Day 5: Harnessing Gratitude to Banish Negativity

Undoing the Elephant Mindset is a 10 day challenge designed to help you identify the false boundaries you’ve created in your own life, recognize the deeper reasons you stop yourself from stepping outside those boundaries, and then break free from the ties that hold you back from living a life you are passionate about. What you’ll need: a notebook or blog or computer, a desire to reach for more in your life, and an open mind.

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Day 5: Harnessing Gratitude to Banish Negativity


You know what’s cool about gratitude? The word. If you close your eyes and say it out loud, you hear attitude right there in the middle of it. Try it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Did you do it? The point of the challenge is rewiring that wonderful brain of yours, and a fabulous way to rewire a negative mindset is to focus on what you’re thankful for. And it all comes down to your attitude, which begins with your thoughts.

I can vouch for this; I gave up complaining and whining and negativity for Lent. And you know what? As great as it makes me feel, it’s been harder than giving up chocolate, probably because this is part of ingrained mindsets that most of us have. Think about it: we complain to our friends, family, coworkers, our barista, the dry cleaning lady, our neighbors. Why? Because it connects us to other people. Oh, you had a bad day? Me too. Let’s share our bad day stories, make a connection, and then feel even worse about ourselves.

This is especially true for me right now: I just found out yesterday that a job I was offered on Friday was rescinded on Monday because of a huge mistake on the company’s part. Since they didn’t check ahead of time if they were set up in my state with taxes for remote workers, and since they aren’t set up here, I lost the job offer. After they called me Friday, officially gave it to me, pumped me up about working for them, and let me walk around all weekend telling everyone about my great new job.


My ego is aching and the negative thoughts are running rampant. I was looking forward to this job because it was full time, work-from-home, with a good company (or so I thought), and offered a great benefit package. I thought it would be the perfect job for me while I work on my writing career. So now that it’s been ripped out of my hands, all I can think are bad thoughts. And all I want to do is share my bad mood with everyone. You can probably relate to this type of let down on some level, and if you started telling me about it, we would probably both wind up depressed.

Ok, this is where gratitude comes in. To shift your mindset and banish the negative thoughts that will a) hold you back b) paralyze you and c) crush your spirit, you must turn your mindset to other thoughts. Stop the negative thoughts by acknowledging the good things in your life. Gain a little perspective.

Still stuck? For today’s challenge answer these questions:

  • Who are three (or more) people you can’t function without? If you can’t function without them, you’re probably grateful for them. Write about why they’re so important to you.
  • Do you have luxuries most people in the world lack? I’m talking about a warm, safe home, clean water, money (even if you don’t think it’s enough), a vehicle, access to food, the ability to purchase non-essential items for yourself and home, friends and family, the knowledge of where your friends and family are at the moment and if they’re safe (unlike, say, some people in Japan, Haiti, or any place where earthquakes or natural disasters strike).
  • Do you have a defined passion or love? Does it keep you going and push your motivation? Why do you love this thing?

To help you even more, you can banish negativity outside this exercise all day long in your own mind. When you start thinking about how difficult it will be to write your novel, flip the thought around. At least I have the ability to try and write a novel. When your car won’t start and you’re late for work and you get angry, flip the thought around. At least I’ve got a car and a job. Many people don’t have these things. When you think any negative thoughts at all, anything nit-picky, selfish, petty, unnecessary, ugly, etc– flip it around.

This definitely takes practice, but if you want to be successful at your goal, you need to learn how to shut up the voices in your head. They’ll happily spend all day telling you you’re not good enough, rich enough, skinny enough, smart enough, funny enough, motivated enough. But you are. So when you notice those thoughts happening, flip them. Force a better thought into your mind. You will immediately feel better and you’ll free yourself up for

And if you want some extra credit, help the people around you by calling them out on negative statements that do nothing but frustrate and cause more unhappiness.

If you feel up to sharing, please leave a comment below. You can either write your entire day 1 challenge in the comments, or just give us an overview of your goal and some of the main points you wrote about. See you tomorrow for more Undoing the Elephant Mindset!


One thought on “Day 5: Harnessing Gratitude to Banish Negativity”

  1. Kristin, being in the funk I’ve been in lately. I have tried to improve myself and one of the things I am doing is listening to self-improvement gurus that adamantly promote simply thinking positive to make your life better. Of course, you’re probably familiar with The Secret and the law of attraction. I thought those ideas were a little hokey to begin with…but…I just wanted to share this little story with you and your readers to prove how powerful our thoughts are. Thursday one of the editors for a company I write for accused me of repurposing a reference for an article on lawn care. Since I couldn’t deviate from the facts, I had to use information contained on several university websites and gave in-text credit as the company’s guidelines require. All weekend I had to force myself away from thoughts about the little situation. I wanted to sit and wallow in self-pity, preparing myself for losing my contract with company, the main company I write for and the one I enjoy working for the most of all others. But I knew that negativity would do me no good. So, I went out with my parents on Friday, to a party with a family member on Saturday and fishing with my nieces on Sunday. Monday I meditated everytime I started feeling stressed and upset. Today, actually about an hour ago…the positive thinking paid off. The rejection was overturned and my name cleared. I immediately danced through the house talking aloud to myself, “See, that’s what positive thinking does!!! No more negative thoughts, EVER!”

    Negative Nancys out there will say “It was just a coincidence.” Maybe. But, positive thinking is just like believing in a higher power. You have to really believe it’s going to work, and it really does work…even if something does go bad, in the case of your job not working out. Keep thinking positive…maybe another, better opportunity is waiting for you…and wouldn’t have been available if this first job had worked out.

    I am really enjoying this 10-day challenge and at the half-way point I am feeling much better about my ability to accomplish my goals. I hope everyone else is still participating!!!


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