Gratitude: Why It Matters
It is easy to get into a dark place where questioning everything you do is second nature. With Instagram and Facebook it is easy to feel down when you see everyone posting about their "perfect" life. As an avid hunter, I can speak first hand how these social media outlets can either help or hinder your experience. Every day, I am constantly bombarded by big bucks being harvested or by posts of dads living the good life and an existence that nearly seems absent of actual work and struggle. Slowly, day by day, I begin to question everything from my daily tasks to my self worth. I find myself justifying everything and fighting self-doubt on a consistent basis. In certain situations, like with hunting, I even find myself not enjoying and even loathing the experience. If you are feeling many of these same feelings that I face, here are some tips to hopefully turn the tide and swing the ship in the right direction.
Take a Step Back (Reset)
Time is a very important thing, and sometimes we need to reset time. Take a step back from whatever it is you are doing and try to reset your center. Regardless of the activity, from hunting to parenting, take some time for yourself and step away from the activity. Spouses can help one another with parenting by giving each other a break. This is especially important as kids grow older and challenge us more and more. Simply being away from the activity can cause you to reflect on all of the good that activity brings and even begin to cause you to miss the activity. I have had to do this several times this year with hunting. Several incidents have caused me to question why I even bother but with a quick reset, I come back with a new attitude and love for the hunt.
Practicing gratitude is one of the most rewarding activities and can be done solo or as a family. I have really struggled over the years with feeling self worth and feeling like I have done enough to put my family in a good position. Practicing gratitude really helps to put things into prospective about where I have come and where the trajectory of life is taking me. There is no right or wrong way to practice gratitude, but here are two ways that I do this on a daily basis.
First I have a reflection journal where I am writing down all of the things I am grateful for on a daily basis. I usually try to pick a few things each day and watch the list add up over time. Things I often add are a stable job, a healthy family, a roof over our heads, warm food at the dinner table, etc. I even add things like a new bow I bought this year, or two paid off vehicles. Writing these things down puts things into prospective but also begins to shift your mind set from a victim or deficit mentality to a thriving and bountiful one. Practice gratitude each day and you will slowly see your mind shift over time.
The second way I practice gratitude is with my oldest son before bed every night. I ask him several questions including: What was the best part of your day? What will you work on to improve tomorrow? and What are you the most thankful for today? He doesn't always have the answer on the tip of his tongue, but silence is the best medicine and usually after several minutes I can't get him to stop talking. Doing this with him, not only changes his attitude, but in a way validates everything I am working on which in turn changes my attitude.
Take a Walk
Exercise is often the best medicine when facing the blues. Studies show that exercising releases endorphins and other chemicals in the brain which can quickly alter our mood. Exercise is also a great time to simply take your mind off of whatever it is that is bothering you. Go for a walk, ride a bike or go lift some heavy stuff. Whatever you do, don't sit there and fret about everything on the couch. Let the endorphins rain down on the pity parade and turn your attitude around.
I'm sure there are plenty more ideas on how to shift prospective, but we'll touch on more in other posts. What do you do when you start catching yourself in a downward spiral? Have you tried any of the techniques mentioned in this article? Leave a comment!