The practice of gratitude, I used to think that this was just a silly habit. And I honestly couldn’t really see how something so simple could actually make a difference in your overall happiness. But during my search to find ways to improve your life it always kept coming back, there’s so much research out there that actually tells us it truly makes a difference. So, I eventually decided to give it a try. Every night before I went to bed, I took a few minutes to write down 3 things I was grateful for that day. I found that a little bit of a challenge in the beginning, because on bad days my mind can sometimes pretend there is nothing positive. But I forced myself to always think of those 3 things. It doesn’t need to be life changing, huge or complicated things, even things as I’m so grateful for the great cup of coffee this morning. And surprisingly enough I started to realize that it did always give me a bit of a good feeling. And over time I noticed that I actually became a bit happier, as my gratitude would be present throughout the day, I was training myself to see all the little positive things that happened each day, and this definitely made me a happier person. So, this “silly habit” that I started with really no expectations made a difference!
Practicing gratitude is now one of my habits, I practice it all the time. I don’t sit down and write it down every day anymore, but I do take a moment every day and find things I am grateful for. And whenever I find my lying mind telling me too much negativity again, this is one of the first things I go back to, writing my gratitude down every evening before I go to bed.
Incorporating gratitude into our work with horses
We’ve learned that the practice of gratitude can make a big difference in our daily lives and can help make us a happier person. And of course being a happier person can already contribute to our work with horses. But how do we actually use gratitude actively in our work with horses?
We like to analyze our trainings sessions, what went well, what didn’t go well, what do we need to watch next time etc. This is a good thing I think, it makes our next session better, it keeps us focused. We write short notes after each of our training sessions, just so keep track of each horse and their progress. This is all very practical, emotions don’t play a role in this. We think this is important as this way we can focus completely on our horses. But although we’ve trained ourselves to not let our emotions be a part of this process, we of course have emotions. And sometimes we can feel bad about ourselves or feel that we’re not good enough and all sorts of negative thoughts. These thoughts do nothing for you. Don’t get me wrong, I think analyzing your session is great; having a critical look at yourself as to where you could’ve done better, or what went wrong can be very useful. But that doesn’t need to go on and on and end with blaming yourself or thinking you’re bad at what you do. That's where I think the gratitude should come in. Analyze your session in a practical way but end it with gratitude. What is it that you are grateful for in this session? Even if it’s just that you got to spend time with that/your horse. Or be grateful that you are more aware of what you should work on, or that you learned a lot.
Ending your session and thoughts with gratitude will put you in a more positive mindset, puts an end to the negative spiral our thoughts sometime go through after a bad session and it will give you a better, more positive start for your next session.