Do you allow yourself to be honest about what you’re truly feeling, especially what sucks and why? Something I hear all the time is akin to toxic positivity: toxic gratitude. And this, my friends, is preventing you from really noticing and acknowledging the tiny moments of magic that exist in your everyday life.
This week, I’m sharing a gratitude practice that I’ve recently incorporated into my life and what I’ve discovered from doing so. If your default brain is anything like mine, where it’s constantly seeking out the problems and what needs to be fixed, and it feels like your brain is doing this especially so on your weight loss journey, I invite you to try on this practice too.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 67.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, Master Certified coach, Natalie Brown.
Hello everybody. Anybody into TikTok? I’m not, but my husband is big time. His ADD brain loves the overstimulation and the short bursts of info and noise and he loves sharing things he learns or things that he thinks are funny with my family and I.
We have a family group chat that if you scroll through, you would see is heavily populated with his TikTok shares. My contributions to this group chat by contrast are very me. Mostly directives and information about events and need to know items, and pictures of our pets doing cute things that are very important for everyone to see.
And our kids are mostly just rolling their eyes at both of us through text. So just a little window into my world for you. Anyway, one of the TikToks my husband shared inspired today’s podcast. So you can thank him for this goodness.
Obviously from the title you can glean that I want to talk about gratitude. But I want to start by clearing the air of a problem I hear all the time, which is what I refer to as toxic gratitude. Akin to toxic positivity, where the belief is that we must always maintain a positive attitude no matter what.
Toxic gratitude sounds like, “Things are hard right now, but they could be worse, and I have so much to be grateful for. Life sucks but I know I’m so blessed and I shouldn’t complain.” When we do this, when we minimize or color our pain differently in service of showing gratitude or being grateful, we don’t get the impact of either.
We don’t get the opportunity to allow ourselves to be honest about where we are, or fully experience and understand what we are feeling, what sucks and why, because we’re trying to sweep it under the rug so we can be grateful. But when we do that, we then take away from the pure and simple pleasure and gift of feeling authentically grateful. It’s murky, it’s mixed up.
We need to separate the two experiences. Allowing ourselves to be honest about things sucking. We don’t have to stay in the suck forever, but acknowledging that we are there, accepting the reality that that is how we are feeling based on how we are choosing to think, it’s a powerful gift we can give ourselves and is a necessary step that facilitates us being able to move on.
And then allowing the flip side of the coin to just be the flip side of the coin. We don’t have to be grateful. We get to be grateful authentically because we create a separate space for it to exist. Not contingent on anything else.
I watched a movie recently called The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, which I really liked. And it really got me thinking. I won’t spoil any of it for you, but I’ll share a couple of quotes I loved that kind of capture the concept in the movie that got me thinking.
The first quote, “Most of life is just junk. It’s filler. And then there’s these moments when all of the randomness turns into something perfect.” Another related quote I loved was this, “It’s true that we are losing time every day, all the time, until one day it’s all gone. But you’re gaining it too. Every second, perfect moments, one after the other, until by the end, you have your whole life.”
The main characters in essence start a quest to collect these tiny perfect moments. But it starts with noticing that they are happening. We go through our lives and there are big things that stand out. Big milestones and accomplishments and happenings that we remember. But those are few and far between compared to the day-to-day magic that is all around and in us.
This movie got me thinking about and opening my eyes to that more. Something I’ve been trying to do but this just kind of shifted it in a little bit of a different way. The tiny perfect moments, the gifts throughout my day, the magic in the mundane. I’ve made a concerted effort to seek them out, to see them and acknowledge them, and I am amazed at how often I’m amazed.
At how often I am seeing and noticing little bits of magic all around me. My brain’s default setting is to notice the problems and what needs to be fixed. I am an expert at that. The noticing what is working and how to appreciate the things that just are, that has been something I am expanding my capability on.
One of the unintended consequences of my concerted effort to do this is seeing it open up my eyes and my heart to even more. What we seek we find more of, right? One of the ways that really this stood out to me recently is in my relationship with my husband.
I have, for some of my almost 25-year marriage, focused on what needs fixing about him. As you can guess, that was not great for the relationship. Looking for and seeing the problems. The reason we are still together and happy is that for the rest of the time, most of my marriage, the majority of the days of my marriage, I have chosen to focus on how to contribute to it, show up how I want to, and accept him as he is.
I still get annoyed. I still feel frustration. I still don’t love everything. Don’t be fooled. Relationships look like a mix of annoyance and adoration. But I choose to show up with love and love him through the mix. My husband is amazing at a lot of things. That was actually, believe it or not, something that used to annoy me.
He’s good at almost everything he tries the first time. He wins at every game, including the loving unconditionally and being selfless game, which I am not winning any championships at. One of the things he’s not amazing at, hand washing dishes. He’s just not as detail oriented as I am.
And so most of the time, when I get out a pan that he has used, washed, and put away, I have to wash it again before I use it. Annoying. I certainly choose to think so a lot of the time. But here’s what stood out as a contrast to me recently I think as a result of me looking for the magic and feeling more gratitude daily.
