One of the many reasons my head initially exploded was that my mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma a few years ago, and in the awful November of 2013 announced that she was too sick to travel to see us for Christmas. My world collapsed. She is still going strong, relatively, but between then and now, knowing she is nearing the end has meant I have been living in suspended grief - sad, missing her, but not able to fully grieve her and move on.
That kind of perpetual sadness and loss takes its toll. I lost two dear friends in the first year of being ill. Both were mothers around my age with children the same ages as my children. and attending their funerals within the fog of pain and mental illness was horrendous - but also strangely cathartic. It felt oddly real and natural to feel an emotional pain that had a distinctive external cause, rather than the emotional hell my own mind was putting me through. Mutual friends were worried about me, but were comforted by seeing that I was OK - I cried with them, and we mourned the passing of our wonderful friends. It was particularly heartbreaking watching the children at the funerals - children the same age as my own. When I often felt suicidal that image - of motherless children crying - brought me up short.
I then lost a schoolfriend to MS and have just lost another friend to epilepsy - both sudden deaths that happened too young, shocking and heartbreaking, not least for their mothers. Perhaps the only thing more heartbreaking that watching young children bury a mother is watching a mother bury a child.
Other minor griefs have happened recently, losing an old dog and a young cat. Family pets become such a part of your life and your emotional network that losing them hurts almost as much as losing human friends, sometimes.
Throughout this loss I have found comfort and sadness in the memories, in knowing how they touched people's lives, the legacy they left. And, selfishly, in feeling a deep sense of pain and loss that was rational and right, and not the product of a horrendous mental illness.
PTSD robs you of yourself. You are triggered into acting in ways you can't control by events you cannot predict. At its worst it is terrifying because you have no way of knowing if the horror will ever end or if you will be trapped inside psychosis, self harm, anger and fear forever. You are terrified you will hurt yourself or worse, hurt those around you. Some days the only way out seems to be through that door marked exit in your dreams.
Grief, in a curious way, gives you yourself back. You are forced to confront your own regrets, pain and difficult feelings. In the early days you find yourself in tears without realising why, and the pain is physical. Having a rite of passage - in our society a funeral - is important. It helps us feel the pain together, connects the living in their memories, allows us to cry. And whilst the pain of losing a dear one never goes away completely, we do heal, and move on, and find ways of living with our grief. At least, we do if we acknowledge it. If we allow ourselves to feel the pain, and cry, and miss them. That is a very mindful approach to things: not to shy away, or ignore powerful feelings, but to let ourselves feel them, share them, acknowledge them for what they are. Grief teaches us humanity, and comfort, and also that we can survive immense pain.
So soon I will be burying my friend, and my cat, and letting myself cry and feel sad. Safe in the knowledge that this rite of passage is not something insane: it is something deeply, incontrovertibly sane, right, and 'normal'.
In remembrance of Rona, Ailsa, Rachel, Kate, Geri and Bobby. Rest in peace, with mountains and sisters and rabbits and mice, and here in this realm we will remember you with love.
So, after 26 years of working as an academic looking at gender, disability, health and social care, I have decided to run for Parliament for the Women's Equality Party to highlight the failure of the mainstream parties to properly support social care and carers and disabled people, as well as tackle violence against women and equal pay.
This is a strange and so far eventful journey and we are only a week into my campaign. I have discovered the backstabbing tribalism of politics first-hand, as well as the barriers to running for Parliament faced by women and disabled people. Did you know that until the Women's Equality Party, no political party had asked the Electoral Commission how to count support for childcare or personal assistance as part of the spending limits on campaigns?
No, neither did I. I knew that it was going to take 50 years without positive action to see equal numbers of men and women in parliament, I knew that less than a third of elected representatives in the UK were women, I knew that women in public office faced an onslaught of criticism for their looks, their weight, their parenting and so on that men did not face.
But I hadn't quite appreciated what it felt like to be a disabled woman running for office. How alien the transition from academic/activist to politician would feel. How heart-rendingly personal and exciting it would be.
And how much I would appreciate my mindfulness training at the end of every hard day spent trying to juggle work, campaigning and family life, when I would sit or lie down to refocus my mind on my breath and my body rather than on the million and one things I was supposed to be doing. How I had to remind myself every hour in different ways to be kind and compassionate - not to my opponents, but to myself. And how human and frail I was, yet again.
