Carrie Brooks is a professional life coach and author, who lives in Greenwich. This week, she talks to Weekender readers about the power of gratitude.
“All this talk about the importance of gratitude, what’s it all about? It has been proven by extensive research in positive psychology that developing a more positive mindset can lead to a more successful life and a vastly improved sense of personal fulfilment. Thinking happy results in us being happy.
In the Western world the vast majority of us are running a negative mindset. What I mean by that is that we are focusing on what we believe is not going right in our lives, what we believe we are not getting, essentially embracing a negative bias. This is a choice. You know how it is when we get home after a long day and think to ourselves ‘well that was a rubbish day!’ Was all your day rubbish or was it that you are just focusing on the things that didn’t go right, while completely ignoring the good stuff that also happened? There is always some good stuff, some little ray of sunshine in your day and adopting a positive mindset starts with acknowledging and noticing the good stuff as it happens while we go about our day. It can be as simple as a smile from a stranger as you squeeze into an already overcrowded tube, it can be a compliment, it can simply be noticing the change in the seasons. It is fundamentally about making the choice to actually take time to notice the little things that brighten our day so when the really good things happen, they produce an amazing feeling of pure joy!
One strategy that I recommend to all my clients, that helps to significantly shift us into a more a more positive way of thinking, is to keep a Gratitude Journal. This little practice takes about two minutes a day but is proven to affect our subconscious and move towards an appreciation of the good things we have in our lives.
Have a little note book by your bed and just before you lay your head on your pillow to sleep, write down five things that you have appreciated in your day. It can be quite simple, like the bus driver waiting for you when he had already just shut the doors, a delicious cup of coffee, or a heart-warming chat with a friend. Anything that made you feel even momentarily good. Now, by running through the good things in your day, you will automatically focus your attention on to them and therefore take this good feeling into your sleep, where your subconscious gets to work on it all night. Powerful stuff that if done regularly starts to shift your consciousness into a much more positive state. Try it for a month and see how you feel.
Having a more positive mindset ensures that you enjoy life more and also improves your resilience to life’s many challenges. It is a win-win situation and in order to start thinking and feeling this way we just need to take the first little step. This first step entails becoming aware when we are automatically going straight into our usual negative default. In a nutshell, when we are just thinking negatively because it’s become a habit, our go-to reaction, we now need to ask ourselves the question ‘Can I flip this into a positive, can I see this a different way?’ Even this simple question will challenge the negative mindset and introduce the new and exciting thought that we do have a choice about how we feel.
Appreciating and valuing the many experiences we have daily has the knock-on effect of enriching our lives and making us feel good. What’s not to love?”