“Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity”. This beautiful quote by Sarah Young makes me think of all of the families I hold near to my heart this season. I know there are many experiencing adversity in their relationships with one another. The holidays pose extra pressure on these relationships because of the expectation of all of the family gatherings and feasting that take place from Thanksgiving throughout the new year. We begin to dread these gatherings if we have unresolved conflict with family members.
We think we need to run, avoid, or even self medicate in order to deal with the pressures these face to face meetings bring.
And yet, we simply don’t realize how much we contribute to adversity by our very own negative thoughts.
I want to challenge you, this holiday season, to choose to remember the good, not the bad. In Rick Hanson’s brilliant book Hardwiring Happiness, we learn that the more we study the brain, the more we are learning that we are hardwired to remember the bad, based on our evolutionary need to survive. We know now, anthropologists tell us, that in remembering the bad, we think we are avoiding physical death — when truthfully, the opposite effect is taking place. Our tendency to dwell on the negative has evolved into a slow death to soul. *
So here’s my ONE holiday tip this year:
Instead of allowing your mind to revisit the adversity, the fight you had last Christmas, the negative comment he made that you just can’t let go of–instead of ruminating once again on the negative thoughts that are creating depression, anger or relational destruction, tell yourself this:
You (thought) are no longer serving me. I won’t allow you to control me anymore.
Practice gratitude. Often. As much as possible: think of something you are grateful for. Look to apprehend the next positive moment in your life. Whether it comes through a hug from a child, a pleasant feeling that washes over you as you listen to your favorite tunes, or the delight that comes from watching the sunlight dance between the leaves of a tree. Take it in, be present. Sense and feel your gratitude in this moment.
And begin hardwiring your brain towards gratitude. Toward happiness.
Choose to face your new reality: Your old survival techniques aren’t working for you anymore. Choose life, light, and love this season. As you practice gratitude, notice how different it feels. Notice how your moods lighten…and let me know if there is reconciliation brewing.
I want to know.