Gratitude

Episode #51

Do you practice gratitude every day? With the hustle and bustle of life, especially during the holiday season, we can get caught up with the to-do’s and our current circumstances that we don’t always stop to think about all we are grateful for. As Thanksgiving is this week, today’s episode focuses on the importance of practicing gratitude with intention so you can live a life that feels full and overflowing rather than half full or completely empty.  


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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Ashley
You’re listening to the rise up and shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids, we have both shared very similar and very real struggles. From chaos to coaches, we now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the rise up and shine podcast.

Claudine
Welcome back listeners. Today we are talking about gratitude. We are coming up on Thanksgiving and there’s no better time to talk about what giving thanks really does for our mental and emotional well being. So this episode today is all about gratitude. And I found this great quote by Doris Day, Ashley, I don’t know if you know who she is. But I’ve heard of her. You heard her. But she says gratitude is riches complaint is poverty. And gratitude is the appreciation for what you have. And it doesn’t include comparing it’s not a comparison. It’s just standing alone, gratitude, just giving thanks just for what we have what we appreciate in our own life.

Ashley
A little harder to do these days with social media.

Claudine
It is harder, isn’t it?

Ashley
When you see everybody else’s life, you know, right plastered on Facebook and Instagram is all the things I’m missing out on.

Claudine
Right? Right. And that’s why it’s more important than ever to develop an attitude of gratitude. And gratitude actually can reshape our neural pathways, when we give things it actually changes the wiring in our brain. So it’s super important to practice this not only once a year, but on a daily basis.

Ashley
And that’s the key word is practice. Right? It is a practice. It’s not something that’s just Well, I’m just more of a grateful person by nature. Yeah, I mean, it’s, there might be some of that out there. But also with the demands and pressures of life, we can easily fall out of having a grateful heart, right. Oh, and we we talk about Oh, yeah, just be grateful. Just be grateful. We tell our kids just be grateful for what you have, you know, there’s people who have less than you and but as we grow up and become adults, we don’t practice it on a daily basis. And so the complaining creeps in the venting the comparison, all that stuff creeps in and really hampers our life, then we kind of go through life living at half empty, right? The glass is half empty.

Claudine
And that is exactly when I was in my 20s I had a mentor, an older woman that mentored me. And she said, you’re kind of a glass half empty kind of gal. And what she was really trying to show me and teach me was that I could see everything that was missing in my life. But I had a really hard time seeing what I did have. And so it’s been a couple decades of practicing this, I’m telling you that it has changed my life experience. My human experience here is I’ve developed this attitude of gratitude, and really given me a better life because the brain cannot focus on negative and positive thoughts at the same time. So if you’re thinking about all the positive things going on your life, your brain cannot focus on anything else. And then it will start to see all those things out there. In our experience. Like I’m thinking about how wonderful My husband is. And he’s such an amazing man. Everything he does that day, I’ll have a sense I can look at that he brought me my coffee, or, wow, he’s working today, what an amazing thing that he has a job and all of a sudden, I view the experience that I’m having in life through these rose colored glasses. And it only benefits me and everyone around me to have an attitude of gratitude.

Ashley
I love the rose colored glasses. My husband and I have had conversations and even just kind of joked around about our different personalities. Right? So I am more of I look at things through rose colored glasses. And then he’s more the realist, right, which really pessimists but he likes to call it a realist and I agree, okay, okay. But we’ll teach each other because he’ll see things a certain way. And I’ll see things a certain way. And I’ll always see, you know, try to see the positive. Like, for example, if someone dumps a bunch of furniture off the side of the road, and he’ll be I guess that’s a shame people just dump their stuff on the side of the road. And I’ll be like, how did you know it didn’t fall out of the truck? I give people the benefit of the doubt. But a lot of times to an extent where is probably really unrealistic, however, but we talk about I I’d rather see things right. You know, I’d rather see things in a positive light even if I am wrong, because I feel better. Yeah, and I’d rather be happier in my life. But I have noticed that when I you know, especially as women get together, you know friends and we Sitting, we talk about life. And we can kind of complain and complain and complain about this or that. But then sometimes I’ll sprinkle in throughout my complaining to my friends. I know I need to be grateful. And I’m really grateful for this. But

Claudine
It takes away. It’s like, I’m really grateful but

Ashley
Right. Oh, it’s just like, what did I even say that you know that it’s not coming from a grateful heart. It’s just I know, I should, however, I have this right to complain about all this stuff that I’m, you know, throwing up all over you about, but it’s very true. And I had this conversation with someone about well, what’s the difference between venting and complaining? Hmm, because sometimes we, we do need to get things off of our chest and out of our brain, right, kind of, like, get it out of our head. But when we go on and on and on and on, and every morning, we wake up and we’re just kind of negative. We kind of wake up with this. Yeah, negative mood and energy. And oh, man, it’s like, and I’ve been doing that even more recently with this. Yeah. Actual schooling. Yes. I am not a fan of Yes. In the beginning, I was like, Oh, great, early summer vacation, and then reality said it. I’m like, Whoa, you will come in every day. Check me out. Are we going back guys, I’m ready, I’m ready. But I got to this place where every morning, I would wake up and I’m like, Here we go again. Here we go again. And I would go to bed super exhausted and not have much time to recoup, you know, with all the responsibilities of taking care of the house and my family and all this stuff I have to do. And I’d sleep and I wouldn’t even feel like I’m rested. And then I’d wake up again in the morning. Here we go again, right. But I would constantly wake up with that attitude. And yeah, what happened? Did I have a great day? No, I didn’t have a great day. It was a challenging day. But when I became aware of how much I was complaining about it, I realized that I was essentially creating it. I was I’m complaining I was creating this whole environment. And I kid you not this really helps listeners out there. It really helps to fake it till you make it. Yeah, cuz I did, I’d have to put on the happy face. I would wake up in the morning and I try to prepare my heart. And I would say it’s gonna be a great day, I would tell the kids today’s gonna be a great day. Well, why mom, just because it is it’s just gonna be a great day. And I would tell the kids is like I said, you know, when we wake up, and we say, it’s gonna be a great day, most likely, we will get to experience that. And that is our choice. And what are we going to focus on?

Claudine
Yeah, and it’s training our brains, like you said, it’s training our brains to be grateful to look for the good in the day. Yes, like that you have a home, you might be homeschooling, but at least you have a home, right? You know, comfortable home where people have space, your kids have space, they have a place to do it, it takes so much work to cultivate that skill. I mean, it wasn’t natural for me. But studies have shown that the more gratitude we have in our life, the more giving up things that we do, we actually have better sleep, there’s a direct correlation to lower depression, there’s an indirect correlation to lower anxiety, we have a higher activity in our hypothalamus, we have higher dopamine, which is our feel good neurotransmitter. And actually, expressing gratitude can improve our mental health by shifting our frame of mind, which is what you were talking about. And physically, we can have fewer aches and pains. I thought that was interesting, then, having been grateful that expressing gratitude can actually reduce aches and pains. That’s just fascinating to me that our mindset can actually affect our physical well being. I mean, I know that but every time I see a new study about it, I’m like, wow, giving things I can feel better all the way around just by being thankful.

Ashley
Well I could tell you from personal experience that when I am stressed out and seeing all the negative and kind of thinking the negative or voicing the negative, my muscles in my back, just tighten and frazzled on me or now I have a pinched nerve, because of all the stress and it literally can feel like a heavy burden on your shoulders. Yet a lot of it is just I just need to focus on what’s going on in my head. You know, am I complaining? Am I kind of having this attitude of just complaining every time you know my husband and I talk on his drive home from work? What’s our conversation like? Am I just kind of venting to him and just being honest, and every conversation every time he sees me, it’s this negative, negative negative and that’s not necessarily what he wants to hear. Now coming off of a 12 hour day.

Claudine
Hard for him to be grateful.

Ashley
He’s such a trooper though. But I recognize it in myself because I know all this stuff right And granted, we, you and I, Claudine and we know all this stuff, but we still fall back into our old past. Right times when we are kind of ridden with extra stress, you know, 2020 Come on, that’s just extra stress for everybody. So, but really paying attention to this complaining, and practicing gratitude, you can always find something to be grateful for, because you’ll ask people will ask, Well, I don’t have anything to be grateful for this is happening. And this happened and this and this. And I validate that like, yes, you are having a hard time. Absolutely. But there is something you can be grateful for. Clean water. Right? You can you shower, a bed, a bed? Yeah, no, I mean, a friend, it’s, you know, we there are things to be grateful for. But when you are so heavy burdened with all this stress, and extra, just, you know, I mean, that’s not how I explained it. It’s just all this extra stuff that’s really unnecessary. It’s really hard. It just kind of puts these blinders on. Yes. And sometimes it even helps to, as we’re talking with a friend, someone that is a trusted friend, someone who can help us out and even help us see a little bit more clear, right? You know, and granted, yes, there are times when we are really deep and despair that we don’t always want to hear, hey, this is what you should do and be grateful. But it does help to have another personal listening ear to talk through that stuff with because there is sometimes we do need a little extra help finding something right in our life that we could be grateful for.

