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Gratitude Episode 7


· 46:28


[00:00:00] Mark: there are certain triggers within my family. Like for example, if anyone says Red cabbage, someone has to shout Red cabbage. No idea. Uh, because we're. Wood fans. Um, A few of those, but one of them is anytime, bono sings well tonight, thank God it's them instead of you. My mom typically has to go, I don't like that. I don't like that line. that and thereby the grace of God, I think are two, two lines that I'm increasingly becoming frustrated by.

[00:00:27] Welcome to the A to Z of Happiness, with Anya Pearse, and me Mark Steadman. Join us as we unpack the science of happiness one letter at a time. This week. It's G for gratitude.


[00:00:44] Anya: We were talking about gratitude generally because it is g and this, and in my infinite wisdom, I decided that, uh, for this, for this first season anyway, she says, looking to the future, like there's gonna be like a shit ton more. Gratitude would be a really good place to start because it is such a cornerstone of positive psychology.

[00:01:04] But why we are talking about it today is the fact that I. Despite the, the, the levity, the, the, the, the fears, the, the, the, the shit Abu in my voice. I feel like shit

[00:01:18] Mark: Oh,

[00:01:19] Anya: I, my, my head is full of, uh, soggy marshmallow, well not even bees, bees, bees make honey bees are doing shit like, so, so soggy, marshmallow. I don't even know what that is, but and it's, yeah, my brain, I am.

[00:01:35] Trying to focus whatever brain cells I have available, uh, at my disposal, uh, in this particular direction,

[00:01:42] and. Yeah, let's just let, I'm, I'm, I'm feeling grateful for being able to be upright today, I think is how I'm starting. I'm, I'm grateful to, to be able to open my eyes even if neither of them are focusing at the same distance

[00:01:56] And I'm very grateful for your ensuing pa uh, gra uh, patience as we record this, as um, my brain wanders off in different directions and we don't have the toddler rain sufficiently secured, so, Yeah,

[00:02:11] Mark: All right then. Well, one of the things, I think it's, it's worth having a little, uh, insight as they say inside baseball moment here. Uh, let's just sort of go behind the podcast and one of the, the discussions that we had fairly early on is that For you? I think more, more than for me, just because I, my, my challenges are different. But we, we did talk about the value in showing up and hitting record when we're not at our best because there are certain aspects of it, because it's all very well us talking about how to be happy when it's easy.

[00:02:45] But what do we do when it's difficult? And I think gratitude especially is one of those, there are so many relationships, weird relationships that we have growing up.

[00:02:55] I think that, that are instilled in us

[00:02:57] you know, relationships with gratitude with that concept.

[00:03:01] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. And I definitely wanna talk about, uh, you know, kind of toxic positivity and toxic gratitude, you know, about, uh, how you should be grateful for things. And actually, you know, I think this is why it can rob some people up the wrong way. You know, you, you, you, you mentioned about the band-aid thing, you know, tonight, thank God it's them instead of you.

[00:03:22] You know, I, I was very lucky. Um, There's not often I say this, but, and you'll see why when I finished this sentence, I was very lucky growing up in my household, , one of the good things

[00:03:34] was that there was never any pressure to clean my plate.

[00:03:39] There was never anything of, you know, think, think of the starving children in Africa, if we're gonna go Band-Aid, uh, along those lines again,

[00:03:47] you know, think about people who are less well off than you.

[00:03:50] There was no,

[00:03:51] you know, Don't, don't be so ungrateful. You know, all those kinds of messages and things. And I think that, being able to spot the good in our life, being able to recognize it, actually looking out for it, as something we actively choose rather than as something we're being forced to do.

[00:04:13] Mark: mm.

[00:04:14] Anya: is, is hugely important. Because yeah, there are days, you know, and I, and I've had a few over the last few weeks and, you know, I've have a, i I journal in the morning and I was doing it this morning, you know, just recognizing. Okay, so what is going well right now? Yeah, my, my, I'm feeling woozy af I would quite happily crawl back under my duvet and stay there for the rest of the day.

[00:04:38] And there's a, there's a ton of things that I would love to do,

[00:04:44] Mark: Hmm.

[00:04:44] Anya: including, you know, spending time with you darling. So yeah, it's just finding ways to nudge ourselves or nudge myself towards gratitude

[00:04:57] and almost being aware of what's going. in the moment. You know, right now, in this moment, as I'm talking to you through the power of the internet, for which I, again, I am grateful.

[00:05:10] You know, the sun is shining, streaming through my window. I have sufficiently. Wrapped myself up in Loizou so that I am a good ambiance, physical temperature. I have a hot flask of nettle tea, which I sip each time. Uh, I let you get a word in edgeways. You know, right here, right now in this moment, things are all right.

[00:05:32] Things are pretty good, and it's just taking that beat just to actually open my eyes and open my senses and open my thinking to notice these things.

[00:05:44] Mark: I, this is a leading question because I can see what's, uh, what what we have to talk about here. Um, So there's, you know, speaking of segues, there's, there's no other way to, to, uh, to do this. But um, how can we gamify this?

[00:05:56] Anya: Well, there's, there were, there were a bunch of ways. Um, One of them. comes from, uh, my dear friend Victoria Johnson. Vicky Johnson at the Museum of Happiness. She's a co-founder and director, and we have something at the museum called Gratitude Bingo.

[00:06:15] Mark: I feel like I need a jing.

[00:06:17] Anya: Okay. Kids, everyone just get, grab a pen and paper so you can play at home. But yeah, she, she was, Visiting her family up in Blackpool, near Blackpool, and her grandparents took her to play bingo, and they spent the whole time complaining, like, oh, you know, not getting the numbers, how someone else was winning.

[00:06:44] How, like every little thing, you know, like the negativity bias. We, we, I've mentioned several times before, like the negativity bias was on this freaking steroid. And, and bless her, Vicky, you know, creativity on the drive home, saying, you know, and afterwards saying, well, is there anything that you know, you were grateful for?

[00:07:04] Because this is one of the practices she was doing, you know, to reset her bias was, you know, looking for three good things each day. And she came up with this thing of gratitude. Bingo. And it's a wonderful way to. Break the ice at an event or you know, particularly with a crowd of people. And so, you know, if this was a more interactive, there's a group of us.

[00:07:24] What I do is I say, get a, get a piece of paper, get a pen. I, I am a grown ass adult, but yet I always have a, a stash of felt tips at my immediate disposal.

[00:07:36] Mark: of course.

[00:07:38] Anya: like, like in pots dotted around my flat. And, uh, I, I just say,

[00:07:43] Mark: I'm getting a, I'm getting a Sharpie. I'm getting a Sharpie. a black one. There we go. All right. I've got my

[00:07:48] black sharpie.

[00:07:49] Anya: Oh, it, okay, so this is,

[00:07:50] Mark: a piece of paper from the

[00:07:52] printer.

[00:07:53] Anya: Okay, shall we, I mean, we can play this together right now if you want. Oh, okay. Wow.

[00:07:59] Mark: we go. Gratitude. Bingo.

[00:08:00] Anya: Woo-hoo.

[00:08:04] you, you know, when you're in good hands, when a man automatically has a, has a sound effect at his immediate fingertips. So, He has. Okay. He has, it's, it's like phoning into baby BBC six music

[00:08:19] So take your piece of paper and then divide it into four, into four quadrants. So like a line down the center vertically, and then align horizontally. So we have four roughly equal boxes. We're, we're, we're not gonna be, uh, too fussy about things. . And then when you are ready, just, just, just, just give me an no audience

[00:08:42] Woohoo, um, in each corner, draw something that you are grateful for. And I'm gonna try and do this without saying what it is as I'm drawing at the same time, which given my limited brain capacity is really pretty difficult right now.

[00:09:00] Mark: I am wondering if I put sunglasses on the thing that I'm grateful for, I'm gonna do that.

[00:09:05] Anya: Well, I'm now looking for additional colored felt tips so I can do each one in a different color because that's how I roll people. So, and I'll do drawing that and then luckily I kind of, oh, what else am I grateful for? But I'm definitely grateful for that.

[00:09:20] Mark: I dunno how to draw that thing I'm grateful for, but that's fine.

[00:09:23] Anya: Yeah. And, and that's, that's the thing, like one of the things that often happens in this is people get hung up on their drawing skills and then like Vicky and I show our stuff and it's like everyone, everyone's chills down after that cuz it's very stick stick people, all the way people

[00:09:42] Mark: The bar is low

[00:09:43] Anya: The, the, the, the, the, the, the, the bar.

[00:09:46] If, if you'll chip on it. If you're wearing flip flops, it's that low

[00:09:50] Mark: Oh, we need a fourth thing. Oh, of course.

[00:09:52] Anya: uh oh. Hang on. No, that'll do right.

[00:09:57] So, Okay,

[00:09:58] Are, oh, oh, are we ready?

[00:09:59] Mark: let's do this.

[00:10:00] Anya: um, what we do now with gratitude bingo is we, uh, read out what each person goes in turn, reading out what they have, and then if you've got the same thing or something very similar, bearing in mind that we are extremely relaxed on categorization.

[00:10:19] Mark: okay. Just thought you meant those people, but

[00:10:21] Anya: No, well that was that as well.

[00:10:23] So I'm gonna read mine out and then you can like, tick off any that you might have as well.

[00:10:30] And so the first one I've drawn and I, and I, and I can show you because you are, you are, you are here with us. I know. I told, I told you the bar was low, wasn't it? Didn't I?

[00:10:39] Mark: You've, you've done color and everything.

