TTC: My washing machine broke this week. It’s been unwell for a while and I’ve been in denial, ignoring it. The haunting clanking noise it’s been making has gone on for months, and then on Tuesday it gave up the ghost. Annoying.

On Friday I left my house to teach a yoga class and I forgot my phone, which has all my music on it. So I had to turn around, in rush hour traffic, and go get it. Doubly annoying.

I don’t know about you, but for me it’s the little things that I have to deal with that ratchets up the stress.

You don’t need more stress

When you’re on a TTC journey there is already enough going on that makes you feel out of control. When you heap all the small annoyances on top of these, that overwhelming feeling of stress and frustration gradually builds up. For example:

  • Someone cuts in front of you in the car
  • Your hair dryer breaks
  • You run out of juice on your phone
  • Your meeting runs over and you don’t get to the gym
  • Your partner constantly leaves their shoes on the table
  • They run out of your favourite ice cream at the supermarket

Each of these, by themselves, are small and inconsequential. But when you add them all up, they’re really annoying. They add to your sense of dis(ease), on top of having to deal with the really hard stuff, like fertility issues.

‘Imagine life without this’

I want to share a tool with you called ‘Imagine life without this,’ which I learnt from Nataly Kogan, the founder of Happier.com. In her excellent new book, Happier Now she tells us that when the small annoyances happen, we need to be aware of them. Instead of reacting to them, we need to pause, and take a minute to imagine life without that thing in it.

For example, imagine life without a car to drive you to work? Or that hair dryer that you use every morning? Imagine not having a job to go to, or phone that connects you, or a loving partner in your life? Imagine life without ice cream? (OK, now we’ve gone too far …)

What this tool does is remind me that I am surrounded by wonderful things every day. I have a car, and I live in a great city, so of course there will be traffic. And I have a phone and a job that supports my lifestyle.

Nataly says, “I’m not asking you to be happy about the traffic or your phone that runs out of juice. I’m just asking you to remind yourself what your life would be like without these things in it.”

This is the practice of gratitude

When you ask yourself to pause and appreciate something you already have in your life as you TTC – it builds gratitude. And this is so powerful because your brain has a natural negativity bias. It loves to focus on what is wrong. You notice things that are annoying and frustrating much more than the good stuff.

Practicing, ‘Imagine life without this?’ asks the brain to move off negativity and instead focus on something good. Gratitude floods the brain with serotonin and dopamine – and you start to feel better. Not only this, but you’re able to develop more resilience when faced with adversity.

So, in case you’re wondering. Yes, I have a new found sense of gratitude towards my broken washing machine. I’ll get it fixed, because I can’t imagine my life without it.

*TTC Trying To Conceive