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With everything that’s happened in the last year or so – goodness, has it really been that long?!? – it’s not surprising that many people are struggling, despite a little light finally appearing at the end of a rather long tunnel. Are finding themselves in a pit of “doom, gloom and despondency” without even realising it. 
 
From personal experience, not to mention many conversations with Clients, friends and family over the years, we know just how difficult it can be to start turning things around. To feel more in control of our lives. Let alone experiencing those elusive feelings of contentment or happiness. 
 
Regardless of how dire things may seem – and this may sound completely counter intuitive – realising that we’re in the pit of “doom, gloom and despondency” is good news. And, yes, we know this may sound like a rather strange thing to say. It may even have you wanting to throttle us for suggesting such a thing but, please, bear with us. It’ll all make sense in a minute. Yes, it will! 
 
 
If you stop and think about it for a moment, until we realise exactly where we are – the point we’re starting from – there’s absolutely nothing we can really do about it. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s something we consider “good” or “bad.” 
 
It’s rather like getting lost in the car without GPS, a phone or an old fashioned road map. How on earth can we take the necessary steps to start heading in the right direction if we don’t know where we’re starting from? The simple answer is we can’t. It’ll just be down to luck and, probably, involve a lot of time going round in circles, if not in completely the wrong direction! 
 
So, while the Little Monster in our heads may be busy telling us that, taking a few moments to realise exactly where we are is a “bad thing”, the complete opposite is true. If it makes it less scary, think of it as fact finding, rather than using it as an opportunity to beat ourselves up and feel worse than we already do… 
 
Now we’ve done the really scary bit, it’s simply a case of turning our focus back to where we want to go. And that means getting back in touch with our natural tendency to be happy. After all, everything in life is so much easier and simpler if we’re happy… 
 
Again, we know this may sound like rather a tall order, if not completely unattainable. However, if you just spend some time with very young children, you’ll quickly see that happiness is our natural state. Our default setting. Yet, somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost touch with it. By the time we’re “grown up”, it’s become such a distant memory that anyone who seems to be genuinely happy and content appears “a bit odd.” 
 
So how do we get back in touch with our natural state of being happy? Well, there’s a very quick and simple way to do this which, again, may sound completely counter intuitive. It’s to stop and think about everything, however small, we’re grateful or happy about RIGHT NOW. 
 
Now we know what you’re thinking. Yes, we do! We’ve heard the same response so many times we can feel it coming. It goes along the lines of how on earth can I be happy with x, y and z going on? Not to mention all the things I don’t have – and can’t see any chance of ever having… 
 
But this is completely missing the point. 
 
Regardless of what’s going on right now AND all the things that aren’t as we’d like – or don’t have – there are ALWAYS lots of things we can be grateful for. We just have to look for them. 
 
Added to this, there’s a very cunning little trick the Little Monster in our heads plays on us, which is all too easy to fall foul of. And that’s to “tune out” the things and people we already have in our lives. Or are always there. The “known knowns,” to use part of one of Donald Rumsfeld’s now infamous quotes. 
 
On one hand, it’s an important survival strategy, allowing us to focus on anything that’s “different” and so potential threats. However, on the other, it means we effectively become blind to much of what’s currently in our lives. The good things, people or situations we already enjoy. 
 
And to help the process along, here are two simple tips. The first is to start small, as there are always plenty of small things to be grateful for. Happy about. The hot shower. A cup of your favourite beverage. Your four legged friend greeting you as you came downstairs this morning. A favourite song on the radio. Sunshine through your window. You get the idea. 
 
And, while we’re talking about all those small things, how about the ones it’s all too easy to forget about? “Pleases” and “thank you’s.” A smile, wave or pat on the shoulder. A quick phone call or thank you note. Little things really do make a difference, to you and the lucky recipient. 
 
Which takes us on to the second simple way to help speed things along. Again, it concerns the Little Monster in your head and their ability to convince us that, by being grateful for what we have now, we’re somehow limiting ourselves to this and nothing better. Again, the exact opposite is true. If you’re not grateful for what you have now, how on earth can you expect anything better? Just think about what it’s like being on the receiving end of a very ungrateful recipient of some largesse, whether large or small… 
 
Perhaps you don’t have the home of your dreams yet, but your current home does keep you warm and dry, has good neighbours and is close to where you work. 
 
Or your job may not be exactly what you want but it does give you a reasonable income, is convenient and you have great colleagues. You get the idea. 
 
Oh, and here’s one we usually overlook. That we woke up this morning. Yes, we really did say that! Even better that, all those we care about, did too… And if that doesn’t make you stop and think about everything you have to be grateful for, nothing will… 
 
Pausing to think about everything we already have and are grateful for puts things into perspective. Those small annoyances somehow don’t seem so important any more. We feel calmer and happier. More positive about ourselves and the world around us. 
 
Gratitude also makes us more resilient when things don’t quite go to plan and we’ve certainly experienced plenty of that in the last year. When life throws a spanner – or a whole toolbox (!) – in the works. 
 
If you’re still unconvinced – or it sounds like far too much work – just ask yourself which approach helps ease our path through life more. Stomping round like a bear with a sore head when things don’t go exactly as we’d like OR choosing to be grateful for all the other things that ARE going well? 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
 
Photograph by unknown autho
 
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