Okay, so now please think of ALL the good things that happened to you today, and please include all the kind things people did to you, the nice words directed your way, both verbally and in writing. How long is your list?
There is so much kindness coming your way every single day, however you need to be open to it to notice! Our minds are experts at taking in all the negative stuff, all the things we perceive as bad criticism, corrections to what we have done and so on. The mind acts like teflon to all that negativity. So how do you change that? Well, a good start is to acknowledge all the good things coming your way, and taking them into your heart.
An example that you might have heard of before is when somebody is giving you feedback on a presentation at work, a class you taught, or an essay you wrote. The feedback contains several great things about how well you did, however also includes one thing you could improve on. What sticks from the feedback? Probably the thing you could improve on! This is very typical. The reason for this is that thousands of years ago, we had to know and remember the dangers around us in order to survive, and our brains haven’t changed much since that time, they are still naturally wired that way. But let’s be honest, a criticism in a feedback in this time and age does not really represent any kind of life-threatening danger… So we don’t need to make that the one main thing to remember!
About a year ago, I decided to do something about this and started making the extra effort of taking in the good things coming my way. Every night before going to sleep I would write down at least 10 good things that had happened to me that day. It could be anything. Someone had smiled at me passing me, someone had said something nice, I had noticed a beautiful tree/man (!), I had been lucky to see lots of birds flying over the sky, I had got a parking space right in front of the store I was going to, I had met someone I hadn’t expected to see, and so on. I wrote down everything. The list of 10 quickly grew longer and I set as a goal to fill out one whole page in my notebook every evening.
I had already heard about how keeping a gratefulness diary could have a good effect, but before doing it myself I hadn’t realised that it would actually work for me. Now I know! There are sooo many good things happening every single day! Go on, give it a try writing down your list. There is no need to force yourself to do it every single night. Perhaps just do it whenever you feel like it, however preferably at least 2-3 times a week. And in the process, notice how you are actively re-wiring your mind, and how you end up opening yourself, just by magic, to taking in more and more of the good things coming your way. Increasing your awareness is a powerful thing and will in the process bring more happiness into your life. There is so much kindness and beauty around you every single day, you simply have to open your eyes and take it in.
If you have time to write down your list right before going to bed, there is an additional positive outcome: you are consciously feeding your mind with good things, so while you are sleeping your mind can continue working on good thoughts instead of challenging ones. That’s a great incentive, isn’t it?!