It is truly lovely to experience the rugged nature of the north coast and its friendly and welcoming people. That said, the uncertainty ahead of the trip and the unknown that awaited us all, at times felt quite challenging.
Of course, diving into the unknown is rarely comfortable. Yet it so often results in our biggest growth and positive developments.
That’s all well and good to know intellectually, but it doesn’t necessarily make is any easier to dive into and embrace the uncertainty! May that be a change of home, work, relationship or any other significant part of our lives.
Having just been through a pretty long period of uncertainty, today I’m reflecting on the power of being thankful. To notice the things in our lives for which we are grateful and really experience the joy that gives us.
Because when we go through a period of uncertainty, gratitude is an amazing antidote to the anxiety and worry that otherwise can set in.
The same goes for other challenging times, such as periods of bad luck, personal or professional set backs or any kind of disappointments.
Focus on the things you feel are uncontrollable, annoying or unfair and all you see and experience are their presence.
Instead, notice the things to be grateful for and the uncomfortable emotions are mitigated – reduced or prevented from growing too big in the first place.
And, of course, many of the things you may notice and enjoy in easy times are still just a present during the more challenging ones.
May that be the first cup of tea in the morning, holding your child’s hand, cuddling your pet, feeling the love and support from a good friend, partner or parent. The potential list is endless! Whatever it is that is important to you, stop and notice it. Both the large and the little.
Acknowledging them really makes a difference to our happiness and life satisfaction on a bigger scale than in just the moment when you notice something you’re thankful for.
If you’re like me and like a degree of evidence before you buy into a notion, the good news is that I don’t just base this on my own observations and experiences. There’s plenty of scientific evidence for the power of gratitude too.
Which brings me onto the major researcher, Dr Robert A Emmons, who called gratitude ‘the hidden factor in happiness’.
He found that grateful people experience reduced stress and depression whilst enjoying higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality and optimism. So, by practising grateful thinking you can reduce your stress levels and take control of your happiness levels.
Because all these thankful moments add up to hours, days, months and your reality!
Importantly, grateful people are less focused on the internal, and more on the interpersonal. They define their success less in terms of materialism and more by the quality of their relationships.
And people glow in gratitude. Saying thank you makes the other person happy and will strengthen the emotional bond. Gratitude feeds gratitude – so the chances are that we will glow in the reciprocal gratitude before long. With lots of positive emotions associated with feeling appreciated, feeling close to someone and feeling lucky (rather than entitled)!
So how could increased gratitude benefit you and those you care for?
Listen to yourself and think of options where you could say thank you, smile and look for the reasons you’re lucky or fortunate.
This isn’t about denying that there are difficulties, unfairness and ills around at times, but it involves encouraging more of what we want to have and experience rather what we don’t want. Because what we focus on we get more of!
Send out ripples and who knows how far they’ll reach, and in what ways they’ll be returned. And who knows what new waters you’ll dare to enter as a result too.
Hopefully you and the people around you will soon glow in gratitude as well as sunshine this summer!