There’s no question that counting your blessings can make you feel better, but if it becomes something you do on auto pilot and you’re not fully conscious of what you’re saying, it ceases to be meaningful.
If that happens to you try this:
When you’re focusing on what’s going wrong in your life, what you don’t like, who’s behavior annoys you or despair over world affairs, focus on what’s right, right now.
What’s right in your body?
What’s right in your relationships?
What’s working in your home?
What’s right in your self nurturing practices, like exercising, eating well, sleeping enough, talking lovingly and compassionately to yourself, meditating, learning, being kind and generous, etc.
The quickest way to do this: Every time you notice something wrong or disturbing train yourself to immediately ask “And what’s right, right now?”
All cognitive behavior therapy centers on reframing your thoughts. A gratitude practice is a beautiful way to do this, as is mindfulness, meditation, reading inspirational books, watching uplifting videos, listening to music, moving your body, taking time in nature and anything that shifts your internal gears and perspective. This practice: seeking out what’s right in your life and paying attention to it, is something you can do when those options are not readily available, or when none of them appeals to you. It’s also a great option for times when you want a deeper, more holistic look at your life.
Unhappiness often comes from focusing intensely on one thing that’s not going well in life. This laser like focus on the negative can eclipse everything else. The practice of attending to what’s right, not only shifts your perspective but broadens it. By widening your worldview you begin to relax, and appreciate everything that’s going well for you right now.
If you’re really feeling despondent, please sit down and, with or without a journal, notice what you’re feeling emotionally, physically, and thinking. The most important thing is to notice what’s true for you this minute. This “finding what’s right, right now” practice is meant for times when you’ve already done that or you just need a quick shift in perspective.
I know there are some skeptics among you who might say: “Yes, Nicole, I can count all the things that are going right in my life and there are many, but right now they don’t matter as much to me as what’s driving me to despair.” That’s a legitimate and very real perspective when you’re in the thick of it. Part of this practice involves convincing yourself that the things you’re choosing to focus on matter. They’ve mattered a lot to you in the past. While they may not be in the forefront of your mind at the moment, I’m pretty sure they will bring you joy again in the future. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just keep breathing. So many of the practices I suggest on this site are simply ways of getting through the challenging times to the next good experience.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang