Jozi Food Whore

One short food & travel whore, one long adventure

In Pursuit of Gratitude

Using Travel to Recode DNA?

Thoughts from a cynical person


If I’m being honest, I am a severe cynic and pessimist. It’s not a particularly great element of my nature or personality. Since admitting this to myself, I’ve also found out that cynics/pessimists die sooner, and are more likely to fail than optimists (basically, because we believe we will fail). And more unbelievably, I’ve also discovered there is a lot of research that suggests that negativity of this sort is to a large degree a genetically inherited disposition.


This came as a major shock to me. Up until that point, I had been battling long and hard to “be more positive”. Battling! People telling me “Don’t always dread the negative outcome” or “Why do you always expect the worst of people?” would be met with “Experience has taught me…” but no. Not actually. Experience has not taught me that. It’s only those bits that got saved and archived in my “experience” folder. Genetics may very well be stopping me from seeing that for the most part, people are good and good things happen more often than bad things!


This is not crazy pseudo-science. Go ahead and Google it. I first started hearing and learning about it while I was subscribed to the Calm app (a leetle too expensive for me to opt in again), and listened to a Happiness Masterclass by Shawn Achor. After this discovery, I’ve been reading up a lot on the topic.


So what the heck do you do when your genetic coding means you are predisposed to seeing the bad, and likely to miss the good?! When your genetic programming and all the continually supporting “evidence” you find means you’re quite possibly going to die sooner, or have a dread disease, or become a whole self-fulfilling prophesy on legs?!?!


Recognise any of this in yourself? Let me tell you, it’s not an easy road for us, my friend! Those habits and thoughts and reactions are heavily ingrained, and if it’s your genetic coding, you are defaulting to it easier than the “bright side of life”-ers.


The discovery of the genetics of the matter made for dark days in my life. I tossed my gratitude journal and succumbed to about as much negativity as is possible for me. Those few months were not exactly fun. And my partner, a most positive and optimistic individual, looked on in a fair amount of confusion at the dark cloud that was me. Darkest. Days. Yet.


Though I may be a cynic, I’m also someone who likes to arm myself with information (Hurrah for me recognising something I’m good at, by the way). This helps me make sense of my world and handle unexpected things a little better. Even though I was in a dark cloud, I was also aware that this was just not good enough. So I kept reading and researching. And, in a bit of beautiful positivity, it’s not all bad news after all! You have to smile.


Yes, we’re fighting genetic coding and it makes it a whole world tougher on us. However, we can (very slowly but surely) recode our reactions and perspectives and outlook on life. We can. It’s called Neuroplasticity. I dunno. Maybe this is helluva old news but for me, this has been NEWS. Actually, neuroplasticity is way bigger than just turning your negativity around but we’re not about that here today.


So, how can I make all of the above information work for me? Really work for me. Not have me mission all day every day to force myself to be a brighter, sunshinier version of myself, but to have it work for me in such a way that I am making progress without sweating and setting 10 reminders? (Okay but still, you should do some of that too, e.g. exercise and apps. Check out an app called Gratitude which is amazing and has important elements available for free).


Big, bold, in-your-face dramatic changes can do wonders. It’s the unstoppable force we need. And that’s more than just a new haircut. It’s putting yourself in a whole new environment. Taking yourself out of your zone, and going somewhere completely new and different. And then looking for the “wow” stuff. And doing it regularly, consistently.


Instead of “Oh no, it looks like it might rain” it’s “How incredibly green is it here? Must be all the rain!”. Rather than “Do we seriously need a flat tyre right now?! This is a disaster.” it’s “It’s not awesome but if we hadn’t been forced to stop here we would never have noticed this amazing view”. It seems like a cliché (it kinda is), but before you realise it, you’ll be spouting things like “This impala has such incredible lashes” or “I think this may be one of the best coffees I’ve had in recent memory” without even repositioning or thinking about what you’re about to utter. It will just be good. You will start reprogramming your knee-jerk reactions to be good. It will take time. And you have to keep at it (travel more!) and you have to be consistent.


As if you ever needed more reasons to travel!



[[DISCLAIMER: I am not a health or medical practitioner of any kind. The views expressed in this article are my own unless referenced, and are based on my own findings from reading, research, and experiences I have had. It is important to consider seeking professional advice or assistance if you are in a mental space that feels overwhelming, or you are struggling to cope. It’s okay to say “I can’t” and reach out.]]

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