[00:10:40] Anya: Yeah, I know. Well, that's why I go further the felt tips, cuz like,

[00:10:44] even if my drawing is shit, the fact that it's in color just elevates it a little.

[00:10:48] Mark: Yes indeed.

[00:10:49] Anya: Mm-hmm.

[00:10:50] Mark: If you'd like to see an image, uh, A is Z of Happiness dot com

[00:10:54] Anya: Yeah, there'll be a photo of it.

[00:10:56] Mark: gratitude. Actually, it's, it'll be slash wherever Anyway,

[00:11:02] link is in the show

[00:11:02] Anya: God. A, B, C, D, E,

[00:11:04] Mark: Yeah. Thank you,

[00:11:05] Anya: Episode seven.

[00:11:06] Mark: There you go. Thank you.

[00:11:07] Anya: Episode seven.

[00:11:09] Mark: I mean, I could have just looked at my notes. Let's, right, right.

[00:11:12] What's on your first square?

[00:11:13] Anya: What's in the first square is a drawing of a book, which suggests kind of knowledge and studies and I'm just grateful for all the books that I have around me at the moment, which I've been consulting and all the research that people do into stuff. Cuz while some of it is a pain, has been a pain in my ass to try and track down this week, I'm very grateful that it exists.

[00:11:39] So yeah, the second box is a yellow sunshine.

[00:11:43] Mark: Uh,

[00:11:44] what do I do? Uh,

[00:11:45] Anya: well, whoa, whoa, whoa.

[00:11:46] Mark: No, that's not, that's not a good noise. Um, There we go. I've got yellow sunshine.

[00:11:51] Anya: Yes. Uh, and

[00:11:53] Mark: what do I do when I've got, when we've got a match?

[00:11:55] Anya: well, well, well, you can take it off.

[00:11:57] Mark: Okay.

[00:11:57] Anya: You can take a ticket, ticket through.

[00:11:59] Mark: Yep.

[00:12:00] Tick.

[00:12:01] Anya: Tick. I also have like a red. It's hard to know what it is without a Descript, but I did mention it earlier. It's my flask of tea, so anything tea, food,

[00:12:13] sustenance related, I have that.

[00:12:16] Mark: I have it. Yeah. Okay. Yep. Mm

[00:12:18] Anya: You might be able to stretch it. And then my last box is a row of stick people and a heart.

[00:12:26] And that is for, you know, friends. Relationships, the good people who are in my life, who I love and who for reasons which often escape me, seem to feel in a similar amount of, uh, affection and appreciation in

[00:12:40] Mark: on now. Alright.

[00:12:43] Anya: so,

[00:12:43] Mark: you, you are obviously very practiced at this. Um, So.

[00:12:47] Anya: Yeah, I, I've, I've done, I've done this like a few times in Oh, oh my goodness.

[00:12:53] Mark: Yeah,

[00:12:54] I'm a 40 year old man, not a, not a four year old child, but, uh, you know, that's, that's just how I present when it comes to drawing

[00:13:02] Anya: look, there's no judgements

[00:13:04] Mark: Instead of Happiness dot com slash seven. Um, okay, so my top left square is a big, is a big sun. He is wearing, uh, sunglasses, uh, because he's, he's, he might blind himself.

[00:13:15] The next one is fire. Uh, to, to, it was very literal um, because I'm warm, uh, and I, my, my heater kicked on, uh, as we were talking and I was able to turn it off because I'm warm enough. So I'm grateful to be, I'm grateful to be warm enough, which in this, you know, if I can, if I can take the game show host hat off for a second

[00:13:40] in this, uh, current time that we are living in is not something to be taken for granted.

[00:13:44] Anya: Absolutely. Absolutely.

[00:13:46] Mark: The next one. Bottom left is a magnifying glass. That's what that was, uh, which signifies my, uh, ability, uh, at the moment to find opportunities, uh, for,

[00:13:59] uh, for life and for work and for those kinds of things. So my sort of, uh, I'm grateful at the moment to have opportunities not falling at my lap, but to be able to go out and seek

[00:14:10] Anya: I love that.

[00:14:11] Mark: And then of course the, the, the, the bottom right is kittens. Well, cats, uh, cuz I'm grateful to Roscoe and Bailey, who at the moment are keeping me from making my bed. I saw them this morning. I was reminded of that Bengals lyric from um, manic Monday. These are the days where you wish your bed was already made, cuz it looks like a state, but it's got two sleeping cats on it.

[00:14:28] So there's nothing I can do.

[00:14:29] Anya: Because they obviously take priority.

[00:14:32] They

[00:14:32] Mark: I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna disturb two sleeping cats. I'm not a monster.

[00:14:35] Anya: I know

[00:14:36] Mark: So that's gratitude. Bingo.

