I want to share a big key to navigating the hard stuff.
First, let’s talk briefly about what this “hard stuff” is.
Anything that causes stress is hard stuff.
Stress is mental, physical, emotional or spiritual strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Can you think of any areas of life where you have some hard stuff causing stress?
Stress is a normal part of life. At times, stress even serves a useful purpose. Stress can motivate you to change your diet, refinance your house, improve a relationship or score the winning soccer goal. However, when stress is not managed well in crisis or long-term, it can seriously interfere with your health, your wealth and your relationships.
More than 50% of Americans say they argue with friends and loved ones because of stress, and more than 70% say they experience real physical and emotional symptoms from it.
When you are “stressed”, your body launches a physical response. The stress response is living in our nervous system and our body starts releasing hormones that prepare you for actions to either fight or retreat. This "fight or flight" response kicks in when you're in a stressful situation. You may notice that your heartbeat speeds up, your breathing gets faster, your muscles tense, and you start to sweat. This kind of stress is like fireworks going off in your body and it’s fairly short-term and temporary (acute stress). Your body usually recovers fairly quickly from it.
But if your stress system stays activated over a long period of time (chronic stress), it can lead to or aggravate more serious health problems. Living in a state of “danger, danger, danger” is exhausting! The constant rush of stress hormones can put a lot of wear and tear on your body, causing it to age more quickly and making it more prone to mental and physical illnesses.
So, what do you do about managing this stress during the “hard stuff” for the best possible results?
Unlocking new results always start with our thoughts:
thoughts => feelings => emotions => actions => results => life experiences
Did you know that we actually cannot have a positive and negative thought at the same time?
- Is it hard for you to see the proverbial glass half full?
- Do your daily conversations revolve around what’s wrong in the world?
- Do you think about surviving or thriving in this wonderful world that we live in?
- Can you live in appreciation of the moment for all that is good right now?
- Do you live in fear of the future?
- Does negative thought pop up first most often?
We have to find ways to shift the thoughts that aren’t getting us the results we want.
GRATITUDE is the big key we are talking about today for shifting our thoughts and navigating the hard stuff better.
Let’s get a little more technical…
Gratitude is a skill that can be learned and practiced to bring more positive thoughts into your life. When you change to more positive thoughts, you actually change your brain chemistry and respond better in times of stress.
Negative thoughts that come in stressful circumstances trigger our active nervous system (fast acting). Our body floods with cortisol and activates all kinds of negative emotions. Negative emotions don’t last as long as positive ones but they do trigger our “fight or flight” actions. These actions can be less than helpful to move toward our desired results.
Gratitude counters the negative thoughts with positive thoughts.
Shifting to positive thoughts acts as a natural antidepressant. Neuroscience research has linked positive thoughts to activating the neurotransmitters which promote feelings of contentment and peace (slow acting). The endocrine system gets fired up when you induce positive emotions. The endocrine systems trigger the positive hormones dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin that are our “happy chemicals”. Positive thoughts slowly buildup a reserve of feel good hormones that become a shield of resiliency in times of stress and navigating “hard things”.
That’s about as technical as I get :) Basically, this means that focusing our attention on things we are grateful for forces a shift to the positive. When we focus our thoughts on the positive and good, we feel good emotions, which then creates our actions. When we feel “good” we are more empowered to engage in the activities we need to get the positive results and life experiences we want.
Have I convinced you that more gratitude leads to positive emotions and will help you better navigate the hard stuff and get the best results?
Can you write down 10 things that you are grateful for right now? I am always amazed how challenging this can be with many of my clients.
We are fighting negative bias in the way we are wired. It’s human nature. But the good news is that gratitude is truly plentiful. Gratitude brings positive, happy thoughts and emotions. People like to be around happy people. 😊
For anything that we chose to be grateful for, there are 3 mini steps to fully experience gratitude:
- Recognize specifically what we are grateful for
- Acknowledge who or what we are grateful to
- Appreciate fully the value it is to us and let it really sink in
I want to give you some specifics on how to incorporate gratitude practices in your life. Like any skill, gratitude does need to become a practice to build effectiveness. Let’s look at 5 approaches and practical ways to practice gratitude.
1) Notice and reflect: take time daily to intentionally record what you are grateful for in a journal
- Try to identify 3 things every day to journal about
- Get really specific about what and why you are grateful. The more you drill down to what you are actually connecting to, you will have a bigger positive neurological connection.
- Try to journal in the morning before your conscious brain fully wakes up. This sets the tone and intention and sense of well-being for the day.
- Gratitude builds social connection and a sense of oneness that we are not alone. It is a great human need and the best gift we can give and receive.
- Say thank you with specifics, often.
- Find inter-generational relationships to appreciate
3. Bust out of a bad mood with self coaching
- Take a literal 5 minute break when you feel something stress or negative come up. Breathe deep. Recite gratitude’s to yourself.
- Remember what you have overcome and be thankful for overcoming and where you are now.
- Keep a “replace it” notebook: literally write the negative thought and the gratitude you you will replace it with
- Comparison: STOP and remind yourself of all that you have and all that you are that is good
4. Make a proactive commitment to positive reminders
- Find inspiration: find quotes and be intentional about who you follow
- Keep it front and center: put up affirmations and sticky notes of gratitude
- Practice mindfulness: Find gratitude in the current moment to block the future fears and past regrets. Drop out of your head and feel with your senses.
5. Share gratitude with projects for set periods of time:
- Make a 2:1 Grattitude box: for every 1 complaint, add 2 thankful notes
- Bulletin board: Put up some poster board and encourage your office or family to write out or draw their gratitudes
- Social media: Post intentionally for a set period of time
Positive thoughts unlock feeling of being more alive, compassion, better immune system, etc. Gratitude brings about positive thoughts for unlocking YOUR best life!
On today's #tuesdaywithtammy. I talk more about how this works. I go through more specifics on how to incorporate gratitude practices in your life. Like any skill, gratitude does need to become a practice to build effectiveness.
You can watch the FULL 30 minute video teaching by visiting our Unlocking YOUR Best Life facebook page
The video is titled A big key to navigating "the hard stuff 10/29/19
I hope you take some time to practice gratitude so that you are better prepared for "the hard stuff" as you are intentionally unlocking YOUR best self and YOUR best life. You are worth it!
I hope to see you soon.
Always with hugs, Tammy
JOIN ME every week for our FB LIVE chat on #tuesdaywithtammy at 12:00 noon cst on our Unlocking YOUR Best Life facebook page