How to Chuck the Negative Thoughts and Open the Door to a Flood of Gratitude
Everyone has bad days. I, of all people, know that negative thoughts are so easy to dwell on, so easy to spiral down into. They can be triggered by many different things; your day may not have gone as planned, seemingly impossible obstacles kept popping up at work, or you’re skin decided to break out the night before a special date… the list goes on.
But it’s at those times (when the negatives are compelling you to wallow) that provide the best opportunity to stop those thoughts in their tracks and tell them to f*** off. Shift your focus to the things that have gone right, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Did you find five dollars in an old wallet? Did you receive a new Insta follower? Did your beau send you a sweet message? Was your breakfast yummy? ‘Thank-you’ is a powerful conduit, and one that should be used to conjure feelings of gratitude to fend off the negative spiral.
No matter what it is, feeling thankful and expressing even the tiniest amount of gratitude to start off with has been scientifically proven to have a profound impact on your emotional AND physical wellbeing. From opening the door to new relationships, enhancing your empathy to improving your self-esteem and helping you to sleep better, a tidal wave of gratitude flushes out the negative thoughts and revitalises your overall wellbeing.
But how can you open the door when you’re feeling down in the dumps?
Buddhist monks begin their day with a chant of gratitude for the blessings of their life. They give thanks to the earth, the sky, the entirety of nature and their way of life. Take ten minutes out of your day to focus on the things that have gone right and give thanks for what you’re most grateful for.
• Make a conscious effort to appreciate yourself
Too often we are faced with criticisms, problems, difficulties, and setbacks that can cause us to under appreciate ourselves. That’s why it’s necessary to make a conscious effort to give thanks for everything you have achieved and the qualities you love about yourself. You can do this by writing positive affirmations, and by making a list of five things you love about yourself when the negative thoughts begin to spiral.
• Appreciate three people every day
According to the law of attraction, what you give or put out into the world, you get in return. It costs nothing to show small acts of kindness every day – appreciate the ones around you, offer compliments, tell them about the qualities they have that shine, and expect nothing in return.
• Start a gratitude journal
Spend fifteen minutes before you sleep every night reflecting on five to ten positive events that happened to you during the day or week. Maintaining a journal can be difficult at first, but once you get into the habit of recording your positive thoughts and experiences, you’ll start to notice it will come naturally. Set an alarm or put it on your calendar – whatever works for you.
• Replace negative viewpoints with positive ones
If you feel yourself dwelling on a negative event or thought, flip your focus. For example, if you think of your workplace as a dark, cold place – replace those thoughts with your workplace as being full of warm, vibrant people. Another one could be; if a friend cancels their plans with you, replace the negative 'whys' with the fact that now you have some time to read a book, do some exercise or plan your next holiday.
• Replace complaints and gossip with gratitude and positive discussion
If you feel the urge to vocalise your negative thoughts in the form of complaints, criticisms or gossip, rally your willpower and hold out. All the energy you waste on speaking negatively could be used to go towards building your self-esteem, giving thanks for the small things or discussing your opinions about the current fourth wave of feminism going on right now. I mean, what a time to be alive right?!
You don’t need to dive headfirst and overwhelm yourself so much so that expressing gratitude feels like a chore. Start small. Appreciate the kisses from your kitten or puppy in the morning. Give your mum an extra hug the next time you see her. Luxuriate in the feel of your freshly moisturised legs.
What you DO need to do, though, is challenge yourself. On a day where all you want to do is dwell on the negatives, make a conscious effort to chuck those thoughts out the door and invite in a flood of gratitude. You’ll be surprised with the results.