The past few months I have fancied myself a bit of a scientist conducting a personal little experiment. The fact was, it couldn’t hurt to try anything at this point. After a chaotic year or two, I found myself in a dark place with light just barely creeping in. When you are surrounded by darkness, it is a natural instinct to adapt your eye sight, to live there, which for me meant to dwell on all that was troubling me. And I craved the light, I was willing to do anything I could for a glimpse.
I began to climb my way out of the darkness little by little and one of the tools that aided the process for me was one I had been told my whole life but had never really heard until I needed it most. The concept was simple yet the practice was harder than I imagined and its results far greater and deeper than anticipated. I finally embraced the advice my parents gave me as I headed off to school each morning as a child, a change to “start each day with a grateful heart.”
This challenged me to begin every day without jumping right into the chaos that ensues when focusing on all that is wrong in the world because, after all, there are oh so many things to obsess over. Instead, I would begin my days by setting my mind on the things that brought me joy no matter how trivial they may sound- a warm cozy bed for example. If I was journaling I would list out rapid fire happy thoughts of things that I was grateful for. If I was praying, I would verbally give thanks for those things and if I was practicing yoga or walking my pup, I would set my mind on that very same gratitude. This morning practice slowly crept its way into my other times and has been truly transformative. I have noticed less anxiety, a clearer mind, and a more peaceful life.
Now let me clarify, my life is not wholly different in the finite ways one might observe. The circumstances are much the same but with a mind that is set on gratitude, I have found a way to enjoy peace in the midst of a storm. I now try to involve this practice in those darkest moments when my breath shallows and my head starts swarming like a bee hive with the negative energies. Yes that still happens, except now I remember the silky luster of the honey those bees make and that somehow quiets the buzzing.
This doesn’t make all the bad things go away but rather sheds light on the larger picture because it is all too easy to get caught in the trap of a negative thought cycle and stay there.
This isn’t a solution to all of life problems but rather a method that has helped me cope with the chaos by simply acknowledging that there is good eve in the moments where that is the hardest thing in the world to do. This doesn’t make all the bad things go away but rather sheds light on the larger picture because it is all too easy to get caught in the trap of a negative thought cycle zoned in on the dark edges of the image and miss the vibrant colors inside.