Chelle Summer

Retraining the Brain: Focusing on the Good

Michelle Rusk

I found this blog from two years ago on my old web site and it felt appropriate to repost for the holiday season:

It's easy to do: we start to think about something that's not so good in our lives, or something we're frustrated about, or something that just isn't great. One thought leads to another. And we can't stop.

While this can happen anytime, it always feels as if it's more pronounced during the holidays. Every television commercial we see portrays complete happiness and prosperity. Then we look around our own homes and lives, knowing full well there aren't the funds (or significant other) to receive that piece of jewelry or the new car for Christmas. And we forget that it's not about the material gifts, getting swept away by what media shows us, believing we should have that, too.

And so the thoughts begin: we think about the past year and all the pain. We realize we didn't accomplish much of anything that we had wanted to do in the past year...


Why do we focus on all that's so challenging and difficult when there is so much good around us?

I can hear a few cynical snickers about how I am getting married and how can I not only see the good right now?

Not quite: life is always challenging no matter what good is happening. And I know what it's like to be struggling especially during the holidays when I've spent them single, without a secure relationship.

There is much to be thankful for no matter what our challenges are. Look around you and see the beauty in the day, even the rain here in New Mexico today (because we need the rain as always!). What each of us has in our lives to be grateful for will be different because we all have unique lives. 

Each morning make a list of as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for. And then do it every morning after. Try to write them down if you can because when you're in a difficult place you can reflect back on them and retrain your brain to keep the positive thoughts.

Thinking about the good makes us feel stronger, gives us more peace, and helps us feel hopeful. Think of it this way: no matter what you're going through, there is always a small fire burning inside you. It's your goal to remind yourself that the fire is still burning. How will you do it?