Life can be scary and difficult, but remembering to be grateful for what you have can help keep you happy even during the darkest of times.
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Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi Emma.
Emma: Hi Brittany.
Brittany: So the world can be a very unpredictable and scary place sometimes, and I think especially now, I think that’s what 2020 and 2021 has taught us. And it’s really, really easy to be negative and to kind of dwell in this, oh my goodness, life is so hard, you know, especially if you were a student who maybe had to stop going to school in person for a whole year. And it’s just really easy to get negative, especially if you’re listening to the news also. And you know, Connor and I have talked about before, how the government and news people actually like to keep you in fear, right? They like to keep you negative. Yes. Cuz then they can tell you what to do more, kind of bully you. But there’s one tool that you can use to stay positive even during the darkest times. and that can actually like rewire and restructure your brain into being a happier person. And it’s not even a hard skill to learn. And it actually kind of reminds me of a Dumbledore quote that I’m gonna butcher if you’re a Harry Potter fan, that it was like, even in the darkest times, things could be better if one only learns to turn on the light. And I didn’t say that right? But by the light, what I’m taking from that is learn how to be grateful. So that is one thing I think is really important. So that is what I want to talk about today. Emma, do you have any thoughts on that?
Emma: I definitely agree with you. I think learning to be grateful and show gratitude even when, and I would even say, especially when you’re going through hard things, and it can be, you know, the world is a crazy place or maybe there’s stuff going on in your personal life. Everyone deals with trials that is just a given. You know, you’re gonna go through things that are not easy and, and that push you to a place that maybe you don’t like being in. Yeah. But if you can learn to express that gratitude and learn to look at things in a way where you’re finding the positive that can, like you said, Brittany, rewire your brain and actually change the way your brain approaches these problems. But also it makes life a lot more enjoyable to live because we’re never going to live in a, you know, a perfect utopia where everything is perfect all the time. No one’s ever going through anything hard. We know that we’re gonna deal with stuff we don’t like. So learning to, you know, work through that and actually get through it and have these things become a positive, where you get stronger and you learn things is such a valuable thing to know how to do. And I really do think, like you said, Brittany, that all starts with gratitude.
Brittany: Absolutely. And there’s actually, I always like, I’m like, oh, there’s this great article and I’m the one who wrote the article, but once again, there’s this great article which I wrote, that talks about how you can rewire your brain for success and happiness. And so there was actually a study by psychologists, and those are doctors who study the mind, right? So their whole thing is how they can help people have a better quality of life. And they did a bunch of studies where they took people who were depressed. So people who are very sad, but they’re sad because of a cause of something that might be wrong in their brain. Or maybe they had a really hard life, but for some reason, they’re just not as happy as other people. And so they tried a couple of different strategies on how to get them out of this depression they were stuck in. And they found out that the people who were both talking to their therapists about what were bothering them but were also keeping a gratitude journal, they were like exponentially, which means like a whole lot happier than people who were not doing that. And I think that’s really cool. But then they took, and I might, I’m gonna link to the article so hopefully, I don’t, I’m not saying this wrong. I believe they even did like, brain scans and actually saw new, like neural pathways, meaning like, it had actually changed stuff in their brain by just having a better outlook on life. And you hear people say things like that, like, oh, just change your outlook on life. And it sounds so simple that sometimes it makes you angry. I think especially if you’re going through a hard time and someone’s just like, well, think positively. you’re like, you don’t know what I’m going through. You don’t, you know, don’t tell me that. But it really does help. And just to share a personal, you know, experience. So I have a family member who’s going through cancer that may not live right now. And that’s been really hard for me. And so for me to fill out a gratitude journal, which I do every morning, there were days I was like, why should I fill this out? You know, I don’t wanna fill this out. I have nothing to be grateful for. And it’s not huge things. It’s not like I’m grateful that I’m a millionaire cause I’m not. It was things like, I’m grateful that I have blankets on my bed because there are people who don’t. I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head. I’m grateful that I have, you know, friends that when life gets really hard, when I have these problems that I can call and I can say, you know, I’m struggling right now. I’m having a hard time. So it doesn’t have to be these huge things. Like, I’m grateful that I had this great day today cuz all these amazing things happen. you know, maybe it’s, maybe it’s even, I’m grateful that I went through a hard time because now I know that I’m tougher and I know how to get through that. So I don’t know if you have any personal stories or anything you wanna share, Emma?
Emma: Absolutely. I’m moved by that story of you talking about your family members going through something hard, but you’re still choosing to be grateful. I Actually, my little brother was born with a heart defect. Oh my God. And he’s doing fine now. He’s almost done with his senior year, well I guess he’s about to start his senior year of high school. But he had to have a lot of open heart surgery as a child. And that was very,
Brittany: That’s very intense.
