Last week I shared a post about how to reframe your failures as a series of small wins. I want to continue that thought and share a really cool thing I’ve been doing lately that I’ve found to very helpful.
I recently came across an idea about how you can use statements of gratitude as an antidote for negative thinking. I thought it sounded interesting, gave it a shot and it’s been working very well.
*I would attribute the original article but I can’t remember where I saw it.
Like many people I have been plagued by a steady stream of negative thoughts from the time I was a little boy. The thoughts seem to come the most after something bad happens, or after I try something and fail at it.
For example, I recently lost some serious money while testing a campaign – my head said “Oh my God I lost so much money on this campaign, I must be an idiot!”.
It also comes in much lighter doses on a daily basis. For example “WTF! I only got X number of comments on this blog post! I guess no one cares…” or “My phone won’t stop! Everyone is driving me crazy!”
All of these things are pretty simple situations that are going to happen over and over again throughout my life.
- The phone will always ring
- Some blog posts won’t be as popular as others
- I’ll always lose money on new campaigns
So if I’m going to have to deal with all these things in the future, can I deal with them in a better way?
Two Statements in One
If you notice the way that these statements are phrased, they are actually two statements in one.
- There’s the first part, which deals with reality
- And a second part which is personal, negative and completely untrue.
Part 1: “Oh my God I lost so much money on this campaign!” (True)
Part 2: “I must be an idiot!” (Untrue)
Part 1: “WTF! I only got X number of comments on this blog post!” (True)
Part 2: “I guess no one cares…” (Untrue)
Part 1: “My phone won’t stop ringing!” (True)
Part 2: “Everyone is driving me crazy!” (Untrue)
In every instance the statement of reality is followed by some horrible thought about myself, other people or about life in general. This pattern turns a pretty common problem, like a ringing telephone into the end of the world.
What’s even worse is – it makes it feel like a personal defeat.
You can’t change the first part (reality) so why not work on the second part (the part you make up)? What would happen if you “tweak” the second half of the thought and add a statement of Gratitude? How different would that feel?
Let’s look at the first example above about losing money on a campaign (an all too real problem that happens from time to time). What happens when we take the thought that is based in reality and end it with a statement of Gratitude?
Part 1: “Oh my God I lost so much money on this campaign!”
Part 2: “But I’m thankful that I work for myself and not someone else.”
Woah. Huge difference right?
I’ve been doing this for a little while now and it completely changes the way I feel about my setbacks and failures.
Let’s look at the second statement:
Part 1: “WTF! I only got X number of comments on this blog post!”
Part 2: “But I’m glad that I hit my goal of two posts this week.”
And again with the phone:
Part 1: “My phone won’t stop ringing!”
Part 2: “But I’m glad I have people in my life that care and want to talk to me.”
Adding a simple statement of Gratitude to the end of a negative thought cancels out the bad thing completely. As you say the statement of Gratitude in your mind you can feel the negative thought disappear.
Gratitude: A Scientific Theory
At Cornell and the University of Michigan, scientists are investigating the far reaching effects of Gratitude practiced regularly, like exercise.
Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas did a well documented study using three groups of people:
“The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day… the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences, and the last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy.
Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the findings, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved.
McCollough and Emmons also noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude encourages another… McCullough suggests that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just from counting their blessings.”
Every Day Examples and How To Begin
Here are a few more examples of appending good thoughts to the end of bad ones to turn every day problems into moments of Gratitude.
Part 1: “I didn’t lose any weight this week!”
Part 2: “But I’m glad I’m learning how diet and fitness works”
Part 1: “Dammit my Grandpa died!”
Part 2: “But I’m glad we had such a good time together last summer.”
Part 1: “I haven’t made any money online yet!”
Part 2: “But I’m glad I’m learning to work for myself”
Perception Creates Reality
Adding a statement of Gratitude to the end of your negative thoughts about experiences in your life isn’t magic. It won’t change the fact that you didn’t lose weight or bring your Grandpa back to life.
What it does is change the way you feel about the situation and life in general. And as I’m learning more and more your perception creates your reality.
- If you perceive that your life is ruined because you didn’t lose weight this week, then your life will be ruined.
- If you feel good about continuing the learning process, weight loss or not, you’re going to feel good.
It’s up to you.
Take some time and think about it. What situation have you had recently that could be turned around by adding a statement of Gratitude to the end of it? Try it in your mind right now.
When you get done – let me know how it feels.