There’s a lot to feel negative about these days, what with the pandemic, stress in and out of work, the general state of the world, etc. But if your negativity is becoming more frequent, a simple act of gratitude can do wonders.
There’s an important thing to remember about negativity, says bestselling author and mindfulness coach Kate James. It’s actually good in small doses.
“People sometimes think that negative thought is all wrong. But actually, our brains are wired that way,” she tells Body+Soul in a recent episode of the Healthy-ish podcast.
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“It was a way that we kept we kept ourselves alive in primitive times. So, we want to have some critical thinking because it helps to keep us safe in the world and to protect us from you know, making fools of ourselves.”
She says negativity becomes problematic when our “tendency is to think negatively all the time,” and to change the way we think can take practice and training.
James says meditation does wonders for increasing our self-awareness and allows us to catch ourselves when we’re spiraling into negative thought.
“Then we can just stop and use a little bit of curiosity: Is this helping? Is this the way I want my thoughts to go?” she says.
But if you can’t see yourself meditating, the simple act of gratitude goes a long way if you’re having a bad day, or if you’re dwelling on a mistake you’ve made at work.
It might sound “light and fluffy” but she says there’s a lot of research to back up the effectiveness of gratitude.
“Just stopping and being thankful for whatever the small things that are,” she says.
“I’m sitting here having a coffee, and I’m actually going to taste my coffee and really enjoy it, or a glass of wine at the end of the day or something lovely that your kids have done. It just helps to create a little bit of perspective.”