[00:14:38] Anya: Grass Gratitude Bingo. Uh,

[00:14:40] But I think one of the things it does do, and I've just shown this right now, you know, it, it, it can be practical or conceptual. It can be, and even just sharing. even, even though, you know, we only had like one in common, you know, cuz it's, this is quite a small f a small group. You know, finding the commonalities but also getting an insight into someone else's life and the way that they think, you know, I think these are the ways which, you know, and that is one of the things which Uh, you know, Dr.

[00:15:11] Robert Emmonds talks about in his arc model of gratitude, you know, he says it amplifies rescues and Connects

[00:15:20] and, you know, this idea of connecting through gratitude, you know, connecting with ourselves, connecting with the world around us connecting with what's going well in our lives. But yeah, you know, connecting to to, to one another.

[00:15:33] I think. I, I, I'm gonna say, I don't think it's gonna be a controversial statement, but I'm sure you'll, I'm sure you'll, uh, correct me if I'm wrong. It might be just a British thing. I dunno whether it's a human thing, but it feels like it's particularly British to connect through complaining.

[00:15:49] To have conversations about what's going wrong in life and, uh, I can almost a level of, on upmanship, I'm thinking of kind of, various 1960s comedy

[00:15:59] sketches. Well, you

[00:16:00] Mark: that, yes. No, I'm now thinking of the for yorkshireman.

[00:16:03] Anya: can you, cuz I've only got a dim recollection of that, but as soon as I was talking and I looked at you, I went, he's a man.

[00:16:08] Who knows? Cause I'm just like, you least have a cardboard box that, that joke.

[00:16:14] Mark: if, uh, yes, uh, if you would've told me 40 year ago that I'd be Satir drinking shadow Deely I would've, uh, yeah, well, you know, I would've told you you're mad or whatever. We, and yes, it's, it's, it's, it's four people. It, it was made I think for the 19 at last, the 1948 show, pre Python. And it is these four yorkshiremen who are competing. To tell each other how hard they had their life.

[00:16:42] Yeah. So, you know, of course we had it tough. There were 14 of us living in a shoebox in the middle of the motorway. And every morning we had to get up half an hour before we went to bed and lick the road clean whit Tong. Uh, and we'd have to go down the mill and pair middle on a permission to come to work.

[00:16:57] And when we got home, our dad would slices and two with a bread knife. If you try and tell young people to do that, they won't believe you. And it is just, it's, yeah, competitive, competitive complaining.

[00:17:07] But no, absolutely. Like, whether it's, whether it's the, the pub state of public transport or the weather or whatever we will find, or how we haven't had enough coffee in the morning. Oh God. We will find we will find things to connect, uh, and complain about Absolut.

[00:17:28] Anya: Yeah, and I mean, I am aware, I loved, uh, the actor, Steven Mangan was on, on one of these Talking Heads things, and I forget what the subject was, but he did

[00:17:40] Mark: I love the 1990s probably or something.

[00:17:42] Anya: Well, I don't know it, it might have been something like that. But he did say about how actually, you know, list asking someone about the weather actually wasn't about the weather and they were kind of sharing.

[00:17:58] You know, their, their emotional truth, but they did, they didn't like to say it. So, you know, so you know how, you know, oh yeah, it, it isn't the weather, you know, a bit rubbish. Isn't the weather kind of cold and wet at the moment? You know, actually reading that as, ah, you know, this is someone who's,

[00:18:15] whose

[00:18:16] Mark: a little down at.

[00:18:17] Anya: Down at Hill, you know, down in spirit. so I think there are things, there is nuance in the complaining or the subtext in

[00:18:26] it more, you know, it's like reading between the lines

[00:18:31] of it. and, and I, cause I think it can be quite threatening for some people to talk about what they're grateful.

[00:18:40] Mark: mm.

[00:18:40] Anya: I'm just thinking kind of Brene, Brown talks about foreboding joy.

[00:18:45] Mark: Oof.

[00:18:46] Anya: Yeah. Yeah. It's kind of this thing of not of, of always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

[00:18:52] Mark: Oh,

[00:18:53] Anya: Yeah. And so you don't really want to fully let yourself absorb the good things because you have this horrible foreboding feeling of them.

[00:19:06] Mark: It's all gonna go away.

[00:19:08] Anya: It's all gonna go away. So if I don't let myself get emotionally involved with this right now, I can, the story I tell myself is if I don't get involved with it now, I don't really absorb it now. It'll hurt less when it leaves and it will.

[00:19:26] Mark: Hmm.

[00:19:27] Anya: You know, it's always having the end in mind. And while, you know, to get, sprinkle a bit of Buddhist on, on your breakfast this morning you know, the whole thing, everything isn't change.

[00:19:39] Everything's in permanent. You know, the, the, the sense of things continuing and being stable and secure is, is an illusion, but it's a real illusion. Guys. . It's a real mirage.

[00:19:51] Mark: Mm.

[00:19:52] Anya: And, you know, this is one of my own, one of one of the few things which I say, which I think is actually my own um, uncertainty, is the wellspring of anxiety

[00:20:02] and having, this is why.

