Earlier this month, I attended my third funeral. It was for my 97-year-old great-grandmother who had passed away the weekend before, which happened to be on my 18th birthday. Though all of this sounds kind of heavy, it actually sparked some thoughts in me that had been escaping my mind as of late.
My great-grandmother was born in 1921, eight years before the start of the Great Depression. She’d go on to live through World War II, the birth of four children, the death of two husbands and a literal century’s worth of other experiences. What my family will most remember her for, however, is her indomitable positivity and gratitude.
Through all the grieving that was going on around this event, there was still so much joy. My whole family got together to celebrate the life of our wonderful matriarch, and when I say my whole family I mean dozens of aunts and uncles, over 60 cousins, second cousins, cousins-once-removed, etc. Despite the awful circumstance, we were so happy to be around each other, all together for the first time in god knows how long.
This whole experience got me thinking about how one can live to be 97 years old. After some reflection, I think I’ve found the answer: gratitude. Instead of sweating all the little things going wrong, find what sparks joy. For example: when I’m feeling overwhelmed by all of the work I’m swamped with, I instead try to think of how hard I’ve worked to even be given these meaningful responsibilities in the first place.
I’ve been meditating quite a bit as a way to curb anxiety into productive energy, and through that I learned quite an incredible fact. Actively thinking of three things you’re grateful for every day for a week can help retrain your brain to think positively. Who knew that rewiring your brain could be as easy as a few minutes of thinking a day?
Now I’m not saying that everyone should be constantly searching for silver linings. In fact, your truth just might not always have a pretty silver lining surrounding it. That’s perfectly ok, sometimes expected even. Pain can exist in congruence with joy. My point is simply that focusing only on the negative may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The cycle of negativity is frustratingly difficult to escape. However, through finding time to ruminate over the wonderful things in life, you can soon find that you’ll be living a happier existence. This is obviously not the end-all-be-all cure for moodiness or especially depression, but it truly is a start in the right direction. Life is hard; everyone has their own problems to work through. Note the things that make it easier and expend energy there.