Great-full Summer: Shifting your Mood

I have been really cranky lately, allowing stress and worry to overwhelm me. I haven't been meditating, or breathing deeply enough. Here's some things that I am trying to do to shift my thinking. Perhaps it might benefit you, if you find yourself caught up or annoyed or just wake up on the wrong side of the bed. 

Take deep breaths. I need to remember this more, particularly before I react or take things personally or get defensive. Deep breaths can wash away whatever you're thinking and give a fresh start. Breathe in smooth, long, and deep and exhale smooth, long, and deep. Do this for one or two minutes and you will notice a shift in your mood.

Acknowledge what you are feeling. Recognize that you are tense or stressed or sleep deprived or angry or cranky or moody or whatever it is you're feeling. Acknowledge the feeling and then decide to shift it. 

Replace your thoughts of irritation and frustration with something positive. Ask yourself: 

What is incredible about this moment? No matter what is happening, there is something good about each moment. A few days ago, I wasn't paying attention and left an interior light on in my car. I decided to leave to pick M up a bit earlier. When I tried the car, it wouldn't start and I realized the interior light was on. Thankfully, I was leaving early enough that I could wait a few minutes and then try again. So even though I was upset and unsure of whether or not I'd be able to start the car, I was grateful that I had some time to figure it out. It was incredibly hot that day, so I was also grateful that I was home and could cool off inside while waiting. 

What am I most grateful for at this moment? 

Is what I'm upset about or annoyed with or frustrated by or angry about important? How can I make my peace of mind more important? 

How can I shift my thoughts to gratitude? Sometimes I think of moment that makes me happy or a song I love to snap me out of it. 

Sleep or Nap. Not getting enough sleep definitely makes us cranky. If you find yourself unable to snap out of it,  you might need a brief nap. Find a place that is quiet that you can rest your head and close your eyes. Set a timer or alarm for 10 or 15 minutes. 

Drink water. Dehydration can lead to irritability. So if you're feeling cranky, try drinking a glass or two or of cold water. As you do, calm your thoughts by repeating a mantra. Something as simple as, "everything is okay. I am okay." or "I am grateful for this water and its refreshing qualities. Let it refresh my thoughts as it refreshes my body."

Music. Listening to calming sounds or music you like, can help you break out of your cranky demeanor. It helps me constantly to shake out whatever bothers me. I particularly like Florence + Machine's Shake it Out

Exercise. This helps me the most, I have to admit. Even if you don't have time for a full gym workout, doing 10 push ups or situps or walking around your building will get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. If you shift your body, often your mind will follow. 


Great-full Summer: Seeing your world

To create a practice of gratitude, you have to cultivate a conscious awareness of your life in its chaotic, messy, glory. This is easier, of course, when things go well. But it's incredibly challenging to be grateful in difficult times. 

I am not an expert on gratitude. I fail at not complaining. I get anxious. I worry. I lament and am envious of talent, skills (like DIY or photography) that others have. But I am aware that this behavior is not helpful. There is a theory that the energy you put out is the energy you invite. So the more negative you are, the more negative things come your way, or perhaps it's just that you see them that way. Similarly to luck, if you think you have it, you do. 

This isn't to say that crappy things don't happen. They certainly do. And there are times when we aren't sure why; what could the reason possibly be? Low points are low, often obvious to us. The struggles we face can feel like moving through quicksand. I recently lamented to someone that I wished that "it", life, job searching, whatever you want to insert here was just a little bit easier, that for once things were simple. But during our conversation, we talked about the importance of awareness, of recognizing and being grateful for the times that seem simple, where things fall into place (luck?). I also think we need to be grateful for what we learn as we experience challenges. This is the hardest part, for me. 

One of the best things about Project Life is that as I work on layouts, I am continuously aware of the magic, friends, amazing food, relationships and places in my life. I try to stop and take notice; this is one of the reasons I recap my layouts. The constant reflection allows me to make visible so many elements of my life and helps me to create a space of gratitude. So, Project Life is part of awareness for me.

As my mind races with a million things, logistics, what ifs, excitement, panic, all of it rolled into one, it is so easy to miss the beauty of this moment. I am surrounded by stuff I need to put into boxes or decide to give away. I have a chance, among the chaos, to be grateful for this process, for the stuff, for the opportunity to help someone else. 

The challenge today is to take a photograph or series of photographs with your phone, or camera of what you are grateful for, even if, and perhaps especially if it's also something that is giving you stress. Consider people, places, and things that make you smile. What do you want to appreciate by really, truly seeing it represented? 

Share your photos on twitter with the #greatfull hashtag or on your own blogs or Facebook. 

A small glimpse into the chaos: