Unless you have been living up in some remote mountain village for the past few years (which I take it you have not since you are reading this), you have probably heard of the concepts of positive thinking and gratitude before. Yes? Have you made the connection between the two before? The way I see it, positivity and gratitude are intimately linked. Together, daily practices of positivity and gratitude can bring about an incredible sense of joy, clarity and happiness into your life.
So in case you are still wondering what I might be talking about with all of this, here are my (rough) definitions of positivity and gratitude:
Positivity: is the practice of choosing positive thoughts, words and actions, and repeating positive affirmations in order to cultivate a positive mindset and attitude towards life. Ultimately, positivity (especially the repetition of affirmations) leads to the manifestation of these affirmations in your life. For example, repeating “I accept and love myself unconditionally right now” will re-wire your brain in such a way that after continuous practice self-acceptance and love will become true in your life. It might seem magical and that is because it is!
Gratitude: is the practice of consciously acknowledging the things in your life for which you are truly grateful. Common gratitude practices include simply listing several things in your head in the morning or before you fall asleep, or better yet starting a gratitude journal and writing it down. Gratitude can also be practiced within a meditation or out-loud in conversation with your loved ones. Gratitude has been scientifically proven time and time again to be a powerful tool for increasing one’s sense of contentment with their life, improving sleep, reducing stress and anxiety and just generally making for a better and more joyous life. Once again, magical!
Personally, I practice both gratitude and positivity every day, although not strictly consciously. This is because I truly believe in the attractive power of your thoughts and habits, meaning that you attract the kind of energy you put out into the world. It might be harsh but it is true: if you are negative (negative thoughts, words and actions) you will attract only more negativity into your life. The good news is the reverse is also true – positive thoughts and words will cultivate positivity in your life. Similarly with gratitude, expressing your gratitude for the things that you have in your life will bring more of the things you desire into your life. It is the magical way of the Universe/God/Buddha/whatever you want to call it.
I truly believe in the power of positivity and gratitude, heck I even dedicated half of my blog to positivity. For me, adopting a positive mindset and practice affirmations was absolutely a catalyst for me changing my life, and they continue to be. (Side note: if you want to know a little more about my journey from a negative, practically depressed young girl with no self-esteem to the person I am today, check out my About Me page). It saddens me deeply to see people everywhere, including some of my beloved family and friends, going about their daily lives surrounded by a cloud of negativity. They don’t know how wonderful and amazing life can be because all they can see is what is going wrong, what is not working, the failures and the mistakes. They focus their energy on these things and then wonder why more “bad” stuff keeps happening to them. They think that positive and happy people are so because their life is all goodness and sugar and spice, but that is not the case. Positive and happy people are so because they appreciate what they do have in life, no matter how small that is.
I could go on all day with persuading you of the benefits of positivity and gratitude, but instead I will give you some practical exercises to do to implement these practices into your daily life.
- Repeat positive affirmations. Whatever it is that you are struggling with in your life can be improved with affirmations. Take something that you stew over and dwell on and create a positive statement about how you would like the situation to be. For example, if you are single and you always say/think no one could ever love you/you are unlovable etc, then whenever this thought pops into your head repeat a positive affirmation such as “I am deeply loved and loveable.” Choose whatever statement rings true for you, but ensure that the statement is in the first person (I), present tense (am), and unconditional (i.e. not “I will be loveable when I am skinner/financially secure/prettier). You can have as many affirmations as you like, whatever feels appropriate.
- Start a gratitude practice/journal. When you wake up in the morning, start your day by thinking or listing all the things you can think of that you are grateful for. You may like to simply jot down three things in a journal (this is my personal preference), or write an extended list. Repeat this again each night to really reap the benefits of gratitude.
Now for the nitty-gritty part. Positivity and gratitude is easy enough for the things in your life that are obviously good, such as going to a great school/university/workplace, having wonderful personal relationships, being financially secure and so on. But the real power and magic of these practices come from finding the positive side of something you perceive to be negative, and being truly grateful for these things. This can be incredibly tricky, as finding a silver lining in something truly awful challenges our personal beliefs. But it can be done, and when done well it can radically change your perception of a situation.
One of my most pertinent personal examples of this is my skin. I’ve had acne for more than half my life now and it has, at times, been utterly depressing and shattering for my self-esteem. I can remember avoiding mirrors and hating looking at myself because all I saw was a face full of pimples. I was disgusted by my skin and never felt beautiful. Over the years I started to practice positive affirmations about my skin, repeating things such as “I have clear and radiant skin” and simply “I am beautiful”. That was about four years ago. Then, about two months ago, I was looking in the mirror as I cleansed my face and I looked really deeply at my skin. I saw it for exactly what it was – scars, pimples, imperfections and blotches. And it didn’t disgust me. In fact I actually liked my skin. I was deeply grateful for my skin in that moment. Somehow, I had found a way to be grateful for the pimples that had, up until that moment, caused me nothing but pain and anguish. The shift was immediate and radical. And you know the funny thing, since then my skin has continued to clear… just like MAGIC!
No matter who you are, no matter what you are struggling with, I promise you that incorporating positivity and gratitude into your daily routine will improve your life magically! Try it for 30 days, what is the worst thing that could happen?
Do you practice gratitude and/or positivity?
Love Erica xx