[00:20:05] You know, we kind of want to tell ourselves these negative stories about things ending. It's because we don't want the uncertainty of when they will end of how things will

[00:20:14] Mark: God. Yeah. Yeah. No, that, that, I think you are surprised by how well that resonated with me. Like Yeah. I, I, you know, ti tiny little example just because it's the first one that comes to mind. I remember being about 14 and my parents l sort of, punishing my brother for not keeping his room clean enough cuz he had the big room in the, uh, in, in our house.

[00:20:38] Of course he did. Cause he was the big brother.

[00:20:40] Uh, and so there was a sort of a, you know, Mum at the end of her tether, uh, finding whatever she was finding, uh, in various places. I won't embarrass him now cuz he's quite a, uh, uh, an important person. But, you know, we, we were kids and um, so the punishment was that I was allowed to occupy that room for an unspecified period of time.

[00:21:02] Anya: Oh, it's the unspecified bit. That's the cuff killer.

[00:21:07] Mark: exactly. So I elected to move back,

[00:21:09] you know, I, I, I, I stuck it out for a week or two and moved all my stuff in and he moved all his stuff out. Uh, and yeah, I stuck it out for a week or two and I was like, no, I, I, I want this to go back to what it was, because I know at some point this has

[00:21:24] to, this has to end

[00:21:26] Anya: yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, just. Grab my collar if I wander off down a rabbit hole too far. But I do wonder whether, you know, some people ends things like particularly relationships, romantic relationships, you know, prematurely because they can't bear the uncertainty of the other person leaving them.

[00:21:47] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:21:49] Anya: And there's in there a certain amount of agency in. In doing that, and which is a shame really. You know, because, you know, the other, you know, I mentioned, you know, the ARC model, you know, the other two are amplifies and rescues. You know, and gratitude can rescue us from that kind of insecure thinking.

[00:22:08] Can rescue our mood, can rescue us from, you know, we, we have, we've evolved these tricky brains that are designed to keep us safe, not make us happy, you know, and being rescued from our own negativity bias at times can be, you know, hugely helpful. I mean, one of the examples that I've got is Ben, I.

[00:22:33] Spent a lovely day with my partner before Christmas, and there was just, Like 12 hours together, something like that. You know, it, it it to the point where you're thinking, oh, you're not bored yet. You know, apparently, but apparently no, you know, putting up the Christmas tree and et cetera, et cetera. And it was, it was a lovely day.

[00:22:54] And I was, and I got a bit, a bit tearful about doing the Christmas tree thing because, you know, the first year without my mom, you know, hadn't dressed a Christmas tree with someone for a long time. But there was like this 10 minutes where he said something at an inopportune moment. and afterwards I could not shift my thinking and my physical sensation memory of it, and it was like, Have someone creating a beautiful birthday party.

[00:23:26] Got all the guests there, made all the lovely food, baked me a cake, decorated it. There were gifts like his, his gifts were the only ones I had open on Christmas day, you know, so this is where the analogy comes from. And then like finding a fingernail in the icing. in the frosting and like, and like, Okay, you have a full compliment of fingernails.

[00:23:49] Who the fuck is this ? How do I have to do a DNA test? What the hell? And it is that thing, you know, that small thing ruins the rest of the cake and the rest of the party, you know, because your mic keeps going back to the ugh of finding that. And you know how I rescued myself and brought myself back to.

[00:24:14] Out of this kind of loop really, this, this, this rumination was to sit down and write a long list, a full page of all the good things that happened that day to actually remember the other 11 hours and 50 minutes

[00:24:32] Mark: Mm-hmm.

[00:24:33] Anya: I know when I say it was like a 10 minute chunk, it probably wasn't even that. It's probably.

[00:24:36] Four, you know, but, and actually just reorientate myself towards the good things that happened that day and the relationship and you know, all the special things. So I could just nudge myself away from. The negativity bias, which was holding on gripping like a dog with a bone onto this one small exchange, which in the greater context was uncomfortable, was bad, but wasn't enough to outweigh everything that was good.

[00:25:12] And I think, you know, this is the, you know, the first letter of the ARC model, Amplifi. Actually just sitting down and writing that list to amplify, you know, the, the good things. Not to drown out the bad one, but to provide counterbalance. And I think that is the thing.

[00:25:33] Mark: I've recently started daily journaling, cuz I've been doing, I've been keeping a, uh, a weekly journal, which I sort of update every day, but it's, you know, it's meant to have a weekly scope, so it's not really thinking about each particular day. Uh, and I've been doing that for about 18 months or so. And, uh, I have switched, uh, over the last couple of weeks, well since, uh, the beginning of the year to this daily journal and. That habit of thinking about reflecting on the day, reflecting on the positivity. Uh, you know, I, I write something that I'm, I'm grateful for, or something that I, something that that's positive, that's good, that I'm pleased about or proud of, whatever.