You can follow my campaign here: ://www.facebook.com/KirsteinRummeryWEP/
I hope you will forgive me if I blog a little less frequently in the next couple of weeks. I am sure I will be given plenty of opportunities to practise mindfulness and loving kindness, and plenty of opportunities to forget to practise it and go full-on bonkers batshit.
See you on the other side, my lovelies, and remember if you are feeling despair at the state of the world, there is always something you can do to fix it. Even if that is simply voting for a candidate from a small but passionate party trying to stir up politics. in the interest of women's equality :)
So I have now completed the first part of my mindfulness teacher training, and I have a worryingly shiny looking certificate to prove it. I still have to complete my case study and assessment, but the hands-on training is over.
Gosh. What a scary and exciting prospect that is!
I have just spent an intensive and exhausting week in the company of fellow trainees, learning more than my brain and body can really take in. It was taught experientially, so in some ways it was like a week long retreat. And that posed several challenges for me.
One was physical. The stress of travelling and being in unfamiliar surroundings set off a huge fibromyalgia flare, which is challenging at the best of times. When you add to that the amount of time spent sitting in formal practice, by day 4 I was in agony. Day 4 was of course a series of silent guided meditations reinforcing our practice. By the third session of tuning in to what my senses were telling me and settling my mind, my senses were screaming EVERYTHING BLOODY HURTS I ALREADY TOLD YOU THIS WHY AREN'T YOU LISTENING???
So when it came to the mindful movement exercises, the yoga stretches and the outdoors mindful walking, I was so relieved I got very emotional and had a little cry.
The other challenge came from my fellow trainees. I am a bit of an empath and I pick up on emotions and energy in the room coming from other people. And there were a LOT of emotions in the room. Some were easy to handle: curiosity, nervousness, fear, openness. Some were incredibly challenging: anger, grief, frustration, resistance.
I have no idea why I expected a room full of potential mindfulness teachers to be an oasis of happy, calm, loving people. Why would it be? We are all human. We all find situations where we are out of our comfort zone challenging. Just because *I* find mindfulness immensely therapeutic and empowering doesn't mean *they* do, or that they did on that particular day. Some had expectations of the teaching that were barriers to them. Some were coming at it from a different therapeutic background - adding to their professional training as counsellors, hypnotherapists, NLP trainers, coaches, mental health workers and so on. For them it was part of a professional journey and not necessarily coming from a place of personal practice.
I struggled, really struggled, with the idea of some of those people teaching mindfulness.
But then *I* really struggled to LEARN mindfulness. I tried at least 5 times, and it didn't come easily to me. It still doesn't. And everyone takes their own path to mindfulness, and every teacher is unique. Whilst I might find being taught by some of my fellow trainees challenging, other people might welcome their approach. And I am sure a lot of people will struggle with the way *I* will teach it, because it will be based on my own practice and personality, and quite simply they might not connect to that.
I learned just as much from my fellow trainees as I did from the teachers. Ideas that I will shamelessly steal from the ones who felt and thought like me. Ideas on how to deal with and teach people who *don't* feel and think like me. Ideas on things and practices I personally will never, ever use even if they are theoretically part of the curriculum. Ideas that I will definitely use, and adapt, and probably overuse because they spoke powerfully to me. Things that were missing for me, things that were overemphasised, things that were easy, things that were challenges.
The biggest challenge for me actually wasn't the mindfulness teaching per se, it was the session on how to market ourselves and what prices to charge for our services. This came really easily to people who were already self employed and had some kind of therapeutic or coaching experience. It was *completely* alien to me. I still have no idea what my teaching is really 'worth', but time will tell.
We are all human and different, and thank heavens for that. If everyone taught and felt and thought the same we would be robots that would be obsolete in no time.
I am glad to be home and in my own bed, though, and I don't care if that is a value judgement. My bed *is* better and nicer than hotel beds! :)
After practising mindfulness for three years I am starting to share it, individually and in groups. For me it has been such a powerful tool to keep me sane and able to cope with pain that I wanted to learn how to share it, so I started the path towards becoming a mindfulness teacher.
It's VERY different from my day job as an academic. Instead of imparting knowledge, I am trying to support people on their own journey. I don't have the answers, but I have to training to help people find their own answers. People often come to mindfulness when they are in a difficult period of their lives, and for someone who is fairly empathetic like me, it involves a big emotional investment in reading people's feelings rather than reading their understanding.
It means I need to go to sleep after each teaching session because I am emotionally exhausted.
But it also means it is an immense privilege to be sharing this with people. I love taking part in the journey everyone takes in each session: each person, each group and each occasion is unique. What unites us is a desire to practice mindfulness, to learn, and to engage with ourselves and others.
Every time I teach and share mindfulness I re-examine my own practice and learn something new. In that respect it is EXACTLY like my academic teaching: my students always teach me far more than I teach them.
I am just starting teaching mindfulness and I certainly couldn't do it full-time, I would have to sleep for a year :) But it is an exciting part of my life and I am immensely grateful to those who are sharing this journey with me. I would strongly encourage anyone who is practising mindfulness to share it with people: to support drop-in groups, to evangelise about it, and to introduce new people to it.
You will get back tenfold what you give out.
I was brought up a Christian - and not just any kind of Christian, a born-again evangelical Christian, no stranger to tambourines, proselytising or speaking in tongues. My parents were even missionaries for a while. I rebelled against this as soon as I was old enough to discover feminism and science, but churches and Christianity still inform much of my spiritual and cultural experiences. Good Friday was always a key day in the Christian calendar for us, a day where we remembered the crucifixion and death of Jesus,. Having a coffee with a friend, she mentioned her German partner did not understand why in English we refer to the day when Christ was crucified as 'Good' Friday. And he has a point. It wasn't, presumably, a very good day for Jesus. Wouldn't it make more sense to call it 'Torture And Painful Death Friday'?
How could we look at this day, so significant in the Christian calendar, mindfully? Mindfulness has its roots not in Christianity but in Buddhism, a very different tradition. In mindfulness, after all, we try to observe our own feelings and experiences without judgement, without labelling them as 'good' or 'bad'. So, whilst dying a painful death at the hands of Romans isn't 'good' for the person dying, it represents a huge personal sacrifice for the greater good. Christ died, Christians are taught, to save us all from our sins.
We learn repeatedly as we train in mindfulness that its benefits are not just to ourselves. By learning to calm our frazzled minds, and demonstrating the possibilities and strength of compassion, we create calmness and loving kindness around us. Whilst taking time to focus on ourselves sometimes feels like a selfish act, particularly to those of us used to caring for others, it is not really. We can only care for others if we take care of ourselves.
So how do we interpret the sacrifice made on the cross? As Jesus died for our sins, he was not really exercising self care. But he was thinking beyond himself. Sir Robert Winston once said that the reason early man survived was the growth of religious belief: it gave us reason to look beyond ourselves and our own corporeal reality and limitations, to believe in things bigger than ourselves and to take risks that might result in our deaths knowing that there was something beyond us worth dying for. People sacrifice their lives in wartime for their countries, for their beliefs, to protect their families and loved ones all the time. Hopefully, few of us will be called upon to sacrifice their lives to found a world religion - there are already enough of those. But whilst mindfulness encourages us to live in the moment and our personal experience, it also helps us see our own feelings as fleeting and not all encompassing.
All the major world religions can be summarised in a set of teachings that basically boils down to: be nice to other people, live well together, and don't be a dick. Only by embracing these central tenets of what it is to be human, and by going beyond our own interests and experiences, can we truly appreciate the meaning of the 'Good' Friday, and we don't need to be a Christian to do it. Behaving in the interest of the greater good starts with behaving in the interest of our own good - our own mental health and connection to others.
So take a moment today to be good to yourself, to live in and experience the moment, to allow the busy thoughts and emotions that drive you to rest: and in doing so you can find the resources and strength to be good to others.
When my therapist suggested I try mindfulness my initial reaction was a flat No - mostly because I have been a political fighter all my life and I didn't like the idea of 'mindfully' accepting injustice.
This is, I now realise, a misrepresentation of what mindfulness is. Whilst you strive daily to learn and practice compassion and presence, that does not mean looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses, or choosing to accept rather than change it.
Rather, you learn, slowly but surely, to observe the world with a clear, compassionate head, rather than one which is ruled by your triggers and immediate emotional responses to things. As a social policy academic I have spent a long time researching inequality, particularly as visited upon and experienced by women, disabled people and older people. And I used to get really REALLY cross about it. As a dear friend and academic colleague once said in her professorial inaugural lecture 'If you work in my field <media representation of women and pornography> and you AREN'T angry, then you really haven't been paying attention.'
In particular, I used to get outraged every time I tried to discuss things like poverty and inequality with those on the political right, who have a very different outlook on these things than I do. How could they not SEE what was right in front of them? How could they not interpret the evidence the way I did? Did they just not CARE????
