Overcoming Hard Times with the power of Thankfulness
(spoiler alert: how to replace negative thoughts with thoughts of Thankfulness to be empowered daily.)
I’m excited to share with you about the power of Thankfulness to take you through a hard time.
If you are in a season of your life which is particularly difficult, I believe that this Thankfulness key will give you more hope, positivity and strength! Plus as a bonus and once you have come through a hard time, you will have developed a powerful habit that will continue to give you benefits for the rest of your life.
Is Thankfulness really grunty enough to help me? Yes, Thankfulness is surprisingly powerful and to use as an example, there is a powerful story below on thankfulness in a concentration camp in WW2
…….. Lets define what kind of thankfulness we are talking about.
This is not:
An occasional thankful thought that you stumble on when you turn on the news or see someone melt down on facebook and think ‘I’m thankful that’s not me’.
Putting into practise a habit of Thankfulness. An intentional Thankfulness that we use when a troubling thought or challenging situation confronts us. This is developing Thankfulness techniques to think firstly of all the good things.
So this is Thankfulness, a simple and powerful solution that used everyday can give you great results.
How introducing Thankfulness into your thought life propels you up
Thankfulness is an active weapon to put into action when everything seems to be going wrong. Thankful thoughts stop a downward spiral of negativity and hopelessness and create upward momentum.
The power of your thoughts.
Our thoughts and the resulting actions are what form our day to day realities. What you think about yourself and your situation, is the reality that you live in. We live outwards from our thoughts. *important note* how we perceive life is not always how life is, and changing how we think can change our circumstances.
The great news is that you can control your thoughts. You are the Boss. Now, this can be really hard when there is so much that seems to be going wrong and threats and fear loom large in your present and future. Your mind right now might be totally consumed with these types of thoughts leaving you feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
So here is what you do:
Bring in good thoughts. Whatever you water with your valuable ‘thought time’ will grow. Good thoughts and bad. No one wants to be thinking bad thoughts, and saying ‘don’t think about them’ is not enough to make them go away.
Here is the key: Replace these bad thoughts with something else.
And this is where Thankfulness comes in (trumpet blast, limo roles up).
It's like having a Basketball team of thoughts in your mind and loading up this team up with optimistic players. Choosing thankfulness is like importing a new player to your mind team, a player full of hope and positivity.
When you start thinking of what you are Thankful for and what you do have, your optimism, hope and empowerment will rise, now check out this story -
How Thankfulness empowers us and gets us through:
Contrary to how you feel, there is always something to be thankful for:
In a concentration camp in World War two, the Dutch Ten Boom sisters from Holland were imprisoned in terrible circumstances for harbouring Jewish people. The prisoners were starving, sickly and death was a daily occurrence. A bleak time of seeming hopelessness.
In the midst of this, the sisters would try to think of what they could be thankful for, surely there would not be anything! One of the sisters decided to be thankful for……. lice. Lice!!! The other sister was incredulous, ‘why would you ever be thankful for lice!?’. The sister replied ‘the fear of getting lice keeps the guards away and we can meet and pray in peace’.
Thankfulness changes your perspective - these is still good going on.
There are wins going on in other areas of your life that you may be missing. Your heart is beating, your lungs are breathing, you have an incredible mind, the air is clean, the water is drinkable…. When we start thinking of all these things, we realise that the World (and your world) is not all bad, there is actually a lot of great things going on!
Thankfulness opens your eyes to what tools you have to be able to get out of hard times.
When you think of all that you don’t have, your mind is constrained from thinking of solutions. To find solutions and think creatively, you work out all the tools that you have at your disposal. You have your imagination, strength, life, inspirational autobiographical stories from others, your body, your mind, your future in front of you, a country full of opportunity.
Thankfulness keeps your mind on the up, It’s like walking along a road and looking at the trees, sun and sky instead of walking head down looking at the chewing gum, cracks in the road and rubbish in the kerb.
Thankfulness creates hope in your present moment.
So let’s look at how to create a Thankful mindset::
What to do to establish an everyday Thankful mindset
1/ Go for 10, 20, 50 , then 100!
A great journey starts with a small step. Start by thinking of ten things that you are thankful for right now. Look around, a chair to sit on, eyes reading this, oxygen to breathe, my heart is beating, running water to drink..
It's never harder than when you start. Start small and work your way up. Challenging yourself to go big is mind blowing and shows you that there is so much!