[00:26:14] Uh, and I have space for the, for something that, uh, I'm less pleased about.

[00:26:17] And so far I've been able to put something in the positive column every day, or the positive box every day. And there's been one or two days where I'm like, I don't have to fill that. I don't have

[00:26:30] to fill that box that, that negative box in if I don't really have anything. You know, I had a bit of a headache yesterday that doesn't

[00:26:36] really feel like it needs to warrant going in the box.

[00:26:38] I don't have that. I'm not finding that at the moment. That difficulty in, you know, and, and that that won't always be the case. There will always be days where I know where it's going to be really hard to find that positive thing. And then I think that's where gratitude comes in to be grateful for, you know, the roof over my head.

[00:26:58] Even if, you know, I'm feeling precarious or feeling precarity or knowing that

[00:27:02] I've got company, knowing that I've got someone that I can pick up the phone to and say I'm having a bad day. Like that's something to be grateful for. That's, yeah, those are, those are some, some things we can do, but I think there's more.

[00:27:14] And I, I, I like the idea that, uh, that I think we should get into of thinking about what we overlook normally. Because we, it it's easy to, yeah. Like w when we're trying to find the good things. I guess it can be easy to overlook some of the things that, you know, maybe we take for granted or feel too small.

[00:27:41] Anya: Yeah, I think it was an interesting one. You know, cuz you know, the, the, the, the classic gratitude exercises, you know, what are the three things you're grateful for and to journal about them each night. And, you know, in the sounds and it's not dissimilar to what you are doing. And, you know, research does suggest that that can be, well, research and anecdotal evidence actually um, I guess I'm doing, uh, hopefully I'm completing soon.

[00:28:08] Uh, it depends on a dissertation. I'm an MSC and applied positive psychology. One of the first exercises we did was putting in like, a positive psychology practice into practice and all, you know, the, my fellow students who were doing the gratitude thing were like, Holy shit. I'm sleeping better at

[00:28:27] night, It's like, it says that will happen, but I didn't think it would happen to me. Dunno. To, to, to, to, to

[00:28:38] Mark: It's a quote. Yes. A

[00:28:39] playboy. Uh, yes. Imagine

[00:28:42] my surprise. Yeah.

[00:28:44] Anya: indeed. And I, and I think, one of the things I've noticed when I have deliberately kept one in the evening has been keeping an awareness through the day of things to write down in that journal.

[00:28:58] Mark: Hmm.

[00:28:59] Anya: And I think, you know, you had your as in your gratitude, big bingo, the magnifying glass, actually taking that in the metaphorical glass and just looking at your ordinary day-to-day life

[00:29:13] through it.

[00:29:14] Mark: mm-hmm.

[00:29:16] Anya: You know, we can see so much that we do, you know, ordinarily take for granted.

[00:29:21] Mark: It, it reminds me of a little bit of thinking about if you were to write a piece of standup and you might think about some of something awful that's happened. In your recent past or that you are going through right now. And I think for, for people who really take that craft seriously, there is that thought in the back of the head as however horrible this is, it's gonna be a great story or it's gonna be a great bit to, to write.

[00:29:42] And I like the idea of being able to apply the same kinds of things to the journal. Like, oh, this is gonna be good, good meat for the, you know, for, for the daily journal.

[00:29:51] Anya: Yeah, cuz it, then again, it is this thing of reorientating away from our negativity bias and, you know, it is quite easy and I, and I've definitely been guilty of this myself, of being grateful for the same things time and time again. But actually just getting really granular and, you know, this is why, you know, in, in, in my gratitude journal you gratitude bingo.

[00:30:14] Just now, you know, just mentioning my flask of tea,

[00:30:18] cuz that is, you know, I'm grateful to past Anya for having the presence of mind to, to, to make it so that I would have this to sip. And this idea of having a, I've got a glass of water as well, but a warm drink. , you know, this research suggests that that also like warms your your cognition,

[00:30:39] you know, warms your emotional temperature as well, you know, so that that's a nice little extra thing that previous anda either, probably subconsciously thought about,

[00:30:49] but just having this kind of, this small thing that makes my life.

[00:30:56] Mark: I love being able to have that bridge between the future and the past to be able to, you know, when Mark, when when Future Mark makes a coffee for. Past mark. Mm. Other way around when past Mark makes a coffee future Mark, who, who is then present, mark and then, yeah. That is always, that's a lovely thing to wake up to, you know, it's like, ah, well done past Mark.

[00:31:19] You, you, you, you did me a solid there, you you, you made a pot of coffee and it's already on. Uh, and all I've gotta do is pour, you know, uh, those moments or getting, getting a little bit ahead of a project and realizing, like, tho, tho, you know, realizing, oh, I didn't have to do that today because past me, Got got my back. I love, I love those little moments. I think. I think they're great.

[00:31:40] Anya: and you know, I tend to do a lot of batch cooking.

