October 9, 2016

How to Flip your Mood when you Wake Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed: 5 Steps.

Seth Doyle/Unsplash

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to be negative, yet how difficult it is to be optimistic? I certainly have.

Just this morning as I was getting ready for my day, my brain was running in a negative loop. It felt like two people trying to get through a turnstile at the same time—everything had a negative vibe.

First, my alarm didn’t go off, then the shower was taking its own-sweet-time warming up. If that wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t find my contact solution and then I had to walk all the way down the hall to get a clean towel. I guess I woke up on the wrong side of the bed because I had a really difficult time overcoming negativity.

Experience has taught me that when I’m in a state of negativity, gratitude often breaks the cycle. In fact, I find it impossible for my brain to hold on to negative thoughts while at the same time practicing gratitude.

Unfortunately, gratitude doesn’t come naturally. This can be the case particularly when we’re going through a rough time. Like everything else, we have to practice gratitude to get good at it.

Years ago someone showed me the “gratitude hand.” It’s a powerful little tool that I often use both personally and professionally to help develop a state of gratitude.

First off, take a look at your hand.

Now look at the pinky. The pinky reminds us to take a moment to be grateful for something small, something that you may usually take for granted. Do you have socks? How nice is it that you have socksDid your car startup today? Do you have clean water? Is the room you are in warm? Did you eat today? There are many places in the world where people don’t have their basic needs met. I can be thankful that I don’t have a broken leg because if I had a broken leg, I would wish I didn’t have one. When we take the time to look at our pinky, we can remind ourselves of little blessings.

Notice your ring finger. This finger is the traditional bearer of a wedding ring, so we use this finger to remind us to be grateful for our relationships. Good relationships are the most important factors in our mental wellbeing. The better our relationships, the better we feel about life in general. Take a moment and think about the people in your life. Who in your life are you thankful for? A neighbor? A teacher? Are you grateful for your partner? I know I’m often thankful for my wife and kids. Are you grateful for your parents? Think, for just a moment, about someone you love or who loves you and imagine them in your mind. Got them? Now, what is it about that person you appreciate? Take a moment and feel gratitude for this person.

Now the middle finger. This finger is traditionally used to flip someone the bird. But this time, we use this finger to remind us to do the opposite—give a compliment. When we are critical, we lower our self-esteem. However, when we compliment someone, we not only raise their self-esteem, we raise our own too. Who do you know that deserves a compliment? Maybe you can let your child know you are proud of them, or you might compliment a co-worker on their help or the job that they are doing? Visualize this person and take a moment to think about what they do well and make it a point to remember to give them this compliment.

Next is the pointer finger. What this finger reminds us is that beauty is all around us. Is there a painting on a wall? When was the last time you looked at it and thoughtfully noticed it? Can you appreciate the work and talent that went into its creation? Maybe you see a plant or flower. Enjoy for a moment its beauty. Perhaps you see something as mundane as a light fixture. Take a moment to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into building something both useful and beautiful. Look around you. Find something of beauty and point to it. As the Chinese philosopher, Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Finally the thumb. This might be the most challenging of all gratitude practices—give a thumbs-up to yourself. What is one thing you are good at doing? Maybe you’re a good guitar player, or you have a lovely singing voice. Appreciate your talents! Do you find yourself resisting this practice even as you read it? Perhaps you’ve said something in the past like “I’m my worse critic.” It’s time to stop that. I like to think I have a talent for writing, and I appreciate the opportunity it gives me to speak to you even now. Everyone has talents, we just forget to enjoy them.

Practicing gratitude is an excellent way to start learning how to beat negativity. When I’m in a negative emotional state, I am suffering, but when I am grateful I am full of love. Transforming suffering into gratitude is a sacred act of the heart. Eckart Tolle said it well “It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.”

I believe that if you will take the time, pause, and appreciate all things with gratitude of heart, you find negativity stays at bay—even if you happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed.


Author: Chuck Chapman

Image: Seth Doyle/Unsplash

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

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