This weekend is Halloween, and for most people celebrations will be very different this year.

They may not be happening at all.

Halloween is just the latest in a slew of events, big and small, that have been disrupted by the pandemic, and seven months in it’s safe to say we’re all exhausted and a bit fed up.

Add to this the nights drawing in and the weather getting colder and it would be all too easy to surrender to the feeling of overwhelm that many of us are experiencing. 

But now is actually when we need to switch our focus and delve into the goodness that life has to offer. Because as much as it feels the opposite sometimes, there are always things to celebrate and when the big things feel like they’re getting out of hand, it’s the perfect time to focus on the little things.

Gratitude Is An Attitude

You may have heard the adage that ‘gratitude is an attitude’ and it’s true. In fact, research has proven that practicing gratitude makes us more grateful overall. And at times like this, when there is arguably little we can control in the world, it’s important to focus on what we can control – and that’s our attitude.

Focusing on things that we are grateful for, no matter how big or small, is a wonderful way to shift our attitude into a more positive space. And the more positivity we’re able to curate in our lives, the easier it is to identify other positive things. 

This is why the practice of a gratitude journal can be so powerful. But you don’t have to make it as formal as a daily journal. You could simply set a reminder at the same time every day, and make note of one good thing that’s happened to you. This can be done alone, or you could make it part of a family ritual – perhaps get everyone to share their ‘one good thing’ (or however many you can think of) at breakfast, or before you go to bed. You could even turn it into a game and see how many each person can come up with, and whoever lists the most things gets a treat. 

There are other ways you can celebrate the little things too. Perhaps you could do something special to mark an event. This may have to be different to how you’d normally do it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as much fun. For Halloween, for example, instead of trick or treating, you could set up a scavenger hunt in your home for your children (or adults) to find some sweets. Maybe you could have a mini Halloween party with spooky snacks and themed music.

Don’t Fake It 'Til You Make It

It’s important to note that we’re not arguing that you should simply ‘turn that frown upside down’ because in reality there are a lot of real problems that we are all dealing with and simply ignoring negative emotions is not healthy. So if you’re feeling sad, angry, scared, hopeless, or anything else, that is absolutely OK, and you certainly shouldn’t beat yourself up for feeling that way. 

However, what research has shown is that if we can interrupt automatic negative thoughts, assess their credibility, and then replace them with something more realistic (because negative thoughts are almost always lies) then we can begin to shift our mindset towards being more positive on the whole. 

There are times when this will be more difficult than others. When things are trundling along OK, it’s fairly easy to focus on the positive and catch the negative thoughts when they sneak in. However, when it feels like one thing after the other is going wrong, holding onto that positive mindset becomes more challenging. This is where speaking to friends, family, or even a professional therapist can be useful, because sometimes just getting those worries off your chest can be a powerful step. 

But even if you don’t have immediate access to others, you can still take action on your own. If you have written a gratitude journal, why not look back and remind yourself of things in your life worth celebrating. In fact, writing a list of things you’re grateful for, things that bring you joy, and little things that you can celebrate is a great practice in itself. Once written it becomes a wonderful resource to look back on. 

And the beauty is that these things can be as big or small as you want – write about your loved ones, write about nature, or hobbies you love doing, write about happy events from the past or those coming up, catalogue all the foods you love to eat, chronicle some of the good news you’ve experienced, or make a note of shows/films/music that never fail to cheer you up.

As we say, no one can be on top of the world all the time, but there really is so much to celebrate in life, and right now it pays to celebrate the little things in whatever way you can.