Claudine
Yep. And while and we talk about it all the time, but our thoughts are going to trigger our emotion, right? They are what create our emotion. So far, thoughts are filled with gratitude and Thanksgiving, then we are going to feel better, we won’t have to bake it, we will feel better. And when we have that shift in our frame of mind, we have a better psychological experience. Despite the external circumstance. I know so many times, it’s like you were saying it’s when things are tough, it’s hard to be grateful were like, well, I’ll be grateful when Yeah, but there is so much to be grateful for despite the external circumstance. And we’re going to share a few practicals that can really help us all during the season and year round to really express gratitude. And one of them, it’s one of my husband’s favorite. Actually, he does this. And he shared this with a lot of his friends. But he’ll make a list of 100 things. And I know in the past, he’s challenged me to do it in during really tough times. I was lucky if I came up with 20. Right, like 100. But then I started thinking, well, at least I have my eyes, I can see. Because I’d be really hard. I’m very visual. So it’d be really tough for me, if I can see, well, at least I have my ears, you know, and I can hear because I’d be really hard if I couldn’t hear my children, of course, each one of them. But I remember there were days we’re coming up with toys is really, really, really hard. But the challenge is to do 100. And I’ll never forget, it was quite a few years ago, but he came up with like 330 Oh my gosh, things he was grateful for me about, oh my god, it was amazing. It was huge. So you find that, well, we’ve moved a few times since then. So it’s somewhere in a box somewhere in your relationship and always look back on it. But he had, it was a long list. And he didn’t was very encouraging for me. But a year or so later, he was sharing with a couple that were with and he said, You know, I made that list because I wasn’t feeling really great about our relationship. I didn’t know that at the time. But it helped changed his frame of mind towards me, after writing out all those things, it really forced him to look deeper and find things that he could really be grateful for about me. So it was very encouraging for me at the time when I read the list. And then of course for him, it changed his mind mindset, you know, he was able to be grateful for me. So that’s definitely one a list of 100 things you’re grateful for. It doesn’t have to be about one person. It could just be things in life.

Ashley
That is a really good one. I think especially with upcoming Thanksgiving. Yeah, I mean, we tend to Oh, let’s, you know, write a bunch of things that we’re grateful for. And we can make a little family list in my fridge or we can write down these beautiful little leaves. And…

Claudine
Yes, we’ve done the Thanksgiving. You’ve done the things.

Ashley
Yeah. It does not have to be anything elaborate, right. Just like as your husband did. Something to help. I mean, obviously he recognized he was kind of deficient in feeling gratitude. Yes, you you know because yeah, guys, we’re having a tough time in your relationship at that point. Or he was he was recognized.

Claudine
I was clueless. Things were great.

Ashley
Isn’t that the way things go though. But you know, it’s funny because as you have counseled us in the past that was one thing he recommended to us. And I remember when we left after that conversation, we both look at each other and like, what 100 things?

Claudine
I know, it seems impossible, doesn’t it?

Ashley
Yeah, I’m just like, I can’t even think of one. Because our blinders are on, we’re so discouraged or frustrated about this one thing with my spouse. And that’s what happens, right? I mean, whether it’s a situation or a person or just life in general, we do we focus, we hyper focus right on that and then that we’re constantly just going to see that negative and then we keep feeding it because we keep reciting those things, right? A lot of times this is what happens when family gets together around the holidays. We start focusing on all the negative things that have happened in the past and the hurts, you know, specific hurts and essentially, it’s the records of wrong we have kept a record of wrong if I are starting to play back all those memories in our head of how this person in my family did me wrong or when they said this to me that time or how I was treated this way and it wasn’t fair and and we’ll start kind of reliving the past and then imagine I mean, okay, now I’m going to go in and be with my family and be grateful and have a good time. Like most likely that’s not going to happen. So mindset mindset mindset, it we can’t say it enough that prepare yourself prepare yourself to go into that situation. Exactly. And one thing I wanted to say as well so holidays are contend to be extremely stressful for everybody but I would even say probably a little more so for women. I would think we tend to do more of the Christmas shopping. I tend to think we do more of the cleaning more of the cooking you know