It is easy to fall into a pattern of taking the things we value for granted, getting past this and regularly realising how lucky we are helps us to be happier. Today I’m going to look at how practicing negative visualisation has helped me to become more grateful and appreciative of things in my life.
“Misfortune weighs most heavily on those who expect nothing but good fortune.” Seneca
At the end of last year my mum was in hospital with pneumonia and was very ill. I am ashamed to say that this it what it took for me to realise how much I had taken her for granted throughout my life. Luckily she got out just before Christmas and is recovering well.
It is so easy for us to become acclimatised to things in our life and take them for granted. So many things we have are so special: family, friends, eyesight and being alive are all things to marvel at, but if you’re like me then you’ll take many of them for granted.
We may be pissed off because we don’t have the spouse we want, the career we want or whatever—negative visualisation allows us to see that whatever we lack is made up for ten fold by what we currently have. For those of us lucky enough to see the beauty of life before us, can you imagine not being able to see a sunset or the face of a loved one again? Try going half an hour without your eyes and see how much of a gift sight is There are so many invaluable gifts that can brighten up our lives and we end up taking them for granted. This doesn’t make us bad people, it’s just what happens when we don’t dedicate our attention to what is around us and are off chasing the next thing.
Negative visualisation is a simple Stoic technique that involves visualising your life deprived of something that is valuable; this could be your husband, wife, kids, job, home, you name it. I have always found this uncomfortable, but, we will have to deal with the impermanent nature of so many things during life, if this technique can help us to appreciate things more, then in my eyes it’s a good thing.
Building a negative visualisation practice in to our day helps us to stop and appreciate parts of our lives we may not see as so special. It can also help us to figure out what is important. When we really know where our priorities lie we can be true to ourselves.
It’s important to note that we shouldn’t fill most of our thoughts with gloomy or morbid ideas but a few minutes a day can help us to have more gratitude towards the wonderful things we have in life.
Try negative visualisation and see how it works for you. Write down 7 things that are important to you; over the next week pick one thing a day and spend five minutes thinking about how different your life would be without it.