I am grateful. No. Matter. What.
Ahh… gratitude: that joy-filled emotion of thankfulness! We should always be thankful and happy but especially during the holidays. But…
Gratitude is so easy when our lives are in order. We work eight hour days (no weekends); we manage our inbox; we feel loved and appreciated by the people we share our home and work lives with. BUT, how often does that really happen? Sometimes it can be through our deepest pain and challenges that we discover the beauty of gratitude.
My dear friend Mark is going through a cancer journey with no boundaries. You don’t expect to be hospitalized for a month and having your gall bladder removed during your chemo treatment. He is a determined fierce warrior and his battle takes my breath away. Another friend within a one week period experienced the death of her mom and the birth of her granddaughter. She said it was “hard.” I cannot imagine her “hard week”.
Our mom turned 88 on November 11th and wanted to celebrate her birthday with her mom and dad and brother Jack which means she wanted to celebrate in heaven not here on earth. I get it. Our daddy is tired of living too. Tired of every bone in his body hurting him, being unable to walk unassisted and bored with the only two activities he can do lately; watch TV and look out the window into his small backyard.
He used to say if he could not drive and play cards, he wanted to go to Mount Olivet– the cemetery where mom and dad will be buried.
In quiet moments during the day and at night I find myself whispering to myself, “I am so blessed!” I am blessed that I have 3 nurturing “can do” sisters and a ”ready to help” brother Michael. I am blessed that I have such deep feelings and love for my family members. When I felt myself going down the slippery slope of negativity and thoughts of how can I help my parents I found myself asking, “Chere, what is good, what is right, what is beautiful?”
I realized I was focusing and practicing positivity. Barbara Frederickson, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and author of the book “Positivity” (Crown, 2009), has demonstrated that the secret to being happy is to focus daily on the good stuff which cultivates your positivity. Positivity is experienced by positive emotions like joy, gratitude, interest, hope, awe, inspiration and love. It is those times when you feel truly loved and connected to others, when you feel playful; when you feel blessed; when your spirit is moved by just being alive and you are fully in the moment, or when you are engaged in an activity you absolutely love.
Positivity does not mean you need to force a smile or try to be happy or never experience negative emotions. Positivity means you have more positive emotions than negative ones. She has discovered the happiness tipping point of 3:1; we need to have 3 or more positive experiences for every equivalent negative one. Barbara’s research shows that 80% of Americans fall short of this ideal 3:1 positivity ratio.
I have realized when I was writing this blog post that I surround myself with the word gratitude in my home. The gratitude sign in my bathroom sets my tone for the day and the Grateful Pillow on my bed reminds me I am blessed. No. Matter. What.
Three Step Triple A Approach to Positivity
Take the positivity self test to determine your positivity ratio. It is recommended you take this every evening for two weeks.
Keep a mental or written list of your negativity during the day. Who gets under your skin? What situations trigger frustration every time? Make note of the circumstances and people that bring out your negativity. Also note where does your positivity come from? What triggers that smile on your heart?
When something negative happens, think of three positives. What actions can you do to get more of the positives and less of the negatives?
If you seed your life with frequent moments of positive emotions you will positively increase your resilience against your challenges and who knows may even perceive them as possibilities.
Being thankful and cultivating an attitude of gratitude puts life in perspective. Just like our parents told us when we were growing up things are never as bad as they may seem.
Call to Action:
Discover the power of 3:1, which Barbara says leads to more resilience to adversity and effortlessly achieve what you once only imagined.
Mom repeated over and over she was happy she celebrated her birthday with her kids after all. Sometimes the fear of even good things can be scary! But there is always a nugget of gratefulness we can cling to and find hope in. No. Matter. What.
Happiness is waiting for you in EVERY moment. But you have to want to choose it. Decide today. Remember as soon as you decide, your life gets more delicious. You only have one life to live, just imagine if it was one you loved.
With positive gratitude,