Eroding negative vibes with gratitude
We likely have all come across a disgruntled and jaded co-worker, someone overly preoccupied with spreading negativity. We may even have been in those shoes ourselves.
Little by little, negativity can snowball into extreme gloom. It can be easy to fall into a pattern of seeing the negative in anything and everything — especially in environments where it is a prevalent view. This outlook can spill onto all aspects of one’s life. In fact, negative energy is not only counterproductive; it can also be draining and harmful. Thankfully, actively monitoring negative thoughts and attitudes is within our control and, ultimately, satisfaction or dissatisfaction is to a great extent determined by one’s own perceptions and cognitive approaches.
What we think and how we feel comes from within. There are many ways to think and feel about the same event. We choose how we look at situations and we choose our responses to them. Our “self-talk” and what we think determines how we feel about situations and about ourselves. This largely determines our ability to control emotions and actions.
In law enforcement, this correlates with relating to others, demonstrating tolerance and officer deportment. With better self-control comes the ability to dull negative triggers and calmly cope with the challenges presented to us. Law enforcement officers have the privilege and opportunity to significantly impact the lives of others and to make a difference. As such, it is important to find value in the work being accomplished and have a positive outlook.
Gratitude is a discipline and form of relaxation capable of improving wellness. Studies have shown that its practice reduced depressive symptoms by over 30 per cent in those suffering from depression. It has been linked to better sleep. It has also been shown to reduce stress levels in test subjects and increase physical and mental vigour and vitality.
Practicing gratitude can help us gain greater happiness and a more positive outlook on life. It is not about being blind, oblivious or only seeing a “silver lining.” It is about having a realistic perspective on things to be grateful for. It is about choosing what to focus on and placing value on what one has rather than on what one may not have. It is about focusing on what really matters. It is also about being reminded of things one may take for granted, such as good health or food on the table.
Through the simple practice of gratitude it is possible to turn negative emotions and thought processes into positive ones. Learning to cultivate it comes with practice. Devoting as little as five minutes a day to reflect on something to be grateful for can make a significant difference. A commitment to stop complaining can also foster positivity and break cycles of negativity.
Surrounding oneself with like-minded and positive people is another powerful tactic. I recently experienced a perfect illustration of this while travelling when I met some of the people of Namibia who live in modest conditions in the middle of a desert. While they may not have the latest technology, a large bank account, or many personal possessions they are happy people. They spend hours together as a community. Evenings are devoted to chanting and dancing as a celebration of life and the surrounding beauty of nature. They also practice being openly thankful for what they have and even for the basics such rain, animals and the food they eat.
One often attracts what one projects. Recognizing, acknowledging and being thankful promotes happiness and wellness. The key to “having it all” is knowing you already do.
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