighten my gratitude.Tweet
Last Christmas I wrote a piece called I Feel Nothing For Christmas. Sadly, At the time, I was in a lengthy and very painful depressive episode – an episode that robbed me of the one holiday I love. Despite this, I forced a smile and went through the motions, but it was all robotic and insincere.
In contrast, this Christmas, the joy and love for the season made a welcomed return. However, the road from twenty-nineteen to the Christmas of twenty-twenty, hasn’t been an easy one – not for me and certainly not for anyone else either.
While COVID-19 spread across the world, not once but twice, our lives were lit afire; our loved ones suffered, and cases of mental illness grew exponentially. I mean, how can it not? Every day, we hear about its tragic reality.
Yet, despite this, the difference between how I was feeling last year and how I feel today is literally night and day. Normally, I would be analyzing why I am experiencing such a stark contrast, but this year? I refuse to.
Instead, I chose to embrace the triumphant return of my ability to feel. If I have leaned anything from my slow walk down the road to mental wellness, it’s this: sometimes, too much thinking can lead one down the rabbit hole, a dark place that, when things are contemplated on for too long, can put you right where you don’t want to be – in a depressive mindset.
In my case, if I choose to put my energy into trying to discover the difference from one year to the next, I would slip. Essentially, my mind would slowly access the feeling of ole; bring them to the fore, and I would feel as I did last year. Nope, not happening.
Its effects are too damaging and only rob me of my joy. Therefore, I chose to just let it be. Instead, I invested my limited energy into the feelings produced by the now, by the joy I am feeling. Essentially, I got my mojo back. That’s the only thing that matters.
Sure, saying I choose to say in the here and now is easy to say, but what about actually being able to do so? That’s the hard part. Here are the 3 ways I work on staying in the now:
Firstly, it’s helpful to know that humans’ attention will wander. We can not prevent thoughts from floating into our minds. It’s just how the damned thing works. But once we acknowledge this fact, we can start to be more mindful of them and thus push them aside and focus on, in my case, embracing the fact that I feel great this holiday season.
2. Calling to attention.
We want to prioritize all the thoughts we are having that are enhancing our mood, not have intrusive ones that hinder that. For example, this is the first time in years that I woke up on Christmas day at my parents’ house. This made me feel a sense of gratitude. I mean, in the middle of a pandemic I was able to share my first waking moments with the two people whom I love and who have done more for me than anyone. I made sure that I call to attention this memory. Furthermore, as I replay this joyous moment in time, I still feel its beauty. It is but one thing that keeps the good feelings rolling.
3. Continuously running through my gratefulness inventory.
Many years ago, I decided that I would keep a list of all the things I am grateful for. While this may seem difficult at first for those who have never done one, it does get easier with practice. In order to maximize its effectiveness, I include anything and everything good in my life – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. In addition, as good things happen, I am continuously updating the list. More fuel for the positivity fire.
There you have it: the 3 things at heighten my gratitude. Before I go, I want to leave you with a final example of what I’m grateful for. This year I spent Christmas with my kids at my ex’s home. What made it even more wonderful was that my parents also joined us. It was amazing, having the kids entire family, both their mom and their dad’s sides, under the same roof. How can it get any better?
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The result of compiling a list and reviewing it are surprisingly effective to keep the good mood rolling. When I read it back and reflect on the things on it, like moments such as the ones here, it takes me further away from the negative inner script. To be more specific, it keeps depression and the imagery that comes with PTSD out of my head, if only for a while.
Finally, our mission should be to live. Ruminating and living life off a script of negativity will degrade one’s sense of overall well-being, cause one to miss out on the moments that make life great and worst of all, it will keep them stuck. Therefore, to break free from its grasp, taking stock will help us to embrace the beautiful moments life throws our way. For they are our true gifts, a fact I never want to lose sight of.
Life is but a series of moments, make every one of them count.Jonathan Arenburg.
Need help building your gratitude? Check out Good Days Start With Gratitude
Good Days Start With Gratitude is a 52-week guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude! It is a self exploration journal designed to focus on being thankful for what we have
The Road To Mental Wellness – The Book
I am excited to announce that I will be revealing my first book cover in mid January. Called The Road To Mental Wellness, it chronicles my lifelong battles with mental illness. Its goal? To help others by telling my story…. Check back for updates. However, if you would like to see it sooner, simply subscribe to The Road To Mental Wellness email list and I will be more than happy to send you the exclusive first look at it.
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