How often do you come home from a long day and vent about what didn’t go well? How often do you talk about the family member who has been a thorn in your side, as opposed to the quiet but kind deed your significant other did? When you get together with friends how often does the conversation shift to your problems and pet peeves, rather than your joys and daily pleasures?
This constant focus on what’s wrong or what didn’t go well drags down our mood and skews our perception of reality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging that we ignore our problems, pretend everything is perfect, and go live among the unicorns and rainbows. Acknowledging pain and discomfort is an important part of emotional health. What I am encouraging, however, is a more intentional approach to what we talk about and where we direct our attention.
When a friend asks, “How was your weekend,” what if you intentionally named the three best parts of your weekend first, rather than what you didn’t get done? When your partner asks about your day, what if you focused on small joys, rather than the catastrophe that was getting the kids off to school or spilling your coffee all over the car? After a meeting, what if you and your coworkers spoke mostly about what you appreciated about the meeting, rather than what annoyed you?
By choosing to direct our attention to the goodness in our lives, we shift the balance and change the score. We become more grateful and joy-filled, training our brains to do this more naturally.
So here’s my challenge to you. At the end of a tough morning with the kids, focus on what you’re grateful for. At the end of a long week, make a point to list the things you totally rocked out. When you get together with friends, highlight what you’re appreciating right now. When you survey your house, office, or yard, take time to notice what you love about the space and opportunities its gives you. Think of how this could boost your mood!
We can’t always choose what we’re dealt, but we can totally choose where we focus our attention.
PS: If you liked this post, I think you’d LOVE this video!