People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Be grateful, not hateful. Embrace reality. (The alternative, to fight it, stinks.)
Gratitude. When we shift our mindset into a place of thankfulness, our perspective shifts. This is not because we pretend that certain struggles don’t exist, or because we deny or ignore them, but because we are able to balance the negative with recognition of the positive.
With the right lens, we can see the many blessings and good growth that surfaces from trouble. We’ve all heard about rose-colored glasses. Where do they come from? Are they learned? Is it grace? I’m not sure, but I think both. I can say from experience that awareness and practice help cultivate a better life. The grass is greenest where we water it, a therapist friend reminds me.
You do need to reach for the rose-colored glasses and put them on, though. The action of doing this will shift your mindset into the positive. A simple “thank you” can eradicate worry and filter in joy. Giving thanks is at the core of every spiritual tradition. I love the Native American practice just before a person is about to take the life of an animal or a tree. They first give thanks for the sacrifice being made on their behalf. I was raised saying grace and giving thanks at dinner time. As I write this, I think to myself, I need to honor this tradition by practicing it, not admiring it.
Twenty years ago, a friend endured a year she describes as her “annus horribilis.” (“Horrible year” in Latin, the Queen of England once used this term to describe a challenging time for the royal family.) In this annus horribilis, my friend lost both her young parents, her beloved mother-in-law died, and she finalized a divorce. She later shared her saving grace with me: each day, she intentionally found three things for which to be grateful. She still practices gratitude today and everyday while walking or having her coffee. My friend says she doesn’t meditate, but that’s exactly what she is doing.
Here are three mindful practices for you to choose from today. I’ve also linked to more on gratitude at the bottom. But, if you only have twenty minutes today, please put your practice first, remembering that reading about gratitude does not change your heart or your head. Practicing it does.
- Write a thank-you email or note today to someone for whom you are grateful, or whose kindness has meant something to you.
- Find a pen and paper and write for 15 minutes. Identify one problem or frustration in your life. Describe the challenge in the first few sentences. Then, identify and write about the wonderful blessings beneath that.
- Make a list of 25 things you are grateful for, big and small. Friends, kind gestures, chirping birds, spring light. Complete a whole page. Or two. Then go back and give thanks, silently or aloud, for each one. Notice how this makes you feel.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.” – Melody Beatty
“I thank God for my handicaps. For through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.” – Helen Keller
More on gratitude:
Please share your “results” in comments. Your practice today will have a positive ripple effect.