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How I Unlocked the Power of Gratitude

or: a Bloody Expensive Lesson in Positive Thinking

There is a lot of talk in the online sphere about Positive Thinking, and The Power of Gratitude. I think sometimes these terms get thrown around too easily, and we never really get any ideas on how we can apply a more grateful and optimistic viewpoint in our own life. 

 

Because life happens, right? And it isn't always fun-packed excitement either. Yet, I am reminded of Evan Almighty, and something Morgan Freeman's character, God, says (and I am likely paraphrasing here): "When someone asks for courage, do I make them courageous? Or do I give them a reason to be courageous?"

 

What I am trying to say is this: 

If you want to be more grateful and positive? Find reasons to be grateful and positive!

Here is an example from my own life, that I wrote down for another project back in 2017 (when it actually happened).

I moved into my new house yesterday. I have been looking forward to it for months. This place suit us much better. It is closer to hubby’s work, closer to the activities we like, and closer to our friends. Yeah, that sounds pretty idyllic. Of course—as much as I had tried to ignore the fact—the actual move was exhausting! This morning was the first morning in our new home. We had a long sleep (since hubby didn’t have to work until later in the day), and had a relaxing time laughing at ourselves as we looked for stuff in our boxes. I decided to leave the house with hubby as he went to work so I could go and order us a new washer. As the door closed behind me, we realized we had left the key in the lock on the inside. We were locked out of our brand new apartment.

 

I tried to stay calm as I walked hubby to the tube station. ‘I am going back.’ I said. ‘I need to take care of this.’ So I walked back to the apartment building, fully prepared to face this challenge like an adult. But by the time I got to my front door, that can do attitude evaporated. Then I discovered that my phone provider had canceled my mobile phone service during the move.

 

I slid onto the floor sobbing.

 

I was so tired,  so stressed, and I just didn’t know what to do.

Luckily, my phone had connected to the wifi inside

I used an app and called a friend through it to tell her what had happened. She was at work a few towns over, but she jumped into action. She Googled the information she needed, and called a local locksmith to meet me at my home. ‘They will be there in about 30 minutes.’ She wrote me.

 

When the locksmith got to my door, all he could say was: WOW!

 

Not a very reassuring sound coming from someone who is supposed to get you back into your house. It is like a hairdresser saying oops while cutting your hair.

 

After a little lesson in how utterly heavy duty my front door lock was, the guy got to work.

 

I took him a total of 1 hour and 40 minutes, 10 drill bits ,and 3 lock picky screw things (official name, I’m sure) to get me back in. At that point, my heavy duty lock was more heavy and less duty, so he had to replace the lot.

Total bill: 640 quid!

I had to pay actual money, not this fake stuff I drew myself... If only!
I had to pay actual money, not this fake stuff I drew myself... If only!

I pulled out my debit card and paid the man.

 

I could have let this whole experience ruin my day. But although it had obviously derailed my plans—frustrating and exhausting me— I did not give in to the temptation to be negative.

 

Here is what I took from this experience:

I had a soul sister to call who—without any judgment—jumped into action. I have not always been able to do this comfortably, so it was nice to be able to recognise how far I’ve come.

I had some lovely conversation with a locksmith about patience, problems vs. challenges, and the Hebrew language (not necessarily in that order).

I learned a lot. Not in the least not to leave the key in the lock, but mostly that we all make mistakes in life and we can approach ourselves with kindness and compassion.

I now know that my home is pretty much the Fort Knox of rentals.

I was able to pay an unexpected bill of 640 quid, from my current account, just like that! Which means that I have a solid savings account. Because I have a job that I can live off. Having this to focus on was a bloody new experience! So despite the situation, this was something to celebrate.

After I was back inside—and after a relaxing cup of coffee—I walked out to the market. I bought the ingredients  I needed for the lovely Moroccan style chicken stew with couscous, nuts, and herbs I would make that night. I even got a free pomegranate because the register in the fruit shop was not working! So when I got home, I was already feeling a lot better.

 

Don’t get me wrong, it was a shitty experience. And trust me: there was a bottle of wine in that shopping bag. What I’m saying, though, is that I got through it because I  chose to focus on the blessings in my life.

What Can You Take Away fROM THis?

Finding the positives in things that initially seem negative, is a bit of a skill. It takes practice, and that means finding the positive lessons and being grateful whenever you can. Here are some ideas to get you started:

#1. - Start Small

Don't try and overhaul your entire mindset in one big leap. Start with small things. Maybe your favorite juice was sold out when you went in for breakfast this morning, but that meant you got to try something else that also tasted great! Once you start seeing the positive in small disappointments, you will train your brain to do the same for bigger challenges you face.

#2. - Keep a Gratitude Journal

It helped me a lot to write down what I had been grateful for, every day. In fact, I made the challenge to write down only one thing every day, that had made me feel grateful. It meant that I took some time to think of all the good things that had happened in the day, and pick the very best out of the bunch. This helped me see how many good things are actually happening, all the time. We just tend to notice the problems more (since they require our attention and action).

#3. - Don't Push Down Your Emotions

This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is absolutely true! You emotions are just messengers. So, if you feel frustrated or angry, deal with that emotion. Don't just push it down and cover it up with a positive thought. Honestly, I had to deal with shame, frustration and a bunch of anger the day I locked myself out. I processed those things, along with finding positive take-aways. These two things are not mutually exclusive.

I wrote this post for a previous project back in 2017, but I feel it bears repeating. If you wonder how I let a pretty shitty day teach me how amazing my life really is... this is the one to read :)