At this time of year when the leaves are mostly on the ground, the cold is setting in and we feel happy when the temperature reaches highs above 15°C, we all know what is coming. For Canadians, the month of October is marked by Thanksgiving celebrations and for many, it is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for.
I was reading an article lately and it really made me think about gratitude and the art of positive thinking. Some people start the day with a prayer of thanks, others end the day with one, but for many, we show an attitude of gratitude throughout the day whenever the inspiration grabs us. Please understand that gratitude has nothing to do with religion. Whether you are thanking God, the Universe or people around you, this includes you.
Now, let me show you a different twist to this attitude of gratitude. Have you ever started the day on the wrong foot? You know what I mean… you get up, step into a mess that the cat left for you during the night, get to the kitchen only to realize the fridge stopped working and the smell is starting to invade the house. You get into the shower and realize there is no soap, get into your car and get all the red lights on the way to work and finally arrive 15 minutes late! Sound familiar?
In my family, I am known for my ability to think positively and although I do practice this habitually, the article I read lately took it one step further as it had to do with being thankful for all the things that didn’t happen! Even with my positive attitude and my non-stop expression of gratitude, I had never thought of that! Let’s rerun the above scenario:
You get up and step into a mess that the cat left for you during the night and you are thankful that she is not seriously sick; get to the kitchen only to realize the fridge stopped working and the smell is starting to invade the house but you think how thankful you are that you weren’t gone on holidays when this happened because with only a few hours of outage, the food is still salvageable. You get into the shower and realize there is no soap but thankfully, you bought some recently when you did groceries so all you have to do is stretch to the vanity and grab a bar; get into your car and get all the red lights and think that with all that has happened this morning if you get into work a few minutes late, you are still doing well. You are thankful for the time to decompress at each red light before starting your day. If it weren’t for all these lights, you might drive too fast and increase your possibility of getting into a serious accident… Wow, what a difference!
More than just part of positive thinking, scientists’ research shows that “Downward Counterfactual Thinking” (psych talk for this way of thinking) has a real and prompt effect on our level of happiness. It can help improve your mood in the moment, so why couldn’t it help with long-term happiness, maybe even prepare us to deal with major challenges! “As a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology points out, small daily boosts of positive emotion improved life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms over time.”
Can you see how this can help you stay on track when trying to reduce the effects of stress on your eating habits? People report to me that their number one reason for eating off plan is stress! The biggest issue that people have is stress and not surprisingly, that is also the top thing that people seem to have the least solutions for! You can’t go on holidays every week; you can’t take time off work every time something stressful happens, but you can always think of how fortunate you are that it wasn’t worse! Try it for yourself and see how effective this is!
Have a very happy Thanksgiving!
Lise and the coaching staff at Food-Wise Weight Loss