I pulled out a pan to use that was not thoroughly cleaned, and I smiled. I was like, of course, because cleaning the dishes like I want them to be cleaned, not his strong suit. But what jumped to my mind at the same time, all the tiny perfect things about him that I’ve been focusing on most of the time.
He has strengths that I really admire and I appreciate outside of this one little thing that I don’t. There’s more than one, but there’s just this little one. And I love all of that other stuff so much more than this annoys me. Oh, and by the way, this doesn’t have to annoy me. I can smile at it and move on, clearly, proven this to myself.
Just a reminder, this is not a PSA to encourage toxic positivity in your relationship. Loving everything about your partner all the time, no matter what, that’s not what I’m talking about here. This is just simply an anecdote that stood out to me as evidence of my gratitude practice making a difference without me even trying.
So now we are here full circle, back to the TikTok he sent me that inspired this. It was a snippet of Trevor Moawad talking about the impact of negativity. He shared the results of a study that found that negativity is four to seven times more powerful than positivity. Crazy, right? Four to seven times more powerful.
Even crazier is the fact that when you say something out loud, it’s 10 times more powerful than if you just think it. So if you’re saying something negative out loud, it’s 40 to 70 times more powerful. That much more likely to make an impact that will happen or the result you create will not be good for you. Intense, right?
I’ve noticed myself that there’s a huge difference between what it’s like to think something in my mind, compared to writing it down and seeing it or reading it with my eyes, or hearing it with my ears. The more senses we can involve in the process, the better.
It requires different areas of your brain to process and comprehend what you see and read and what you hear. So it’s like looking at it from different angles and getting a different perspective when we interact with our thoughts outside of our mind in these different ways.
This study that quantified the impact of our thoughts spoken out loud compared to the thoughts just existing solely in our heads kind of blew my mind. I started to think about it in the context of this tiny perfect things practice I’ve recently embraced.
And I thought, if it’s making the difference I am seeing just living inside my head, imagine if I acknowledge these things out loud. Imagine the impact if I not only notice and think about the magic and feel the gratitude, but if I say it out loud.
I’ve been consciously thinking various version of this thought, “My life is so good. I have such a great life.” What little magic happens around me, I take a deep breath and I lean into the belief, “My life is so good. I have such a great life.” Believing this, even in my head as I have shared, has shifted something and opened my mind and heart up to the feeling of gratitude more often than anything else I’ve employed in the recent past.
And I’m talking recent few years. Consistently and intentionally looking for, seeking out, noticing, and acknowledging the tiny perfect things has reinforced the belief that my life is so good. A positive thought loop is just as possible as the negative ones that are oh so familiar. Did you know that?
Instead of a shame spiral that creates more eating and then more shame about the overeating, which leads to more eating, I’m looking for magic, I’m seeing it, I’m feeling gratitude about it, and seeing more of it. So I wanted to experiment with the power of saying it out loud, but here’s what happened.
The acknowledgement happening in my head was one thing. Me proclaiming it out loud, even just to myself, my life is so good, I’ll be honest, it felt a little awkward. It’s like I can fully believe it in my head. That’s where I want it to stay.
Letting it out felt like telling a secret. I’m not sure why. Maybe it felt a little braggy, or like the magic gratitude bubble would burst if I exposed it to the air outside my head. I don’t know. But I started by just mouthing it in my car by myself. I just mouthed it. No sound.
And I thought about the ways that that was true. My life is so good. The next time, I experimented with whispering it, very quietly. Still by myself in my car where I knew no one would hear me. And hearing it, even in quietly whispered form was different.
So how might we apply this to weight loss? How could we implement the power of seeking out tiny perfect magic and experience the resulting feeling of gratitude along our weight loss journey in combination with the impact of speaking it out loud? And how could that change our experience and our results?
We spend so much time nitpicking our bodies and being frustrated with our brains for taking so long to change. It may feel nearly impossible to you to find and feel gratitude right now. But start where I always recommend you start, where you are. Start tiny.
You don’t have to be all in on loving your body unconditionally and loving everything about it in order to see some tiny perfect magic and generate some gratitude. Start even in general terms. Can you just be grateful to be alive?
I am so grateful to have a body that lives. I’m so grateful that I woke up this morning. I’m so grateful for the legs that walk me around this world. And that I have feet that balance. I was thinking about that after I worked out the other day. I was standing on one leg, stretching the quad muscle of my other leg without holding on to anything.
I was just balancing like a flamingo. I was feeling my foot and toes make these tiny little adjustments to keep me upright, and I was like, I’m not even trying. My body just knows how to do this. It’s so amazing to me.
Now, once again, separate out what’s hard and what’s not working from what is. We don’t need to mix these two things together. We don’t need murky toxic gratitude. That will not be helpful. We don’t need to always be like, yeah, I’m glad I’m alive but barely. And I’m grateful my legs move, but they don’t move fast enough, or they don’t look like I want them to.
Separate the two. Even if it’s the tiniest and most general thing you can find to appreciate about your body, look for it, seek it out, choose to acknowledge it, and speak it out loud. Or start with a whisper like I did. And choose to notice the impact it has on your life and how you feel.
And it doesn’t have to be your body, it can be anything, but try it, experiment with it. Start noticing some tiny perfect magic for you. Okay everybody, have an amazing week. I’ll see you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.