“Some people could be given an entire field of roses and only see the thorns in it. Other people might only see one type of weed. It is essential to have a sense of perception. And gratitude a key component to joy.” ~Amy Weatherly
My upbringing was very negative. My mother and father divorced when I was seven. It was a terrible example of how to avoid divorcing.
Their worst traits brought out each other. Unfortunately, I was also affected by them. I was depressed as a teen, and had been conditioned to believe that my problems were an unfortunate family trait—one that I had simply to accept and live with.
For many years, I was happy. However, it wasn’t my happy place. And yet I didn’t know enough about the world to understand that my environment and upbringing were very largely to blame.
It is possible for genetics to account up to 40% of happiness. However, we can control the rest.
I’m aware of this because studies have shown it to be the case. However, I Know it because I’ve also lived it.
Deciding to Make a Difference in my Life
Over the last ten years, I’ve dramatically changed my life, and I’m the most at peace I’ve ever been.
As a mother to my oldest daughter, there was an important reason for me to desire better. My goal was to raise my daughter in a happy and loving environment. To make that happen, I needed to work hard.
Plus, it had become especially vital at that time since my daughter’s difficult delivery had been traumatic and left me with extreme postnatal anxiety. It was a difficult place for me and I had to escape it. I also needed to be able to see clearly in my head. And I didn’t want to rely on medication for that.
While my husband had already saved me in many ways, the rest was my responsibility—mystate of mind my outlook.
I started an activity out of desperation, but it changed my entire life.
While I appreciate that sounds like an exaggeration, it’s really not. Because it’s my real life. It has changed. Although it also hasn’t. Allow me to explain…
Reframing has the power to change your mind
I inadvertently learned how to reframe, and it’s possibly the most profound skill there is for increasing happiness.
It’s so incredibly powerful because it can change your experience of life—WithoutChange your circumstances.
Here are a few examples of how reframing helped me to feel more positive about my own life…
My dad had recently moved and I was planning to go to his house with my daughters during half-term to buy him a plant.
We live in the UK, and while the weather is changeable, it’s usually fairly mild. However, it was extremely windy on that particular day. I told my dad we’d make our way and I’d let him know if we couldn’t get there.
We did it! And after dropping off my dad’s plant, we drove a short way to a restaurant.
Before we’d even ordered drinks, the winds brought down a pylon and there was a power cut. My daughters were too young to eat in the kitchen, so they ate chips for lunch. I had to drive us home.
We didn’t become mad at the fact that our entire day was a shambles (we ran into fallen trees along the road home),), I was glad I’d made the effort. My dad was proud that my daughter and I were safe. It also reinforced his belief in our ability to persevere despite all the obstacles.
Another example is that since Christmas we’ve had one illness after another in our home. First was COVID, and since then we’ve had viruses and two bouts of chicken pox.
When my eldest succumbed to COVID, I was worried about her, but also on a practical level how I’d get my youngest daughter to school (until my husband also tested positive, at which point I was able to leave the house). It was a fear that we had felt for over two years, but it could have been a huge source of stress.
But during the COVID episode—and later with chicken pox too—school mums stepped up without me even asking. I’d never really felt like I’d integrated with the school mum crowd, but as it turned out, I was wrong:
I was completely supported by them.
It was a feeling that I feel and still feel extraordinarily grateful for. TheyI also know that I have an incredible support system, something I didn’t even know existed.
These are just a couple of recent examples which spring to mind, of situations that previously I probably would have experienced negatively and complained about—but I’m now able to reframe to find the silver living.
So you see, my life is different in terms of how I experience the world, and yet it’s really the very same as it always was. Yet, I Please feelThey are vastly different.
I feel at peace.
And now I want to share my process so others can also learn how to do this for themselves, because it’s basically free therapy, available to everyone, that we can implement alone, and without guidance.
But how did I do it, without professional help—and without medication?
The Benefits of Reframing: How can you tap into them?
There were three main steps in my path, and they all worked together perfectly.
1. Practice gratitude
First, I began writing gratitude lists.
With no comprehension of their value—but with a deep desire to start appreciating the good things in my life, and a desperate hope it was a good starting point. It was good There is enoughTo help me be better for my daughter
Each week, I began to write down the good things that happened. Not realizing that this is actually an effective therapeutic exercise, I wasn’t expecting very much to happen.
However, I was certain that I desired more positivity in my life. So I figured the “fake it till you make it” approach might just be beneficial.
Incredibly, it didn’t just help—it was the turning point of my life to such a degree that it now feels like Before After.
Writing gratitude lists isn’t difficult. It can be as simple as jotting down three, or five, or ten things you’re thankful for. You can do this when you get up in the morning to kick off your day. Or at the end.
If you have a hectic schedule and can’t find time to do this daily, just be sure to do it Keep checking back regularly.
You could also try writing your list in a private manner, if you feel it is too hard.
It Doesn’t need to a formal practice; it just needs to something you do practice. Because over time, something magical happens…
Your default outlook will change as you acknowledge all the positive things in your life and over time.
It was a kind of spiritual awakening for me. I love to share my experiences with analogies.
Most people are familiar with the idea of rose-tinted sunglasses. But sometimes they’re actually a blessing. After spending several months practicing gratitude regularly, I felt like I’d removed the only pair of glasses I’d ever known, and the world suddenly looked brighter.
Also, I realized that optimism is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you search for it the more likely you are to find it.
People reflect your mood back on you. Negativity can drain you, but positive people are a great source of energy for those around them.
Recently, I waxed lyrical about gratitude and reframing to someone. But they insist that sometimes it is best to offload onto friends or relatives. I didn’t CompletelyAlthough I disagree, there is something that I can add to the discussion:
Positive thinking leads to increased happiness by default. DeAn increase in negative experience, which results in less frequent feeling positive. You are requiredYou can offload. Also that’sThe magic behind this entire concept.
There’s one final step in my toolkit…
Unfortunately, when you’ve grown up in a negative environment, it can be all too easy to slide back into ingrained behaviors—old habits die hard.
For that reason, even though I feel very mentally robust these days, I know that if I stop practicing these new skills, it’s almost inevitable that I’ll return to the mindset I developed as a child. (I’ve learned this the hard way.)
My favorite method to keep track of my goals and be accountable is journaling. It can incorporate all the ideas above plus many others.
It all depends on how I feel, but journaling is a wonderful way for me to be mindful, in flow or just as an outlet. All of it!
They all feed off and strengthen each other. They can be life-changing when combined.
Kate Tunstall is editor of Refined Prose, a bullet journaling site and personal development blog. Kate’s website is where she shares her love for journaling, and positive psychology in general that supports mental well-being and mental health. She also shares her experiences with cow’s milk protein allergy, supporting other mums breastfeeding through allergies. Kate also writes about the science-backed elements of manifesting, such as manifestation affirmations, on her second website, Manifesting & Human Design.
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Tiny Buddha published The Power of Reframing: Three Ways to Feel Happier About Life.