Life Has to Change

Pretty obvious eh? Our lives have already in few short weeks changed dramatically. Following on from yesterday’s blog we are in a better head and heart space having accepted ‘our lot.’ 

Like Pavlov’s dog we practice social distancing, our hands are hopefully and constantly hot-water-soaped lickety-split clean and we are staying home. And as we settle into our lockdown we have time to reflect on life.

Like I did half a century ago, you may determine there are changes you need to make to live a more productive and happier lifestyle. Or simply, living with your foot off the pedal, go with the flow and allow things to happen organically.

This COVID 19 event has set the world asunder. No one can forecast what the future holds. Hopefully the world will rebel against the pace of life and greed that was ours over the past few decades. Employers may find that people working from home are more efficient, happier and healthier. We may find ‘looking out,’ for each other is a preferable way to live. Even come to the conclusion that less is the new more. 

One of the main drivers for me in changing my life was ‘finding the silver lining’ in a situation. It was difficult at first as my circumstances were pretty wretched and the nubs of thankfulness had to be dug out past anger and powerlessness. But it became a habit over time. 

In today’s lingo it is ‘the practice of gratitude.’ 

Robert Emmons is the professor of psychology at UC Davis, University of California and for over a decade, he has been contributing to the scientific literature on the study of gratitude and well-being. His studies show ‘the practice of gratitude’ improves physical and psychological health, and it allows people to form stronger relationships and become more resilient. 

The practice of gratitude I found kept me in the moment. I did not make, and have never made a list of things I was grateful about. As the habit grew it was more about appreciating the little moments in daily life that bring contentment or delight Maybe it was watching my children play, maybe a scudding cloud in a blue sky or a new shoot on a plant in the garden.

I enjoyed these smiley moments so much that I focused on encouraging the moments of pleasure to blossom to stretch in my mind. 

My mind of course was releasing endorphins, happy chappy hormones – not that I knew that at that time – practicing mindfulness or indeed living consciously was not yet in the dictionary.

Yes I know your life needs planning, priortising and setting goals or targets but now with our enforced isolation isn’t it an opportunity to live as mindfully as possible, that is deliberately being aware of the little good moments that life gives us? The practice of gratitude take us immediately into the present moment. In the present moment there is no looking over our shoulder no worrying about the future, just simply the now. 

Eckhart Toll, the spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now said ‘The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment. You create a good future by creating a good present. ‘

Eckhart Tolle

Tomorrow – Not Buying into the Fear

Great-fully-Grateful

gratitudeIn my book A Journey of Creative Healing, I write that half a century ago my Aunty G’ advised me to ‘always seek the silver lining in any situation.’
Finding the silver lining is one of the six steps that enabled me to return to full health. Today we know it as a practice of gratitude.
Back in the early 1960’s, the double wammy of grief and illness – death of my husband and the diagnosis of an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis — made it unbelievably hard to be grateful. I was numb, I felt like I was in a dark cave, people’s voices came from afar and even the most effective circuit breaker like a smile or chuckle from my children did not reach me.

 Grief is a Process

 But now I see that those fearful dark days did have the nub of silver within. The long months of emotional hibernation had to happen to enable me to process the enormity of trauma and loss. The loss of my champion: our life together as I knew it, and as my sickness gripped harder, the dependence on others for my life.
The biblical metaphor of ‘death’s dark valley,’ fits the lonely dark space that had to be traversed, so change could occur.
As I emerged onto the gentler slopes of acceptance I started to appreciate the smallest things in life. I remember one morning hearing the birds sing, it had been long since I had heard their melodic call. As I listened and delighted in the bird’s song, I became aware of the blue-blueness of the sky. Life was no longer grey.

Determined Practice of Gratitude

Gratitude became a determined practice. I looked for it constantly. I pushed past other emotions like anger and confusion to find it. It became easier and easier to identify and expand that feeling of joy. And becoming more grateful with every passing day, I lost sight of things I lacked.
Scientific studies show how the practice of gratitude improves physical and psychological health, and it allows people to form stronger relationships and become more resilient.
I still practice gratitude today. But I do not say out loud ‘I am grateful for…..’ I do not keep a journal, or lie in bed at night and push myself to list three things that day that gave me a sense of gratitude. It is more a habit of awareness, being present in the pleasure and stretching the feeling so the warmth floods through my body.

I love ………

I love sun-kissed clean sheets on my bed, a garden tended with passion and dedication, a slow dance with my husband and singing loudly, a little off-key, in the shower – ‘I am still standing ……Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid, I’m still standing after all this time ……… ‘

Come on share with me,  what makes you grateful?