Have you ever walked around all day in the attitude of gratitude?
It’s kind of a weird thing to do. I have done this to increase my mindfulness. For me it looked like this – something frustrating would happen and then I would try to be grateful for that thing. I had to look at how the frustrating thing was a gift.
It was stilted and foreign but I made it through the day. The interesting thing I got out of it was to focus on how negative things can be beneficial. Which is paradigm shifting. Sometimes it was an issue of increasing my understanding of another person or myself, and sometimes it really increased my availability to patience.
It definitely allowed for me to re-frame situations and choose to respond to the situation and people differently.
The most revealing aspect of this was in my relationship to myself and those really close to me. I found that I actually felt happier with my place in the world and how I went about my days – and I found that it really strengthened my relationships because I was not just pointing out what wasn’t working but I was aligning with, and identifying, and really acknowledging what was really fantastic about what was working.
This gave me a background of gratitude and connection for the foreground or figure of what wasn’t working. It allowed a space for the not-working thing to be addressed within a more positive context.
I think, through this action, more collaborative work can be accomplished because people don’t feel defensive, they feel connected.
In order to help in re-framing your world, part of what you have to do is stay cognizant of what is working.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that people have a tendency to focus on what isn’t working rather than what is. I think that has something to do with wanting to catch things before they get out of balance. And it is good to be vigilant about such things, but what helps us maintain balance is being aware of both at once in their proper perspective.
This is especially true in parenting. We need to be pointing out what our children need to work on so that they can be more successful in their lives – BUT we also need to be vigilant at pointing out what they are doing well.
This is essential to keep their self-esteem strong, to teach perseverance, and to help them see the whole picture, their strengths and their limitations.
Too much praise and not enough critical direction and they are selfish, egotistical, unable to tolerate any normal defeat, and unwilling to work hard for success. Too much critical direction and not enough praise and they have problems believing in their skills and will give up easily, and not be able to stick to things through defeat. Erring on either side is problematic.
Practice having the attitude of gratitude; and see what you learn about how much you really do have going for you. Teach it to your kids it helps to normalize their everyday trials and tribulations.
Start out by just noticing everything in your work, life, family, and children that is working, that is right, or that you are grateful for being/having that way.
And then, comment out loud about how grateful you are about those positive things. It’s also a good place to begin to build or re-build connections.
Try it for a whole day.
See you tomorrow.