The power of positivity is pretty bloody important when you are trying to make life changes. On those days when you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel, it is even more important.
I am not normally one to compare my life and my issues with those of others, but occasionally I like to count my blessings. This can sound quite patronising I guess – looking at someone else and being thankful that you aren’t them. In fact, I got a bit miffed myself the other day when a lady who usually attends the Slimming World group before mine, told me how sorry she had felt for me – watching me waddle into the building and having a rest before stepping on the scales. I actually feel sorry for her though – she has a heck of a lot of weight to lose and hasn’t shifted any in the past year. The devil and bitch in me did feel that her comments were slightly ironic…surely sympathy should start at home?
Nevertheless, I think this comparison thing is something that we have all done. I have to admit to sitting in the car park at Sainsbury’s the other day, a bit fed up, nervous about heading to the swimming pool…wondering what people might think when they saw me, and wondering how the hell I was going to get out of the pool! The next thing I saw was a chap getting out of his car. He had one leg, and was manoeuvring himself around the car to get his wheelchair. Part of me wanted to help him, but thought that it might been seen as offensive…he had driven himself there and was on his own, so was absolutely able to do his thing. It made me reassess my stupidity over my worries right at that moment. Not that it should have done really…but it did.
We all have issues in our life – and those issues are pretty much there to stay I would imagine. I know people who struggle to lose weight – fitting in time for themselves around a busy life with kids, and kids with behavioural issues, partners who aren’t supportive, jobs with long hours, long-term health issues, money issues…this stuff is kind of here to stay. So we need to work around our issues – finding a way of getting to our goal without using these things as a get-out clause. Focus on what you can change, not what you can’t.
I started reading more about the power of positive psychology when I realised that I was putting all of the focus on my issues and not the solutions. My mood was incredibly low and I was struggling to find any brightness in my life. It was almost as if I was waiting for a ‘big-bang’…something incredibly wonderful to happen…I don’t know what I was expecting really – fireworks, fanfares?! The simple truth is that life is generally fairly sedate. If you want exciting things to happen, then you have to make them happen.
So I started to get positive and excited about life again. I have had many lovely emails from people saying that they have loved the changes in my mood – they have noticed that my blog posts have become more positive…I thought that I would share my little simple technique with you. Firstly though, let me give you some of the background to it. I read an article by Daniel Tomasulo which summarises a few things that helped me make this change…although I have pretty much written my own thoughts…so I don’t know why I mentioned Daniel really!
There is a good deal of research – too much to go into detail about – which determine the factors that affect our positive emotions. The best bit is that this research is then used to focus upon practical applications…meaning that we can learn how to affect our mood positively.
Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania is also known as “The Father of Positive Psychology.” This chap changed the way we understood and treated depression by introducing a theory of learned helplessness in the mid 1970s. He has now changed the way we understand happiness.
His work on depression was not simply a matter of saying ‘think happy thoughts and you’ll feel better,’ it is a highly scientific approach toward understanding the methods and techniques which have the greatest potential of increasing a sense of well-being and happiness and identifying which of them may work best for you.
The ‘Three Blessings’ is an amazingly simple technique which has been shown to have a powerful, positive effect on reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, while simultaneously increasing a sense of joy and well-being.
I read about this and decided to try it for myself. During a particularly tough time in my life – when I used to drive home from work in tears – I would do something that sounds so simple, yet is so bloody powerful. I thought about three things that happened during that day that made me happy, and why I believed they happened. I told you that it was simple…and I can imagine that you are reading this and wondering what the big deal is!
Research has shown that participants who do this daily, for one week, increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms for six months. Yep – one week of doing this can lead to a feel-good that lasts for six months. You don’t need to continually do it either. New research has shown that it can be more effective when it isn’t practised daily.
For me though, I do like to try and have a think on a daily basis about the good. It has helped me become a little more positive in general. My Dad is a glass half-full person…and I took after him! I am the annoying person who always points out the flaws in the wonderful plans that people come up with. I am the one who injects a dose of realism! So to be able to look at things with a touch of positive…is positive as far as I am concerned!
Try it – take some time this evening to think about three blessings. Better still, write them down. Then do it again a few days later…and then a few days after that. See how you feel. Re-read your blessings. Then see how you feel. It is another little item in that toolbox I keep talking about…the one that will help you fix your way to your goal.
I had forgotten about these blessings until the beginning of the year. And when I started counting mine, I began to feel more positive. When you feel more positive, you stop reaching for that food that you think does that job for you. Since using mind tools such as these, I have really made strides in my emotional eating…I rarely get food cravings, hardly ever eat chocolate (and I used to eat a family bar or bag each day!), and my junk food consumption has dropped dramatically. It is not just about will power…it’s about positive mind power!
The usuals then…
The dog woke us both up early. She was making weird noises, but I have a feeling she just wanted her breakfast! So we sorted her out and then jumped back in bed to have a chat about life and our future…my work stuff. It seems we are always having these conversations, but it is good to know that we are on the same page. We eventually got up, grabbed a quick breakfast and then headed off to see the horses. They were all okay. My Welsh lad still did not seem happy with his new/old rug, so I think I will have to sort it out for him…can’t have my #1 boy feeling silly! So they all had a fuss, and the dog had a good run around the field, before we headed off to Asda for today’s supplies. It was then home for a lazy afternoon of Christmas present wrapping, Prison Break and food…perfect.
Breakfast: HiFi bar and a banana (6 syns).
Brekkie and lunch were quick and simple…you can’t beat a bacon roll on a Sunday! Dinner…well…dinner was one of those moments that I took a deep breath over and counted the blessing that I had food. I didn’t have the food I wanted or had planned, but I had food. My wonderful other half was lazing in the bath whilst I prepared dinner. He was rudely interrupted when I asked him where the broccoli and cauliflower was that had been written on the shopping list. Hmm…we were supposed to be having broccoli and cauliflower cheese, but he had forgotten the key ingredients! So I had to cobble something together; I can’t say I was that happy. I still have my food issues and one of these issues is deviating off my planned meals for the day. We shop daily, and don’t have stocked cupboards…as stocked cupboards and binge eating disorder is not a great combo. So I didn’t really have much to work with other than the addition of a bit of spinach. I wasn’t happy – and considered ordering a chicken breast kebab…but what would that solve? It would cost a lot, I would still be annoyed, and so I just made do…counting my blessings that I had a dinner – unlike many. The Kallo corn and rice snacks were good…a bit like a posh version of Snack a Jacks! The flavours were a bit more ‘adult’ – sundried tomato and herb, and a sweet chilli – they were good for 4.5 syns a pack.
Exercise: A lovely rest day with just a tiny mooch with the horses in the field.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx
P.S. You can read more about Seligman here in an article that I read a good few years ago relating to his Happiness Formula.