[00:31:44] Mark: Mm.

[00:31:45] Anya: and you know, because when I've got the energy to cook and, and I've got a slow cooker as well, which makes it so much easier. So, you know, right now, you know, this morning I was going, oh, I feel, okay, so I've got, ooh, I've got homemade past nip and coconut soup in the freezer I made, I made, so that's, that's lunch sorted.

[00:32:05] I've got the bread I made a couple of days ago so I can have nice slices of toast with it. And then this evening, , I have got homemade ogen cur in my freezer.

[00:32:16] Mark: Boom.

[00:32:17] Anya: You know,

[00:32:17] Mark: Past Anya. Did you A solid, did you Several solids,

[00:32:20] Anya: she, she, it's, yeah. Yeah. But I mean, and, and, and it is this, you know, another aspect of kind, like self-compassion, I think of just recognizing, certainly for me, I, you know, I guess it's different for different people and, and the timelines and stuff.

[00:32:36] For me, it's having a recognition that of my vulnerability and my fragility a very practical level. You know, when I have bad days, I don't have anyone who lives nearby who can look after me, you know, and so, I am always incredibly grateful to past me the number of times I've gone, oh, I must be running outta this.

[00:33:03] Oh crap, I need to, oh, but I'm not do another delivery until, oh no, past me has already ordered three bottles of washing up liquid , which I completely forgotten about, but I'm very grateful for, explains why my cupboards are so damn full. Cuz like my, my, my, you know, I'm always thinking. Future. And yeah,

[00:33:23] I'm always going, okay, love.

[00:33:25] How can I make your life easier? How can, how can I look after you? And, you know, feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude and appreciation for, you know, there, there's a certain level of conscientiousness I have, which can sometimes feel a lack of reciprocation. With others,

[00:33:44] Mark: Mm

[00:33:46] Anya: choosing my words carefully.

[00:33:47] Mark: mm.

[00:33:48] Anya: Like the, the, the, the people who I love the most tend to be also conscientious. And so it's, it's very helpful. But having this appreciation of that particular strength and quality in myself, that's Yeah. Yeah. Is always looking out for me, has got my own back and I think, and it really makes me think about how that is often born on the backs of others as well. You know, having people who can rather not be able to look after me when I'm not. Well, this idea of just thinking, you know, not just being grateful to multiple cells, my multiple cells, but like, but genuine others.

[00:34:33] Mark: Yes.

[00:34:34] Anya: And I think this idea of asking ourselves, you know, who you know, who am I grateful?

[00:34:40] Mark: Mm-hmm. which brings us back to, to see,

[00:34:43] Anya: Yeah, brings us back to see, brings us back, back to connect and, you know, gratitude. Yes. You know, it helps with things like pain management, it helps with chronic illness, it helps with us sleeping better at night, but it also really helps improve relationships. And, you know, there's the classic is a gratitude letter, you know, actually, Taking the time to think of someone in your life who you are really grateful to and going to, you know, just, just sitting down for like 20 minutes and writing them, you know, something, some people send it, some people go over and give the person the letter.

[00:35:22] Other people don't, is actually even sometimes the person who you're grateful to is no longer around to receive the gratitude. But writing, actually just putting it into words. can be a really powerful thing, and particularly, you know, if you do share it and being really specific, but even if, you know, you don't go to those lengths, you know, I I is there someone you could send a text message to?

[00:35:49] You know, because we send text messages so often, you know, as I say, text the WhatsApp or whatever. Oh, your, your, your platform of choice, you

[00:35:57] Mark: yes. Other, other, other messaging services are a.

[00:36:00] Anya: Exactly. That's the cup. That's the, the, the caveat I was looking for. And actually just being really specific, you know, not just saying, oh, you know, I'm really gra grateful to have you in my life.

[00:36:09] That thing of, you know, I'm really grateful, I feel so grateful to you for when you, you know, picked up that shopping for me when I had the flu and I couldn't get out of bed, you know, or whatever it might.

[00:36:23] Mark: Something as simple as, I'm grateful for you for asking how I was yesterday, as in,

[00:36:29] you know, because you knew that I was having, you know, I was going in for a, for something or I, I was, you know, whatever it is, like being grateful that someone spared you the thought. I think it, yeah. Is, is is something to to reference because not everybody does.

[00:36:45] Anya: Yeah. And that kind of, you know, one of the, you know, gratitude is often considered synonymous with appreciation. . And I think, you know, the gratitude is just, is, is almost like the noticing, but appreciation is like an extra level to that. There's a communication level I think, in that there's a more of a pause, you know, and then you get into kind of like savoring, which is really basking in it, you know?

[00:37:09] The neuroscientist Rick Hansen says that we, our minds are like Velcro for the bad stuff and Teflon for the.

[00:37:16] Mark: Yeah.

