Sometimes I have crazy days where nothing goes as planned.
Maybe I realize it’s almost noon and I haven’t had a chance to get anything work-related done yet. Or maybe I’m putting the kiddos to bed and realize that, while I checked things off my to-do list, they weren’t my priorities. Or maybe I start my day off well, but within an hour or two I’m juggling unexpected interruptions and reacting to minor emergencies rather than doing what I’d planned to do.
This can especially happen during the craziness of the holidays, because there’s so much more to get done than usual, so many more commitments to keep and so many more responsibilities to fulfill.
Sometimes when that happens, when the craziness starts to take over and I can feel the overwhelm creeping in, my mind starts to go to that where negative thoughts take over.
Thankfully, the tool we need to shift out of those thoughts and get grounded in what we know to be true is as simple as gratitude.
Yep, that’s right: Gratitude.
Being able to see the good and appreciate what we do have is a powerful tool to help you stay grounded when you’re feeling the rush and overwhelm of the holidays.
You might say, “Well, that’s easy. Of course I’m grateful. Of course I’m thankful for the things in my life that are good. But I still feel anxious and overwhelmed when life gets hectic and crazy.”
And you’d be right. It is kind of easy to feel gratitude–when things are going well, when things are organized and not so chaotic. Who isn’t thankful for the good things in their lives?
But what about in the times when things aren’t going the way you’d like them to? Is it easy then? No, if you haven’t been practicing gratitude consciously, it’s NOT easy to feel it in those moments.
And yet the act of mindfully considering and listing out things that you’re grateful for helps you stay positive and focused in the times when it’s a little harder to see the good in your life.
I’ve been practicing gratitude and working my gratitude muscles for several years now. It’s one of the first tools I started using to shift myself out of depression, and move through the stress and overwhelm of new motherhood. Which means now, when I notice my thoughts turning to all the things I didn’t get done, all the mistakes I’ve made, how I’ve ruined my day or my plans, I can take a deep breath and more easily shift those thoughts. I can more readily think of all the things I AM grateful for: That I have the time and flexibility to shift plans when things come up. That I have a vehicle that gets us where we need to go. That I have a meditation practice that keeps me centered and focused in the midst of what seems like chaos. The list goes on and on, as I’m sure yours does.
But that definitely takes conscious practice. It takes focusing on gratitude when things are going well to start building up those gratitude muscles. It takes beginning to work them and build them a little more by noticing when we get caught up in negative thoughts and interrupting them with gratitude and appreciation.
Then we start to notice that when we can focus on the things that we can be grateful for rather than getting caught up in the mire of negativity, and when we can do this regularly, gratitude becomes the filter through which we start to see our world. An attitude of gratitude helps us to see the good in the not-so-good times. It helps us to move through challenging moments and seasons without getting stuck and overwhelmed and frustrated (as much).
So when you start to feel the chaos of life creeping in on you, take a few moments to consciously turn to your gratitude practice. It may take a little effort in the beginning, but it will change things tremendously.
Keep working those gratitude muscles and create a gratitude habit to keep you grounded during the hectic holiday season…and beyond.