This is not an uncommon occurrence in my home in the evenings - "Mom, I'm so bored" and "this is the worst day ever" or "we never do anything fun". The backdrop is of course, that we had playdates, made hot chocolate, played a game of cards etc, but none of this is remembered in the moment. We are hard-wired to remember and hold onto what is hard and bad and essentially, a threat to our survival. This is part of the survival mechanisms that we are born with. Fight, flight or freeze; survival of the fittest; defense strategies; etc. These are all functions of how we stay alive. So my children complaining of a hard moment or unfair circumstance in a day that is overall good, is what they are biologically programmed to do. And I therefore shouldn't be surprised. This is where mindfulness and gratitude come into play. Because we are intelligent humans, we have the capacity to override our biological urges and make choices that take effort and intentionality but ultimately make life more enjoyable. Since we do not live in a state of being physically threatened most days, we can shift our attention to what is going well and what there is to be grateful for. Our bodies are the place where we can hold onto these good moments in our days. By taking a few breaths and sitting with the present moment of goodness, our bodies (neuropathways and even cells) feel and take in the positive sensation. The by-product of this is a lower heart rate, more relaxed breathing, a quieting of the mind and a filling up in our hearts and chests. As we practice this holding onto the good, we get better at it and we notice it more. It's a positive cycle that has no limit to how much we can receive and take in.
So today, try taking a few breaths and holding on to whatever good moment(s) are part of your day. It will help give you strength, perspective and resilience for when the inevitable hard moments come.
Kimberly Simpson, a native of New Jersey, graduate of Wheaton College and resident of Nashville. Married and mother of three children. Lover of the ocean, gardens, yoga, cooking and travel.