Embrace the Positive in Life

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, November 14, 2018
By Nicole Herdocia-Oria , RMFTI, MS
Why is it so much easier to look at the bad stuff than it is to see the good stuff? Even when everything is going well in our lives we tend to focus on the negative instead of embracing the positive. It’s always easy to find something to criticize or complain about. This directly affects our stress levels. It should be no surprise that people who make it a point to focus on being grateful everyday lead more fulfilled and happy lives.

Take time to slow down and appreciate life’s gifts. In other words, taking in our surroundings will allow us to stay present and not miss out on what’s right in front of us here and now. This will help us become less dismissive of the wonderful things around us and can redirect our focus away from what’s “wrong”. Being fully present is one of the hardest things to cultivate because we’re constantly on the go with endless check off lists and worries. Making it a point to notice our surroundings like the music playing in the car radio even though we’re in traffic or how comfortable our office chair really is. This will help pave the way to being more appreciative of the small stuff which we’ll touch on more later.

Gratitude is an art form that should be put into daily practice to master it and achieve emotional contentment. According to recent studies, gratitude has been scientifically proven to strengthen our immune system and make you happier and more optimistic. Stress directly affects us physiologically meaning that being emotionally content provides a balance which directly and positively affects our mood and general demeanor.

One study at the HeartMath Institute correlated positive thinking to improved heart functioning. Heart beats were found to be smoother, more consistent vs more inconsistent heartbeats from an individual focused on negative aspects. The functioning of this vital organ is directly connected to our thought patterns. What better way to improve our wellbeing than by appreciating our surroundings.

At times, it can be difficult to detect what to be grateful for when our minds are cluttered with worries and fears. I find the easiest way to start is by being mindful of the simplest aspects of our lives we normally take for granted daily. There is nothing too small to be grateful for. Gratitude doesn’t have to be used sparingly or be saved up for life’s big things. For example, I bet most of us don’t appreciate the fact that when we wake up in the morning, we are waking up in a warm bed. That alone is something to be grateful for! Appreciating everything starting with the small stuff helps nourish the habit of being grateful.

Say thank you! Showing appreciation out loud really helps you feel grateful as well as make the people that surround you feel appreciated. It will most likely be reflected giving you more material to feel grateful for.
You know what’s beautiful, all around us and free? Nature! Take time to appreciate the nature that is all around you. Whether it’s taking a walk in a park, sitting on a bench to watch the trees dance in the breeze, or going to the beach. Commit to allowing for time to show nature some love. Nature is so rich in beauty and magic. Get some quality time with Mother Nature! She’s so fine 🙂

Practicing mindfulness about being grateful can be an easy, uplifting nightly task. Check in with yourself every night to reflect on your day. Our lives can be hectic. It’s important to take some time to pause and think about how different parts of the day affected us. Most likely, by pausing and reflecting on the day, you’ll run into those small things that cause us joy. Giving ourselves a chance to be grateful for them will help take us one step closer to achieving the emotional contentment we talked about earlier. The trick is to train your brain to be naturally more grateful by sitting with that feeling of gratefulness during your nightly reflection. This practice will improve our thought patterns, leading to more appreciation of our day-to-day activities, and thus more happiness. Don’t forget to highlight aspects of your own strengths you’re grateful for too!

It can be so easy to allow ourselves to get swept up in the day to day fast pace and forget to “smell the roses” and appreciate all the wonderfulness that surrounds us. We only have the one life. Slow down and be grateful for what you do have. There’s so much magic to be grateful for.