It’s easy to be grateful when things are going your way.
But when times are uncertain and life has thrown a spanner in the works gratitude often becomes a little more challenging.
Suddenly the most prominent things are the bad stuff and you’re not thankful for your life being turned upside down.
In these times it’s even more important to practice gratitude.
The real benefits of the practice come when you’re able to make it a part of your lifestyle, independent of your circumstances.
And so maybe it used to be I’m grateful for getting to be apart of this exciting project or some other major thing that you feel like shouting from the rooftops. But now it’s more like I’m grateful for these cosy socks, the flowers in my garden and running water.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that you only have 2 options.
Do nothing or do what everyone else is doing.
Sometimes that works out okay but other times you need a third option.
That third option is to carve you’re own path and do what feels best for you.
And sure that might draw attention to you or people will have something to say about you straying from the norm but it’s better than the alternative.
I’ve learnt that it’s important to be able to stand in your truth without considering other peoples opinions and thoughts before you’re own.
It could be pursuing a career that others see as risky, taking a solo trip or even speaking up about issues that are important to you.
It doesn’t matter what it is but it does matter that you do what’s right for you.
A major contributing factor to moving forward in life is being able to let things go.
It could be physical possessions, people or memories and experiences.
An easy example is if you tried something and it didn’t work out. If you can’t let go of the thing that didn’t work you may find that it underlies future situations when you try something new.
Suddenly you’ve become someone that believes that nothing will work out for you, you become closed off to new things and remain stagnant.
That may seem extreme but that’s the reality of life. You won’t realise how much that one situation affected you until you’re randomly pondering life one Sunday afternoon.
I don’t think there’s one specific way to let go, what works for one may not work for another so it’s important to figure it out for yourself.
That thing you’ve been working on could be the reason you end up quitting your job or it could just be a labour of love.
That word just has a way of diminishing the words that follow. It makes it seem as though a labour of love is a bad thing but it’s not, at least not to me anyway.
Not every project or thing you work on is supposed to be how you earn a living or even make you money. And it’s not about promoting the idea of the struggling artist who puts their heart and passion into all that they do but can’t make ends meet.
It’s about the person that works as a receptionist but leads a conservation volunteer group on the weekends or the Math teacher that also paints.
The significance, importance or worthiness of what you do should not be based on how much money you make or even how popular you are.
I think creativity, vulnerability, connection, generosity and joy matter so much more.
Like ice cube said ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself’.
So we recently had our annual performance reviews at work and something I took from it was that it’s important to assess yourself throughout the year.
When you let a year go by without assessing how you’re doing there’s a higher chance you’ll be surprised by what your manager tells you at the end of the year.
I think assessing yourself quarterly (or even monthly) will help you better understand how you’re doing and what you need to work on. It doesn’t have to be with your manager, it could be with another colleague or you could do it alone.
That way you can pick up on the things you need to work on, make changes and then later reassess.
You should work on getting better, expanding your knowledge and trying new things for you. Not to appease your boss or because you know it’s ‘just part of the process’.
This is one of those ‘you get out what you put in’ kinda circumstances.
Yes, no, maybe so.
There’s a thing in NLP about outcome based actions, that what we do should be based on the outcome we desire.
But recently I found myself thinking about how it’s important to not be too attached to the way things turn out.
At least not to the point where you crash and burn when things don’t go to plan.
It’s an interesting balance between action and outcome.
Sometimes we do things we wouldn’t normally do in the hopes of getting what we want. Sometimes it works out in our favour and other times not so much.
I believe that your actions should be done in support of your desired outcome but you shouldn’t be so attached to the result that you’re disheartened if things don’t work out.
Because no matter how hard you try, wish and will, their is only one single factor that you can actually control.
There’s probably around 1-3 things that are priority but 101 things that you could be doing.
So of course you do the 101 things that aren’t particularly important and spend the day flitting between them all. But then later comes, the things you should have been doing are now even more urgent than they were earlier when you had more time.
You got so caught up in things of little significance that you barely have the energy left to do what actually needs to be done.
More often than not you’ll get it done but it won’t be as good as it could have been, not by a long shot.
Here are is one of the most useful questions I ask myself when deciding what’s important.
Does this thing matter in the grand scheme of life and death?
It might seem bleak or a little full on but sometimes we need something extreme to snap ourselves out of a cycle of unhelpful thinking. As someone that is prone to getting anxious I find that seemingly small things are amplified in my brain and I do genuinely feel as though they are life and death.
Asking the question above allows me to think more consciously and clearly. For example being rejected, failing an exam or having a crooked nose are all things that are easy to worry about but do not matter in the grand scheme of life and death.
The things you focus on and put your time and energy into are the things that grow and thrive. So if you decide to give more to how you feel about your crooked nose over focusing on the book you’ve always wanted to write, it’s your choice.
I was daydreaming a few weeks ago and I had this idea about what to do with all the thoughts whirling around in my mind.
Get a piece of paper.
Draw a line down the middle.
On one side write the title ‘things that matter.
On the other side write the title ‘things that don’t matter’
Write down the stuff on your mind into one of the 2 categories and then make a promise to yourself that you won’t allow the things that you know don’t matter to consume your time and energy.
For everything else on the other side, try and sort it out.
Maybe it’s bothering you that you haven’t spoken to a friend for a while so instead of just dwelling and probably making up a bunch of scenarios, just give them a call.
The point of the exercise is to be more practical with the things that are on your mind and to remind you that just because you keep thinking about something, it doesn’t make it important.