Emma: It was really intense. And, you know, growing up we would always be dealing with these things and we are very fortunate to, you know, live in a country where he was able to get the treatment that he needed and actually made this really amazing recovery from that. And learned to even play sports and like keep up with his friends even when doctors didn’t think it would be possible. and looking back now, it’s easy for me to feel very positive about, oh, well he’s fine. It turned out totally fine. But as a kid, I am, let me think about this. I’m about seven years older than him, so you guys can now do the math and figure out how old I am. I’m about seven years older than him. So growing up and seeing that as a kid was really hard. And it made me feel very uncertain and even scared sometimes. But my parents would, you know, I didn’t know what to call it, but they would reassure us, Hey, we have a roof over our heads. We are good, we are covered. And we believe that Henry, that’s my brother’s name. We believe that Henry’s going to be okay and this stuff is scary and it’s hard to go through, but we are all learning how to get through this together. and we did. And he ended up being okay. And there are a lot of people who are not so fortunate where maybe things don’t work out like that. But the I think the people who come out of that in the healthiest place and the best equipped to deal with hard things are the ones who learn to be thankful for the things that they do have. And again, Brittany, you talked about how that’s not always an easy thing Yeah. To hear when you’re in that place. So that’s why I think it’s so important to build that maybe before you go through things like that. Oh,
Brittany: That’s a good point.
Emma: It’s really important to practice this. Maybe if you’re, you’re not there, maybe there’s nothing in your life, hopefully, there’s nothing in your life if you’re listening to this that really is that hard and you’re going through this crazy trial, but learning how to handle things that are difficult when they’re small. If you can build that muscle and rewire your brain to see things positively and to approach things in a way that’s not, you know, whoa is me, everything is going wrong. But that’s what can I do here? How can I grow from this? If you can build that muscle when you’re going through minor trials, when you get to the really big stuff, the really hard stuff with your family and with health and things like that, you’re gonna be so much better prepared to handle that and to deal with that from a healthy place. That’s why it’s so important, especially when you’re young, to really focus on building that. Cuz I consider it a muscle, it’s the more you work it, the more you strengthen it, the better it’s gonna be able to help you when you need it.
Brittany: I’m so glad you said that cuz that’s exactly right. And sometimes when everything’s going well, we don’t think about that, right? when everything’s going well, we’re like, well, what’s gonna, you know, what’s gonna go wrong? Everything’s so great. But you reminded me of a book I love called, there’s no such thing as a dragon, and it’s about a little boy basically, I won’t spoil the story, but it’s about a dragon that nobody can see and tell The dragon gets so big nobody can deal with it. And so what I liked what you said is it’s important to be grateful for things and I highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal while things are going well. That way when you do see a problem, you’re able to kind of see what it is and then realize what you have to be grateful for. And then maybe your situation won’t get so outta hand where you’re overwhelmed with everything going wrong. you’ll be able to see that thing in your life. It’s going well. I pulled a couple of quotes for us to share and I have one for you to share, Emma, if you don’t mind, reading one of them, then I’ll share mine.
Emma: Yes. Here is this quote here. It’s a funny thing about life. Once you begin to take note of the things that you are grateful for, you begin to lose of the things that you lack. I love that.
Brittany: Isn’t that good? And I forgot to say who wrote it. So I will link to the page where I got these, but then I found one that I really liked and that is gratitude turns what we have into enough and more, it turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, which we kind of talked about confusion into clarity and it makes sense of our past and brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. And I thought that was just so good. And I think in addition to making our own lives better, you know, there’s actually kind of an economic lesson in, this is a side note being grateful for what you have means that you’re not envious of what others had. And we talked about just a couple of episodes about, what is it where people think there’s not enough of the pie to go around. Yeah. There’s only so much wealth to go around. Well, a lot of that stems from envy. Yes. A lot of communists and socialists and people who talk about equality, they get angry that other people don’t have or they don’t have what other people have. And this is something Connor and I actually talked about in an episode about Mises and how Mises actually thought that this mindset was like a, almost like a mental illness because it was like you became obsessed with what other people had that you weren’t thankful for what you had. You weren’t looking at what you were able to do because you were letting, you know, jealousy, ruin everything. Yeah. So just imagine what you could do if instead of you were looking around saying like, oh, I don’t have this, I don’t have that. Imagine how much different your life would be if you had this gratitude journal and you had a list of everything you had to be thankful for. And especially even though it helps to get the pen on paper and to write it every day. Sometimes I go through and I go back and I remember times in my life where I was grateful for one specific thing. you know? And so it’s also this kind of this nostalgic thing of, okay, I have this and I have this. Yes. So, yeah, I dunno if you have any thoughts on that, but I love this topic so.
Emma: totally. I love the idea too of having a physical gratitude journal and it, you don’t have to go out and buy something even that’s specifically made to be a gratitude journal. It could be any old Dollar Tree notebook. Yep. And if you write things down and you write the date where you’re thinking about them, it is just so special to be able to flip back and look through, you know, oh, this time in my life I was dealing with this thing and I was thankful for this. And you’ll probably find that you wanna journal about more than just the things that you’re thankful for. And I also think that’s a really yes, a positive habit to be in. but you basically create this archive of things in your life that you’ve been thankful for and that you’ve shown gratitude for. And that’s a really powerful thing to look back on maybe when you are going through something hard, looking back and seeing all of the things that you have enjoyed and that you’ve had in your life that have brought you joy and that you’ve been grateful for, that is just such an awesome thing to be able to do. So I guess as a takeaway, I would just recommend go find a journal. It doesn’t need to be fancy. And just start writing down a couple things you’re thankful for each day and maybe some thoughts to go with it. And just the date you will be blown away at what that can do for you.
Brittany: Okay. Yeah, no, I think that’s absolutely right.
Emma: Awesome. Well, we are gonna wrap it there guys. Thank you so much. And check out the show notes. We will be sure to link to that fee article that Brittany mentioned and we will talk to you guys again soon.
Brittany: Talk to you later.
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