Now, some of the nicest people and my closest friends are Tories. They are my friends not because we share political or ideological beliefs (we don't, and they are wrong....) but because they will hold my hair back when I am puking and help me bury the bodies under the patio. In short, they DO care, about me, and I care deeply about them. They are one of the many reasons I get impatient with political tribalism - the idea that anyone not in your political party is scum, by definition. It's the main thing wrong with Scottish and leftwing politics, in my opinion.
Bu Tories and right wingers do genuinely believe that people who experience poverty need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and stop relying on 'handouts'. And I genuinely believe, (after decades of research mind you) that structural issues account for about 90% of poverty and inequality and it is those we need to tackle for a fairer, happier society.
But I have also learned, the hard way sometimes, that engaging in these political battles for social justice with a hot head and an angry heart gets us nowhere. I can observe injustice and fight it more effectively (and with less toll on my own mental and physical health) if I remember that we are all mortal and frail, and we all have our own burdens and pain to bear - but also that MOST of us are good at heart and mean well.
Some of us are not. Some of us are evil, wicked, exploitative, dangerous, violent, greedy and blind to our own faults, happy to benefit from the abuse of others and our own lucky birthright. There seem to be an awful lot of those kind of people in power at the moment and it is even harder to fight for social justice when they are.
I do not think for a moment that we need to simply accept what these people do, often in our names. But I do think we need to understand their beliefs and motivations in order to engage with them, and I think we need to accept that those beliefs and motivations are different to our own.
So I can look with compassion on rich people, people who hunt foxes, people who hate foreigners, people who abuse others, people who are right-wing whilst fighting the injustice they create in the world, and whilst knowing, with the deepest of loving-kindness, that they are WRONG.
And I, of course, am right.
Like many people - particularly women - I am not very good at publicising or being proud of my own achievements. I think I learned this early on, when as a child every achievement was brushed off and boastfulness was considered 'getting above yourself' - the ultimate sin. I don't recall my parents ever once congratulating me on anything.
So when it is pointed out that I have accomplished something and I am complimented on it, I have a tendency to blush and change the subject. Many women in my profession do - we are notoriously bad at publicising and celebrating our achievements, which is often why they are overlooked or ignored.
But this week I found out I have been appointed a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. This is a big honour in my profession - you have to be nominated by a Fellow or by a Learned Society, and it is considered quite an achievement. On the one hand, as a lefty egalitarian I am suspicious of elites. On the other hand, as an academic I believe in recognising merit and impact. So whilst it was squirmy it also made me feel tremendously honoured that my discipline thought my work was worth highlighting.
And, after all, why shouldn't I be proud? If you google me with my professional hat on it's easy to see I have done some interesting work, and made a difference to policy and practice, particularly in the field of community care. My research has been used to improve services and support for disabled people and carers and I *am* justifiably proud of that.
At the same time it feels odd - like I have been asked to join the adults at the top table when I really don't have a clue how to hold a knife and fork properly. 'Imposter syndrome' is a well known psychological issue amongst academics, particularly women academics. As we work in a highly competitive intellectual environment, we constantly feel like we don't belong there and are going to get found out.
I went to my first international social policy conference as a young, idealistic postgraduate who was completely gobsmacked by the fact that people whose work I had read, admired and cited were actually standing in front of me on the stage - and worse, in the lunch queue! But nothing quite prepared me for a fire alarm at 4am in the residence and seeing one of my heroes in his pyjamas and bare feet, hair on end, swearing bad temperdly at being woken up and having to evacuate the building.
My heroes were HUMAN! They ate, and breathed and slept and got bad tempered!!
I am part of a mentoring scheme for early career women, and the most important thing I do there is not talk to them about publishing, or research, or teaching, or how to get ahead, or how to have the perfect CV. The most important thing I do to inspire younger women is simply be my flawed self - to admit I find juggling an academic career and a young family a challenge, to admit I overworked and had a nervous breakdown and I still struggle, to not hide the fact that I limp and drop my books and sometimes completely forget what it was I was going to say in a lecture in front of 2,000 people.
Because we are all human and frail and showing others that you can be human and frail and nevertheless succeed is very important. I would go further and say I succeed BECAUSE I am human and frail: because, as a social scientists, I understand and empathise with what goes wrong in people's lives because of social, political and economic forces beyond their control.
So, yes, I deserve the accolades and the honour: not because I am special or particularly wonderful, but because I am NOT special or wonderful. Just clever, hardworking, and good at my job.
