After a heart attack or heart surgery, you can feel sad and find it hard to feel happy. No matter how much you want to have positive thoughts. No matter how many times you remind yourself (and others) to stop focusing on the negative. It is never as easy as it seems. You know it will enrich your life. Yet you keep slipping back into the thoughts that erode away your confidence, your self belief and your motivation. I am going to tell you that negative thoughts aren’t all bad and have a purpose. Most importantly I am going to share with you a way that you can get your happy back. It only takes a few moments at the end of each day.
Negative and positive thoughts
The benefits negative moods, feelings and thoughts can provide:
• Clear focus and great when problem-solving
• More attention to detail and researching facts
• An enhanced ability to spot errors and assess risks
The benefits positive moods, feelings and thoughts can provide:
• Expanded thinking, a bigger picture view of things
• More creativity for new ideas and options
• A willingness to explore possibilities and be flexible in approach
Life changing experiences
During a long-term and/or life-threatening illness/or life changes that involve disruption to you physically, mentally, and emotionally it is your thoughts that you spend most of your time with.
Initially, this thinking is of benefit to your recovery. Keeping you safe, acknowledging the situation and exploring what can and can’t be achieved.
However, after a while it can limit you and how you see your life in the future. I experienced 12 months of ill health after rupturing my Achilles’ tendon, having a heart attack, and then being diagnosed with breast cancer. Each time it was like having the rug pulled out from beneath me. I struggled to avoid thoughts of ‘why me’ and ‘what’s the point’ etc.
Many years ago I was taught this technique by my marvellous mentor Melody Cheal. I had used it to help raise my self-esteem after a very painful divorce. It is something that I recommend to my clients and it always has great results even though it is so simple! Eureka I remembered the technique and implemented it, there began my journey back to living and loving life.
This activity will help get your ‘happy’ back
- At the end of each day write a list of 5 positive things that have occurred during that day. Anything that has made you feel happy, that you feel grateful for or that makes you smile.
- You must write them down, it’s no good thinking to yourself I will lie in bed and reflect over the day, you’ll most likely fall asleep!
- So what should this 5 positive things be? Don’t panic, they don’t have to be anything world-shattering like winning the lottery or being given a free holiday but if you do, then include them too. Just little things that you notice that make you feel good.
- These 5 things can be any good stuff that has happened to you, perhaps a free refill of your coffee, finding a penny; someone smiles at you or opens a door for you. Things that you have seen such as the sun is shining, a beautiful flower, a squirrel running up a tree. Maybe something you heard, a piece of music you like, someone said something that made you laugh, hearing children saying something nice to the other one, your partner saying they love you.
- You can also include things you are grateful for, your family, your friends, your health, your home or your mobile phone.
- It really doesn’t matter what those 5 things are as long as they are positive, uplifting and make you feel good. Try not to duplicate anything though as this would negate the exercise; make it your mission to take time to notice the good stuff that is all around you.
- Continue this for the next 6 weeks. Yes I know but it’s really not that long and your happiness is worth it. You may want to purchase a gorgeous journal or keep the details on your phone or tablet. You will produce a journal of 42 days of 5 things that you have experienced. Giving you a total of 210 great things to reflect on.
- By the end of this process, I can assure you that you will be feeling happier, healthier and more fulfilled. You will have retrained your brain.
What’s in it for you?
As a human being, you naturally focus on what goes wrong in your life and often ruminate on them over and over again – you don’t often reflect on the good things. This is heightened especially when you have experienced something life-changing such as a heart attack, cardiac arrest, heart surgery or being given a cardiac diagnosis. You can develop a habit of being quick to notice even the smallest of problems and rarely spend any time thinking about the good stuff, we often don’t even notice them when they happen. It is part of how you were designed to protect and keep yourself alive. Although now that we don’t live in caves, we have other life-changing events, we don’t need to be as hypervigilant.
This activity is such a simple one but incredibly powerful. Take the time to notice the good stuff in your life and create a new habit that could last a lifetime. Get an attitude of gratitude and share your happiness with others, using this technique to re-train your brain for happiness.
Go be happy!