It is the beginning of the end of Lockdown in Scotland and after months of staying at home apart from short walks and visits to the supermarket for food, the country is beginning to waken up. We can now go to pubs, restaurants, the cinema and get our hair cut after 16 weeks of isolation. We can even travel beyond 5 miles to enjoy a day out and go wherever we want to go. Why then do I not feel more elated than I should? Have you ever waited so long for something to arrive, really looked forward to an event or to getting something you have saved for, counting the days like a child waiting for Christmas, only when you get to where you were going, it doesn’t seem quite as exciting after all.
After months of staying home every day my habits have changed, my whole routine has changed. I now do the same thing day after day and almost hour after hour and I find I am enjoying my new routine. I quite like the familiarity of doing the same thing day after day like an old dressing gown, that you know you should replace but it is just so comfy that you worry a new one will just not have the same feel.
Going out in the world again is beginning to feel a wee bit scary, there is an underlying sense of unease. I am sure after a while I will create a whole new set of habits based around what will be our new normal, and life with freedom from lockdown with precautions with become my new reality.
So, what am I looking forward to? The strange thing is nothing. I have spent the last 4 months looking forwards to doing all the things I could not do and now I am getting what I want, I am not sure it matters any more.
Is that what life is really like? Is that what we spend our lives doing? Looking forward to something, believing that when it happens then we will be happy, that everything will be alright in our world when X happens, only to arrive there and we then think of something else we want. Something else that we need, if only we had Y then we would be happy, our life would be perfect. And on and on we go missing the whole point of life and living our life in the moment, today. Enjoying each moment as it comes along and seeing in each moment the best that it has to offer. Being grateful for everything you have now, not what you might have in the future. But not a dismissive gratitude, not a quick thought and then forgotten, but a savouring and exploring of each thing you are grateful for.
There is an exercise where we have to think of 10 things that we are grateful for before going to sleep at night and 10 things we are grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning. It is a great idea as long as we do not just tick them off one by one on our fingertips, like a shopping list of groceries we need for tonight’s dinner. Everything changes if we can think each one through, like little sub thoughts, and think how each one makes you feel and why you are grateful for it.
If you are grateful for fresh air, then why? Apart from keeping you alive, it makes me feel good when I breathe it in, deep down into my lungs. I love to be in the fresh air in the country or at the sea, breathing air deeply into my body and breathing out old stale air and pollutants. I can physically feel myself breathing in new life. Such a simple act, but it is so powerful at improving how we feel.
I am also grateful for my grandchildren, for oxytocin that is released when I cuddle them, when they hold my hand. You do not need any artificial stimulants to enjoy your life when you have a grandchild. No grandchildren? Cuddle your child, your pet or find someone else’s pet.
So there is 2 out my 10 for this morning, not a list but a Gratitude with Attitude list, not a throw-away, quick counting on my fingers to get the job done, but a slow, methodical savouring of each one, like a child exploring something new. Asking yourself the question with curiosity, why does this fill me with gratitude?
What is the definition of gratitude?
“The quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness”
When we practice being grateful for everything in our life it can fill us with an abundance of good feeling that can bubble up, spill out of us, and spread to other people in our life. It removes negativity and the negative thoughts that can drag us down. When we have so much to be grateful for, right now, right in this moment, why would we need to look forward to some mysterious event that may or may not happen in the future and may or may not make us happy.
When you fill your life with so much gratitude there is no space left for unwanted thoughts, no space for worrying about the future or dwelling on events that happened in the past.
Another great advantage of thinking about your 10 things to be grateful for before going to sleep is that it is great for helping you to drift off into a more peaceful sleep as you fill your mind up with happy thoughts and give direction to where you would like your dreams to go.
One of the reasons we find it difficult to get to sleep at night is that our minds start wondering to worries of the future or back to past events that you wish you could change so that things would have worked out differently. Filling your mind with gratitude leaves no room for these disturbing thoughts that start to pass through our mind as soon as our head hits the pillow.
So, next time when you get into bed, if these negative thoughts drift by into your thinking mind just pop them into an imaginary mini hot air balloon and watch them drift off into the distance. Then come back to your 10 reasons to be grateful and give it some attitude.