I don’t want to say that life is hard, but as we all know, it’s not always easy either. Not only does the world that we live in constantly try to pull us in seemingly every direction, but the fact that we are facing so much uncertainty right now is only making matters worse.
I opened up my computer this morning and mistakenly started browsing the news. It felt as though every single heading that I read was talking about the pandemic that we are facing. “So and so Tests Positive For Coronavirus” “Stock Markets Plummet Due To Coronavirus” “Doctors Evicted From Their Homes in India as Fear Spreads.”
As I started scrolling to find something that I felt was actually going to be worthwhile to read, I could feel my chest start to tighten. All I have heard about for the last month is how the coronavirus has negatively impacted the world. Not once did I see anything that focused on the good in life.
After only a few brief moments of scrolling through the news, I finally had to shut everything down, close my eyes, and breathe. In just a matter of moments, I had gone from upbeat and lively to anxious and stressed.
I understand that we are having to alter our lives in more ways than usual during these challenging times, but does that mean that we need to quit focusing on all that we have in life and all that we are as individuals? Make no mistake, times are incredibly scary right now, but why does that mean we have to stop focusing on all that is good?
With the widespread of media (especially negative media), it’s no wonder that depression rates are at an all-time high, that 40 million adults in the U.S. alone suffer from some form of an anxiety disorder, that addiction rates continue to rise year after year, or that unhappiness and misery has become the new normal way of life. It’s hard to open your computer or your phone without being immediately sucked into the negativity of the world around us.
How To Change Negative Beliefs, Be Happy, And Live A Better Life
Maybe your life isn’t moving in the direction in which you want it to go, or maybe your mind is having a difficult time focusing on the positives and constantly focusing on the negatives instead.
If so, I have one word for you; gratitude.
We have all heard it thousands of times before, but few actually know what it means to be grateful. Even fewer know how to live a life of gratitude.
Being grateful doesn’t mean that you simply write down what you are grateful for when you are feeling stressed in hopes that it will help to combat the negative emotions that you are feeling. Gratitude is a daily practice that you have to be willing to implement into your life and intentionally prioritize it during both the good and the hard times.
Consumed By Negativity
Gratitude can help to change your life in three areas: your past, your present, and your future.
Growing up, it’s no secret that I was not the most popular of kids. I never excelled at sports, was an average student, and while I had my fair share of friends, I was also picked on and teased a lot.
All I wanted in life was to be liked by everyone around me. But the more I focused on trying to become popular, the more miserable I felt.
I started looking back on my past and wondered what I had done wrong. I focused on all of the mistakes that I had made and blamed those mistakes for not being where I wanted to be in life.
Then I started beating myself up in the present moment. I had become so fearful of making mistakes that I never took any chances on myself. I never did anything to improve on the person that I was and simply played life safe just so that others wouldn’t think of me as a failure.
All of this led to a negative outlook on my future. I had become so accustomed to playing life safe that it felt as though I had completely forgotten how to take a chance on myself in the first place. Admittingly, it something that I still struggle with from time to time.
I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. Instead, I want to show you how focusing on one area of your life can impact every area. The more I allowed my past to beat me up, the less enjoyable it made my present, and the less optimism I had for my future. Everything seemed to be intertwined.
How Gratitude Can Change Your Life For The Better
It wasn’t until I started to make gratitude a daily practice in my life that I was able to start turning my life around. Unfortunately, it was not an immediate fix, but day after day, my life started to improve. I had never focused on gratitude before because I was judgmental and didn’t think that it was important, but I will be the first to admit that I was completely wrong.
Every morning as we wake up and roll out of bed, we have a choice to make. We can either live a life with gratitude and focus on all that we are as a person and all that we already have in life, or we can focus on what’s missing or the mistakes that we have made. Just know that only one of these will help you to live a better life.
It All Starts With Your Past
The funny part about life is that everybody makes mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, but the more we try to prevent ourselves from making any, the more miserable our lives are going to become.
At first, it was hard to change my perception of mistakes. I used to think that making mistakes meant that I was a failure. The truth of the matter is that making mistakes doesn’t mean that we are failures, they mean that we are challenging ourselves, pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, and learning new skills that we have not yet learned.
As challenging as it may be to do, be grateful for your mistakes. Be grateful that you have the opportunity to make mistakes, be grateful that you have the strength to pick yourself back up after making mistakes, and be grateful that you have the opportunity to grow and create a better life for yourself as a result of making those mistakes.
Gratitude Will Change Your Present
Once you learn to accept your past and find the good in the mistakes that you have made, then your present life will start to change. No longer will you be scared of mistakes or scared to take chances on yourself.
This was the biggest benefit that I noticed from learning to be grateful for my past. As difficult as it was, it helped me to find a sense of peace and stillness in my present life – almost as if the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders.
Being grateful for the past also taught me to go with the flow of life. I am but a small speck in this universe, but yet, I would spend much of my time trying to control every aspect of my life. If something didn’t go according to plan, I would torment myself emotionally and again question my worth.
When you learn to go with the flow of life, it doesn’t mean that you live without a purpose. It simply means that you recognize that there is more to the world than just you. Very rarely will things ever go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up over it. It simply means that you have accepted the fact that you only have so much control, but you are still willing to make the most out of every circumstance that life throws your way because that’s a better option than the alternative.
Your Future Will Look A Lot Brighter
Lastly, your future. I used to be terrified of my future. I had goals that I wanted to achieve throughout my life, but I had absolutely zero confidence in my ability to actually achieve them. I was a 20-year old who wasn’t willing to work during the school year and would only work a part-time job during the summer for $8.25 per hour. Part of me was scared that I was never going to snap out of that mindset and that I was going to be stuck forever.
Even as I transitioned into a corporate position, I still feared the worst. I always had a fear of getting fired, a fear of never doing enough, and a fear that I would never achieve any more success than I had already seen.
Living a life of gratitude helped to open my eyes to the endless possibilities around me. I found the strength to apply to a new job and even took a pay-cut for it. While some might think that is a poor decision on my part, I believe that it was one of the best ones I have ever made.
For the first time in my life, I felt optimistic about the future and knew that this temporary pay cut would lead to far bigger and better possibilities in the future. Had it not of been for focusing on living a life of gratitude, I probably would have never found that strength and courage to “gamble” on my future.
As difficult as it may be at first, living a life of gratitude will be the best choice that you can make for both your present self and for your future self as well. You are the one who has the power to change your perception of your past. You are the one who has the ability to change your present and create the life that you want for yourself. And you are the one who has the ability to influence your future and give your life a sense of direction.
Every morning when you wake up, give yourself some time to reflect. Think about and write down some of the things that you are most grateful for in life. Whether it is your health, being around your family, the fact that you have a job, the fact that you have a roof over your head, or any other blessing in life, be grateful for it.
In focusing on all that you have, all that you are, and all that you have achieved over the course of your life, you will be able to put the negative thoughts of others to rest. No longer will you have to live in fear and misery. Instead, the more you practice gratitude and make the choice to live with it, the better your life will become.
Take ownership of your life, make a choice that is going to better your present life and your future life, and live with gratitude. Only you have the ability to do so.