I’ve heard it said before you can’t just take a thought out of your head.
It will forever stay in your subconscious. You can’t just force it out and replace it with nothing.
However, you can over-power it and replace it with different thoughts. When I was attempting to fix my depressed mind, this really got me thinking about what “depression” meant to me. If I could figure out what thoughts were feeding the sadness, I could replace them with the opposite thoughts.
Depression meant focusing on the things that I didn’t like about my life. It meant being overwhelmed by the negatives. It meant distress and anxiety, sadness and despair. The rumination of negativity; how my relationship wasn’t working out, how down I felt about my job, how awful it was that I couldn’t lose my baby weight and so on.
Everything that depression meant to me circled around focusing on negative thoughts.
So if I wanted to replace that in the best way possible, what would the opposite be?
Then it hit me (actually it took quite a few books and mentors telling me repeatedly, I’ll be honest). What does it mean to focus on the positive aspects of your life? To be thankful for them? We call that feeling Gratitude. That was my opposite.
I talk about gratitude a lot. The reason being, it had so much to do with lifting me out of the hole I was in and creating this life I feel so blessed to be at the center of today. Sure, I did a bunch of nutrition work (which made it easier to bring positive thoughts and energy to my brain) but the best thing I ever did for myself was to start realizing the little things around me every day that made life truly wonderful.
It’s funny because you can walk up to anyone on the street and ask them what they are grateful for and their answer will sound something like this:
“My family. My home. My career. My friends. The shoes on my feet. The food on my table.”
We immediately start talking about the big gratitudes. The things that we have that we wouldn’t want to be without. That’s really great, we must be grateful to have those big ticket items. However, it doesn’t really get you into that zone of gratitude, where you can actually feel it inside of your heart-space. Maybe you’re mad at your spouse that day but you’re still grateful for them. That doesn’t do much to get you truly feeling gratitude.
Not to mention we don’t tend to focus on these big items often. We become reliant on them and sometimes take them for granted.
So it was the “little things” I decided to focus on. Every night, in a notebook inside my bed stand, I would write down the things that made me grateful that day. Eventually I started bringing a tiny notebook everywhere I went.
They looked a bit like this:
- I really enjoyed my cup of tea this morning. I had a moment to sit in silence and enjoy it’s warmth and refreshment.
- I was able to get lost in my work today. It felt great and productive and time flew by.
- My daughter made me laugh until my belly hurt. I got her to laugh uncontrollably with me.
- I had a great conversation with my mom over the phone. She sounded very upbeat and energized.
- I parked at a meter downtown that had 40 minutes left on it. Right next to the place I needed to go!
- I walked through the park at sunrise and felt the chilly air in my lungs, the birds singing in the trees.
- I saw a man buying a beautiful bouquet of flowers at the store and it made me ponder how beautiful love is.
Well, something incredible happened after a few weeks of doing this.
My mind shifted.
I started to automatically pick up on the beautiful things in life, all around me. I started to feel that wonderful feeling of beauty and thankfulness and enjoyment and creation.
I saw happiness in lover’s smiles, I saw cherished looks on mother’s faces, I saw hope in the eyes of awed children.
I saw beauty in the cracks of sidewalks, I saw inspiration in the light of the sunrise and enchantment in the solace of the sunset.
And the negatives? They faded away. I had found something better to focus on.
The best thing a person could do for themselves? Become aware of the positivity around them. It’s always there.
The more you focus on it, the more it becomes you.
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Assistant Editor: Richard May/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: AJ Batac/Flickr.