[00:37:17] Anya: And I, if I recall correctly, it's something like, cuz we, we remember bad things instantly, there's a, an evolutionary bias towards it because it kept us safe. You know, we learn information that way.

[00:37:30] Mark: Hence, hence the brain keeping us safe, not, not making us.

[00:37:33] Anya: exactly, exactly. But to get the same amount of stickiness from the good stuff, actually having to spend about, I think it's like 20 seconds. Really soaking it up. Savoring it, and I'm thinking 20 seconds because, you know, another thing that gratitude actually helps activate its oxytocin, which takes us again, back to the connect thing.

[00:37:57] And from what I recall correctly, you know, when you hug someone, you know, it's, it is, the ideal length is about three slow breaths together. That is the amount of time it takes to trigger oxytocin generation in our body. Uh, and then, then it lasts about 24 hours. And so yeah, actually just making time to, yeah.

[00:38:22] I think that that is why this whole thing of sitting down and writing a letter or even being really specific, it gives something for our own oxytocin levels to. To activate

[00:38:31] Mark: Mm-hmm. Latch onto.

[00:38:33] Anya: to latch onto. Yeah. And give some time to really come online.

[00:38:38] Mark: Well with that then should we, should we bring this, bring this to a close and you, you're gonna, you're gonna bring us home with, uh, uh, a meditation.

[00:38:47] Anya: I am, because it's really, this is something which I do in the Happiness facilitator training. Because it, it came about because we often do like a body scan, like the previous one, which is like showing, showing gratitude for our body. And then Vicky was like, can you do like a gratitude one afterwards?

[00:39:04] It's like, shit, normally that's the one I do for like being, being grateful. And I haven't written it down, so it's always a bit different each time and I am conscious of the time. So I will try and do an abbreviated version if I can. . But yeah, if it feels safe and comfortable to do so, to close your eyes and just kick back for the next, I'd like to say five, but more likely 10 minutes.

[00:39:29] I would love to bring all these threads together and there's a pun in that as you all discover. So yeah, just take a moment to take a breath, close your eyes or perhaps simply lower your.

[00:39:48] Notice the rise and fall of your breath. Not looking to change it. Just noticing your body shift with each breath.

[00:40:03] Noticing your sitting bones on the seat or the surface beneath you, supporting you, your feet on the floor.

[00:40:17] Whatever is coming into contact with your hands.

[00:40:23] I'm just inviting you just to notice the contact of your clothes on your body right now. The hosey on your feet, whatever is hugging you in robing you.

[00:40:46] Just allowing and inviting a moment of gratitude for these garments that are keeping you warm and clothed and protected. Right now,

[00:41:02] taking a moment to think of all the unseen hands that have ensured that these clothes are encompassing you right now.

[00:41:15] And all the clever minds that have grown the plants, woven the fabric died, cut, sewn, transported, perhaps bought. If you're wearing something that's a gift.

[00:41:38] It's so easy to take what we wear for granted at times, but there's so much love and care and effort as going into what's coming into contact with your bare skin right now.

[00:41:58] And then I'd love to invite you to just expand your awareness a little bit more. It's your immediate surroundings. Whatever you are sitting on, sitting in front of, standing in. However you are listening to this right now, I'm just taking a moment to recognize all of these things that are here to quite probably make your life easier, make your life more connected.

[00:42:34] Feeling an awareness and gratitude for all the unseen hands, all the effort, all the kindness, all the care, all the work has gone into creating all of these things that around you that it's so easy to take for granted in your day-to-day living. And yet, Through unseen threads of connection have arrived.

[00:42:58] And here now in this moment with you supporting you.

[00:43:08] And then on the next out breath, just taking awareness out even further. I'm gonna do this in the gentle flowing action now to the building that you are in, the space that you are. The unseen hands that have roven together material and concept,

[00:43:34] and allowed you to be in this environment, whatever it is, and then drawing back even further and further and further, and feeling yourself pull up and out. Giving you a global view and imagining the earth. Now with all these crisp crossing threads, this interwoven fabric of interconnection from the past, the present, and the future.

[00:44:10] All these unseen hands of all these people who we don't know, you don't. And yet whose effort, whose thought, whose consideration, whose presence weaves the world, weaves the world, and supports it in this mesh of ordinary miracle.

[00:44:39] Then I'd just like to invite you just.

[00:44:45] To feel all of this care, all of this love, all of these threads as we just descend gently, slowly through all these threads of connection, all these unspoken things, all these unknown things that connect us to one each other back through, back to the earth and back to where you are in this present moment.

[00:45:11] And just taking a moment again to feel the clothes on your skin. Realizing again how they are literally and metaphorically woven from the fabric, made from all these unknown people, all these unseen hands, all this love and care and thought and.

[00:45:40] So it surrounds you and protects you for the rest of your day.

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Creators and Guests

Anya Pearse
Anya Pearse
Intuitive adviser, facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Coach helping digital creatives with big feelings


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