Did you know that human brains are hard-wired to scout for trouble? Back in caveman days, or even the wild wild west, continuously scanning your surroundings for trouble was a useful way for us to be hard-wired, since danger and life-threatening situations loomed around every corner.
And when you’re in the middle of a divorce or separation, it’s natural to feel more pessimistic than optimistic. Let’s face it, even if ending the relationship is the right decision, it doesn’t make it an easy decision.
But now that we live in the [comparatively] safer 21st century, this negativity-seeking hard-wire insures that we emphasize the troubles and worries in our life, rather than focusing on the good things. And while there are always plenty of bad things that go on in the world, there are also abundant good things…..if we remember to slow down long enough to pay attention.
Yes, even if you’re getting divorced. There are still good things in your life even if your relationship is ending, even if they’re difficult to identify at the moment. Set your intentions to positive thoughts and they’ll serve as your beacon. http://bit.ly/craDvQ
Think I’m sounding a little airy-fairy here? This exercise is actually based on Stanford University’s Gratitude Study, directed by Dr. Frederic Luskin, Ph.D. (http://learningtoforgive.com/). The study found that people who focused on what they were thankful for just a minute or two a day had much more positive attitudes, and, as a result, a higher quality of life, than those who didn’t. And best of all, it’s simple, free, and it works.
You can make gratitude a habit by practicing it every day with this simple exercise http://bit.ly/8XK8PU:
Simply take a minute to make a mental list of everything you’re thankful for every single day. It might be something big: the chemotherapy worked, a promotion, your best friend’s new baby. It can also be small stuff: you find your car keys, your team makes it to the playoffs, your long lost friend finds you on Facebook.
Here’s my list from this morning:
- I love the way the light shines through the Venetian blinds in the morning
- I am so happy my rescue dog finally learned to “sit”
- I’ll have time to take a nap on Saturday
- I’m going to have a very productive week
- There’s leftover spaghetti so I don’t need to cook tonight
- I don’t have to answer to my spouse anymore about my choices with money or how I spend my time
This list might sound a little silly. But I really am thankful for these things. And the point is to make a list, no matter how insignificant any given item is. The exercise is about making a list, not about the items on the list.
Be thankful for all things, from important to mundane.
Go over your list during a quiet time of day or night for you. Maybe during those few minutes between the time you wake up and when you actually have to get up, in the middle of the night when you wake up and can’t get back to sleep, or simply pausing during the day.
When you’re feeling gratitude, you’ll literally have a better day than if you let your negativity hard-wire be in charge all the time. And if you’re feeling down, watch the Gratidudes do their Gratitude Dance (or better yet, join in!)
Diana Mercer Bio:
Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post
Diana Mercer is an Attorney-Mediator and the founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, www.peace-talks.com. She is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Penguin/Perigee 2010) and Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce (Simon & Schuster/Fireside 2001) and writes for the Huffington Post as well as her own blog Making Divorce Work.