I still struggle to be mindful about my success: to view it as it is, as a feature of my life, not something I need to get caught up in being proud or ashamed of. I particularly struggle with congratulating myself.
So, thank you to the Social Policy Society for nominating me and thank you to the Academy of Social Sciences for accepting me into your elite ranks. I worked bloody hard and I do deserve it. <blushes>
Take a moment to think about something you have done well. Have you been a kind, good friend to someone, have you achieved something difficult, have you done well at work, have you made your family feel loved?
Then take a moment to say: well done you. You deserve praise. And you don't need to be ashamed of boasting: we should all boast a little sometimes and remind ourselves that we are fabulous and deserve to have that recognised.
So well done me :)
Yesterday was Mother's Day in the UK and it is a day that induces mixed feelings in me. As a mum I love the handwritten cards and poems, the haphazard and frankly sometimes dangerous breakfasts in bed, and the mild panic on the face of the teenager who's forgotten.
But I appreciate that it is a tough day for those who weren't lovingly mothered, or who have lost their mothers, or who wanted to, and cannot, be mothers, or have lost their children. Surrounded by hyped up joy and adverts it must be like Christmas for depressed turkeys at times.
When I was a young, fit, sane mother, juggling babies and a career and a marriage and friends and feeling on top of the world, I seemed to thrive on very little sleep. I had the blessing of my first child being on the autistic spectrum, which meant he was unusually placid and peaceful and self-contained, which meant I was able to learn how to be a placid, peaceful, self-contained mother. When I had my 'neurotypical' second boy, who started trying to climb things and fall off things as soon as he could move, although it was a surprise, I had learned the all important lesson of how to trust my instincts that does not come easily with your first child. And when my gorgeous girl arrived, I was happy to leave her on the car roof by accident as I attempted to strap a hyperactive toddler, a sensory issued Aspie and my own crutches into the car....(oops!) Although I spent a lot of time with my children (in between a full time job) I became adept at mult-tasking and not really listening to them. To a certain extent when you have three children this is a necessary life skill for survival - you cannot really engage in all the potential squabbles whilst driving and stay alive for very long.
But it was only when I started to practice mindfulness whilst at the same time trying to keep my multi-tasking and distraction manageable (my coping mechanisms had become my demons) that I learned to really slow down and listen and engage with my children.
I can now tell you all you (n)ever needed to know about who is 'in' and who is 'out' amongst primary 7 schoolgirls, how to build a successful team in Fifa, and why poor old Pluto got downgraded from a planet.
And it is lovely, albeit disconcerting at times, to be able to connect and listen and learn from my children. Mindfulness is also a very useful skill - and I am thinking of the 3 minute breathing exercise in particular - when you are moments from having the biggest tantrum in your life because if you get ONE MORE SASSY COMEBACK AFTER YOU HAVE ASKED THEM THREE TIMES POLITELY TO DO THEIR CHORES you will explode and put the whole bloody lot of them on the naughty step regardless of the fact that they are taller than you.
But mindfulness is not just about being a connected and compassionate parent. It is also about learning to accept and live with your mistakes and foibles, being compassionate to yourself, and accepting your own mother as the flawed person she is. Being able to recognise grief and anger and tension and frustration and resentment - all of which are part of a relationship between a mother and her children - and welcome them in as part of the glorious frailty and wonderfulness of the human condition is something that is hard to learn but mindfulness can help us get there..
My own mother was the victim of domestic abuse, and her abuser abused me. I grew up with a dysfunctional childhood that left me with scars that I am still recovering from and may never be fully free of. My mother did not protect me particularly well, nor did she make me feel loved or safe. As an adult I can understand and forgive her for that, but as someone who still struggles with the fallout of not being loved and protected as I grew up, I still wonder why I didn't deserve that.
We all need to feel loved and protected, and we all need to *love* and protect others. Mothering comes in many forms and it isn't always from your mother. All over the world are millions of parents, step-parents, kin, foster parents and others who nurture, love and protect youngsters in the way a mother should. And even if you weren't lovingly mothered, you can still lovingly mother.
So happy mindful mother's day to all the 'mothers' out there, may you find peace and strength and joy in your role, and know for sure that the world would be awful without you.
I was born in London and I lived and worked there for several years. I know Westminster and have personally worked with MPs and civil servants who were caught up in yesterday's attacks. I even went to school with Tobias Ellwood, the heroic MP for Eastbourne who tried to save the fallen police officer. So yesterday's attacks hit home to me in the same way as those in Paris, Berlin and many other places have.
