First published on Huffington Post, June 25, 2013.
Is there someone in your life whose mere presence drives you crazy?
Has a certain situation got you all stirred up, but you’re not sure how to fix it?
Have you ever been completely convinced you were right, yet no one else seems to care?
Yes! Yes! And yes! We’ve all been there. And how do we usually handle it when we are bothered and frustrated and can’t seem to shake it off? Maybe some of these strategies sound familiar:
- We play out the complaint, the conversation, or the annoying behavior in our minds repeatedly.
- We bitch and moan to anyone who will listen until they agree with our point of view.
- We try to fix the problem by analyzing every detail, every possible scenario.
- We have an imaginary conversation with the object of our discontent — a few hundred times — until we are convinced we know how it is all going to play out.
While these strategies may make us feel good for a moment or leave us with a sense of superiority, the gratification is fleeting. You have to admit — rehashing our grievances doesn’t change anything nor does it really make us feel any better.
The other day I found myself wallowing in protest over a certain state of affairs, and it was getting the best of me. I went over it and over it in my head. I found a friend and explained it to her. I sent a text to my husband and griped to him about it. My shoulders were slumped and I wished I had a box of cookies to wash down how upset I was about the situation.
But being upset wasn’t solving anything. I needed to shift my focus away from my complaint and break free from the state of negativity I had gotten myself into. I looked out the window and told myself to find one thing I was grateful for. It didn’t take long. The sun was shining, glistening off the water in the fountain outside my office. That brought a smile to my face. I sat there for a moment and soaked it in — not just the sun — but I soaked in the smile too. I allowed myself to feel the glow of appreciation for a beautiful, sunshiny day.
Whatever we fill our minds with, that is the energy we will live in. If we fill our minds with faultfinding, we live in a state of blame and negativity. If we fill our minds with praise and gratitude, we will live in a state of deep satisfaction.
The energy of gratitude is higher-level energy. It is life-affirming. It builds up rather than tears down. When we find ourselves fixated and upset, it helps if we can shine a little light on what is good, what is right, what is working.
No one, or no thing, is all bad. We can always find a little ray of sunshine. If the current situation (or a certain person) in your life is bothering you, see if you can find something in it (or in the person) to be grateful for.
Having a problem with a coworker? Think about an aspect of your work you love, and pour yourself into it.
Are you upset about the choices your child, friend, or spouse is making? Think about how they make you laugh or feel loved, and how grateful you are that they are part of your life.
If you haven’t been feeling well, focus on and praise whatever health you are experiencing. Do you feel strong? Can you breathe in deeply? Appreciate your healthy body.
Tired of one of your own bad habits? Shift your attention to one of your accomplishments. Allow yourself to feel proud and powerful.
And if you can’t find anything about your current situation to be grateful for, be grateful for something else — any appreciation will do. Once we think of one good thing, then we think of another, and another.
Focusing on the good lifts us into a state where our creativity resides with power, confidence, encouragement, love, and blessing. When we are in this state, we step into our true power.
The funny thing is that I never “solved” any of those issues I was so upset about the other day, but I don’t care. None of it was mine to “solve” in the first place. The biggest problem I had was allowing myself to get sucked into a state of negativity, which left me incapable of creating anything of value. I was uninspired and defeated. When I shifted my focus to gratitude, I was able to rise above it and move on.
In the end, it comes down to simply finding something that is working, something that makes us happy — some strength, quality, or experience that reminds us how wonderful life truly is. Hang on to that little ray of sunshine until your state of mind shifts.
Peace and blessings to you!