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Or it might come as a reassurance saying that if you need them, they will do their best to be there. So, gratitude not only helps us build a sustainably happier life through better hormone production, it also forges the long-lasting relationships needed to set our own rock-solid stage (see article 4), which in turn, further contributes to the sustainability of a happier life. Grilling out on the dinky balcony of their rental apartment was a little ridiculous, but I think Maddox wanted to do it to push himself along in his quest for a home. Doug and the kids were inside, waiting for the dogs and sausages to finish cooking. I hate grass, Maddox repeated. This is something I never knew about myself. I mean, who hates grass? I never really thought about it, but it turns out, yeah, I hate grass. In fact, I hate all yard work. I am completely lost. I was used to being lost in conversations with Maddox. I followed your advice, BDJ, he said. I've come to understand that our bodies have all kinds of clever ways to communicate what's right for us and what needs attention. We're intuitive and instinctive. On reflection, there have been some humdingers of circumstances that would absolutely have been avoided had I not gone against my better judgment and had only trusted my gut: from senses about people to whether I'd been sold a tale or two. Times I've quieted my doubts and compromised myself because I've placed a higher value on other people's expectations, wants, and needs. Because I'm not sitting comfortably. Well, actually, I am right now, but if we head back to March 2014 when I'd just given birth to our daughter, there's an incident that stands out as being particularly rife with dodgy boundaries--and, no, I was most certainly not sitting comfortably. Nothing really prepared me for the physical aftermath of giving birth: the aches, the pains, the tears, the fatigue, the milk-laden boobs, and the sheer excruciating pain of having stitches in your undercarriage. Oh my, ouch, ouch, and then plenty more ouch multiplied by a hundred quadrillion million ouches.

As is so common, everyone you love descends for those precious newborn cuddles, and I honestly didn't mind. It felt like a miracle that we had our daughter and that she was healthy (after a scary birth story that I'll save for another day). Win-win-win-win! It's a self-raising recipe for sweet contentment; This establishes an important foundation that lets you be yourself around those you love; And that is not all. An additional way in which gratitude helps you fight depression and set yourself on a more empowering course is through solidifying your core of appreciation. The ramifications of this are deeper than they first seem; This is because when you can appreciate the full value of what already exists in your life, it's less likely that you'll need to go out searching for more to drag into it. This brings about a greater fullness of mind, reducing your dependency on trends, crazes and cravings, while freeing up time and resources to fill the more meaningful gaps you might perceive in your life. How to Cultivate Gratitude Gratitude can come in many forms. Doug and I went looking at houses so that we could see ourselves in our future. That's how you put it, right? Yes, that's right, I said. Yeah, so we looked around and found a few neighborhoods we like, got an idea of prices and all that stuff we talked about. Then it turned out we have friends, another couple with kids, who have a house in one of the neighborhoods we were looking into. They would be experts, right? Yes, I replied. So this couple was going on a monthlong vacation, and they knew we were interested in the neighborhood.

We had talked to them about the future we wanted. I could tell he was trying hard to use the language of futurecasting. We didn't mind sharing the love at all. But at the time, we lived in an apartment that you wouldn't have been able to swing a cat in. Seating was a sofa or the floor. People would come and see us, and I'd end up sitting on the floor; So, yes, mere days post-birth, I ended up perched on the hard floor, stitches 'n' all. Nobody offered me a seat on my sofa despite the perhaps somewhat passive-aggressive overdramatized wincing and ow-ing. It never occurred to me that I could just ask for a more comfortable place to sit. There's this pervasive sense I have that people don't like me, that I'm simply not likable. Rationally, I know that what other people think of me is none of my business, but still, it feels sketchy. The real question I should be asking is: What is it about myself that I consider to be so darned dislikable? You can practice it retroactively, taking a moment to make thanks for something good that came your way in the past. Or you can practice it presently by refusing to take what you have (or what you're doing) for granted. Gratitude can even be extended into the future; Which kind of gratitude is better will depend on your present personal circumstances, but regardless of how you practice gratitude now, there are several helpful techniques for cultivating it further. Gratitude Journaling Although you've learned the fundamental ideas behind journaling, deliberately doing so for the explicit purpose of cultivating gratitude requires a bit more knowledge. Even if you're not an avid journaler in general, I urge you to at least journal for the sake of developing your sense of gratitude. The positive impact this'll have on you is enormous.

One caveat to be aware of is that, if you're in a situation of severely stunted emotional maturity (like I was coming out of my divorce), you might not notice a direct impact on your life-satisfaction at first. However, it will still benefit you to form this habit, as it'll have a tremendous positive knock-on effect for when you finally feel ready to heal. They asked if we wanted to house-sit for them so that we could get a feel for the neighborhood. We were able to make it work with the kids' school, so we took them up on the offer. That's awesome. What a great way to actually try living in the future you want. Yeah, I thought it would be great, Maddox said, proud of his work. We stayed in the house. Loved the neighborhood. Loved it all except for one thing. What's that? The house had this huge backyard, Maddox said, his voice growing dim. Which leads me down the garden path to understanding that perhaps, sometimes, I don't like myself much at all. I'm tying in what other people might think of me--based on no substantial evidence--with how I feel about myself. And that, there, is a merged, wonky boundary and a half. What Are Boundaries and Why Are They So Difficult? Boundaries are inescapable: They're the physical, mental, digital, emotional, environmental, spiritual, and cultural constructs that create a framework that underpins and influences how we behave, our expectations of how those around us might behave, what we take responsibility for, what others take responsibility for, what we let in and what we keep out, and the relationships we have with ourselves and everything around us. Everything we do, feel, or see has a boundary linked to it in some way--even if it's not always so glaringly obvious. There are the clearly defined, mostly man-made boundaries that we can see everywhere we look: the fences, the walls, the hedges, the bridges, the borders, the gates. The homes we live in have doors, walls, and windows that determine the boundaries of our residence.

Those doors and gates and windows and walls and hedges set limits on who can go where, and when, and how. These physical boundaries can help us feel safe and protected, and they act as limits and guides for others. To this end, the following guidelines may help you: Although it helps to journal consistently, the amount that you write each day doesn't have to be consistent at all. Some days you might come up virtually blank, other days you feel like you can fill article after article. It's good to try to write down at least one thing each day, but in general you shouldn't stress over minimums. Don't assume you'll remember things later. This is especially true if you know you're inclined to despondency or anxiety. When you notice something that you found beautiful, or made you smile, or made you laugh, or made you realize something about the person you love (eg realizing my children's empathy when I found out they were refreshing the water bowls for my grandmother's pets without being asked), write it down as soon as you can; Do what feels right. Are lists a bit too dry for you? Why not print and paste photographs instead? We were excited to barbecue and let the kids run around out back. He motioned to the pitiful little grill at our feet. And it was great, until the time came to cut the lawn and take care of the yard. Oh no, I said. I think I see where this is going. Turns out, yard work sucks, Maddox spat. Doug hates it. I think even the kids are allergic to grass.