When I took to social media to find out what was happening there was shock and outrage, as was to be expected. An attack on Parliament is an attack on the nation itself, it is political and personal.
But I also very quickly found the Blitz spirit that characterised my time in London. I remember several bomb threats back then and thinking, right, so that's means this station is closed, how do I get to work a different way? Never once did it occur to any of us to stop living, working and playing in one of the most multi-cultural and exciting cities in the world. Whatever the danger, a light falling of snow was probably going to shut the city down more effectively than terrorism.
What also struck me was the compassion and solidarity shown by nearly everyone. The passers by helping the injured, off duty medics leaping in, nurses and doctors running from the hospital to the scene....and the calmness, the stoicism, the care. The senior police officer who took particular care to mention how vulnerable Muslim communities could be feeling. The MPs and civil servants who stayed calm and ensured that visitors felt safe. The school children who sang to cheer everyone up.
This is my home city at its best. And the malicious xenophobes who sought to make political capital out of this, who sought to stir up fear and hatred?
I can view them with mindful detachment. I can see their anger and fear but I won't engage in the hatred they want me to. I am angry with them, yes, and I will use all my political energy to ensure they don't get their way, but I will not respond to hatred with more hatred.
This week marks the death of Martin McGuinness, a familiar bogeyman from my youth whose supporters were often responsible for my early experiences of terrorism in London. A man who found it within himself to do one of the bravest things we can ever do: to forgive his enemies, to move on from oppression and hatred and revenge and sit down and make peace for the sake of his community. Far braver than I could be in his circumstances.
It take courage to be compassionate, it takes practice to not let ourselves be overwhelmed by hatred and fear, to be mindful, to recognise our emotions and vulnerabilities, and to engage with the world from a place of loving-kindness. We have to practice it over and over again because it is easy to forget and unlearn.
And that is why I practice mindfulness, over, and over, and over again, every day. Because that is the only way I know how not to give in to the anger and the fear and the hatred.
When I had my first bout of what I now realise was PTSD in my early twenties, my counsellor told me to write down a list of everything I was grateful for. At the time I was in a really, really bad place and could only think - if I could come up with ONE thing I was grateful for I wouldn't need to be here!
I was young and daft - I thought I was being asked to do a stupid and facile thing. But what that counsellor knew was that gratitude is a really powerful thing. Research shows that each time we feel grateful for something, however small, it produces profound measurable effects on our brain: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/01/how-expressing-gratitude-change-your-brain.html. Over time this produces increases in happiness and wellbeing, and reductions in depression and anxiety.
Isn't that amazing??
The thing is, it isn't the 'count your blessings' approach that many well-meaning people taken when trying to help someone suffering from depression or anxiety. This is awful, and one of my top-ten hated phrases. It implies that your feelings are not real, and certainly in the cases of clinical depression and anxiety disorders can lead to a spiral of guilt and self-blame which makes the problem worse, not better.
It is more that taking time each day - or more than once a day - to find things to be grateful and experience gratitude releases serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin, the 'happy chemicals' that over time help your brain function and make you feel well. And it doesn't need to be big - in fact, it can be better to be small. Be grateful for the chair you are sitting in, for the flowers, for the rain, for the sun, for your breakfast, for a smile, for the bus arriving, for your car starting, literally *anything*, your brain can't really tell the difference.
Writing it down helps a lot. I found that by keeping a daily note of the things I was grateful for helped me remember them, and smile. And re-reading the list later made me smile again, so I got an extra dose of happy without even having to think of anything new.
Now, the lazy person's guide to happiness? I'm all for that.
Take time to find something to be grateful for every day and over time your brain will literally help you be, and stay, happy and mentally well. And this can be used alongside many other tools, like meditation, diet, exercise, drugs, talking therapies and so on, that can help you get, and stay, well, giving you *some* control over your mental health. Those of us who struggle with mild and serious mental health issues know only too well how easy it is to lose that sense of control and wellbeing, and how important it is in recovering and living well.
So, DO think of, and be grateful for, your blessings. Some days, in the depths of my darkest depression and PTSD, I would be grateful that I had managed to get out of bed and dressed - it felt like climbing Mount Everest. But I am really glad I did it.
What are YOU grateful for today?
I came to mindfulness through trying to find a way to be sane and compassionate in an insane and harsh world.