Is your glass half-empty or half-full? Many psychologists believe that your answer to this question depends on what you regularly focus on. If you routinely focus on negative things and complain about them then, no surprises here, you will be a grouch. And you will never run out of things to complain about. It is like driving through life and all of your attention is focused on the dead flies and smears on your windscreen. You miss out on the scenery.
How often do you experience a real sense of gratitude? This can be either having a sense of being grateful for just being alive or being thankful to others around you for what they bring to your life.
The last ten years have seen a host of research studies looking at the benefits of gratitude. People trained to cultivate gratitude appear to deal with stress better, have more sleep and improved physical and mental health. Cultivating gratitude might sound ‘cheesy’ but it is pretty strong medicine.
Like our lives in general, Christmas has dramatically changed over the years. The great majority of us have lives that centuries ago would have been on a par with royalty! On a material level we have an abundance of food, warmth, clothes, electronics, and so on. Does this make us happier? Unfortunately, our expectations of what we should have has also risen and this can undermine our enjoyment of life. Some psychologists have described this as the ‘abundance paradox’.
The brain is a truly wonderful organ. However, sometimes it can over-do things. Due to the need to survive it can be a little over-zealous in predicting possible dangers. This is what happens when we worry too much.
Another aspect of our brain is its ability to weigh up things and make judgements. However, this automatic functioning of the brain is both a blessing and a curse. To see it in action look around the things around you right now. Is there one thing that your brain can’t criticise in some way and think of a way it could be improved?