2/ Think of what you are thankful for and why
When you add a ‘why’ to your thankfulness, it brings an extra layer of joy and understanding.
I am thankful for an Orange because …...it tastes delicious, makes Orange juice and has vitamin C. Now how much more do you feel good about Oranges?
3/ Establish a daily habit
To lock in a Thankfulness response when negative thoughts arise, requires retraining your mind daily. Write down 5 - 10 things that you are thankful for in each of these areas; Your body, your friends and family, your job/schooling/vocation, this country, your future, then hang it up on your mirror and read them out every morning when you get up.
If you start the day like this, you have won the day before it has started.
start the day by thinking what you are thankful for
4/ Establish a thankful response when a negative thought comes up. (Choose which glasses you want to wear)
When a negative thought comes across your mind, stop and think of 3-4 things in your life that you are thankful for. A great way to think of this is you have two pairs of glasses; the first pair are dark glasses which; is looking at the world in a negative light. The second pair have yellow lenses; looking at the world through a Thankfulness mindset. When a negative thought comes up, think; ‘I need to change my glasses’.
5/ Put up visual reminders - on your phone, on your mirror, computer screen saver, post-its….
Be reminded daily of all the things that you have in your life by putting them on your phone background, on post it notes, write them in pen on the inside of your hand, anywhere! Get creative, we need all the inspiring cues and reminders that we can get as we go about our lives.
6/ Say what you are Thankful for outloud - set up a daily confession
Now this is powerful. When you hear spoken words, even if they are yours, your mind will take this input in. It takes courage to speak Thankfulness out loud but there is undeniable power in it. Create a daily confession you can read out of all the things that you are thankful for. You could even Sing them in the shower ;)
7/ It takes Grit - dig deep
Being Thankful is one of the hardest things that you can do when you feel down. It is doing the opposite of what you feel like. This takes determination. The more that you do it the easier it will get. You can do it! Don’t give up.
8/ Go minute by minute, thought by thought and day by day.
Just manage what is in front of you, this present moment, like Edmund Hilary and Tenzing climbing Mt Everest, one step at a time to reach the summit. Resist thinking of the big picture if you are overwhelmed by that, live in the present moment, where you can impact your life by choosing great thoughts. You have enough strength and energy for the next moment. Heading in the right direction, one step at a time will get you there. How do you finish something?; take the next step. Plus like Hillary and Tenzing were a team, Thankfulness is your team member.
so…..Thankfulness isn’t a whimsical thought that you have every now and then, it is a course of action that you choose and put into effect with daily effort and discipline. It's not always easy, especially in hard times, but it is very effective.
I hope that helps and I want to encourage you;
Yours will be a story of overcoming.
You will make it through. Your story of walking through a dark and hard time towards a better future will be an inspiration that you can look back on and inspire yourself and others with.
I hope that these tips have helped. Thankfulness is just one of many things that you can do to make it through hard times including but not limited to: physical activity, doing things you love, giving to others, eating well, getting sleep, forgiving others and positive input.
If you are in need of further help, please reach out to one of New Zealand’s excellent help services:
For counselling and support
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
For children and young people
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (for young people, and their parents, whānau and friends)
What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm)
The Lowdown – visit the website, email email@example.com or free text 5626 (emails and text messages will be responded to between 12 noon and 12 midnight)
SPARX – an online self-help tool that teaches young people the key skills needed to help combat depression and anxiety
For help with specific issues
Depression.org.nz – includes The Journal free online self-help tool
Chinese Lifeline – 0800 888 880 (for people who speak Mandarin or Cantonese)
Alcohol Drug Helpline – 0800 787 797 (for people dealing with an alcohol or other drug problem; 10 am to 10 pm)
Women's Refuge Crisisline – 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE) (for women living with violence, or in fear, in their relationship or family)
Shakti Crisis Line – 0800 742 584 (for migrant or refugee women living with family violence)
Rape Crisis – 0800 883 300 (for support after rape or sexual assault)
PlunketLine – 0800 933 922 (support for new parents, including mothers experiencing postnatal depression)
For families, whānau, friends and supporters
Skylight – 0800 299 100 (for support through trauma, loss and grief; 9 am to 5 pm weekdays)
Supporting Families In Mental Illness – 0800 732 825 (for families and whānau supporting a loved one who has a mental illness)
Common Ground – a central hub providing parents, family, whānau and friends with access to information, tools and support to help a young person who’s struggling
Mental Health Foundation – for more information about supporting someone in distress, looking after your mental health and working towards recovery