Gratitude changes everything. Here are some ways I've used gratitude to make my life better in the last few hours:
1. I was looking at an income statement and feeling like it wasn't very high. Then I switched my mindset to say, "I'm so grateful for that income. A year ago I would have done anything to have that regular income (well, not anything, which is why I didn't have regular income... I wouldn't go so far as to get a "regular job" or train circus animals or peddle vacuums on a street corner). So anyways, I switched to a thankful place, and immediately felt so good about that income.
2. My husband did the dishes this morning. Amazing, right? But my inner critic who is often a fanatical perfection-oriented German when it comes to things being spic and span kept spotting bits of food and grease on the "clean" dishes. It took some inner work, but I switched into the mindset of feeling grateful that my husband does dishes, got up early to do them and made breakfast too.
3. My kids have another holiday (I swear they just had a 10 day break) and I was chomping at the bit to write to you. Rather than rush them out the door to play badminton, which is where they are now, I interacted with them, had some laughs and great conversations and felt grateful to connect with them. I'm grateful to have designed a life where I'm excited to work, where there are very few actual deadlines, and where I enjoy being with my kids.
See what gratitude can do for a mom/high-achiever/fanatical German cleaner with high expectations? In each instance, it offered me the opportunity to be more loving, gentle and patient with myself and those around me.
Gratitude is so important and that's why it's one of the 12 Courageous Self-Care Foundational Skill Sets. I'm always looking to grow my gratitude and I recently learned a new twist on a gratitude practice that I wanted to share with you.
The brain has a tendency to focus on the negative, which was necessary back in the days of spears, loin cloths and survival. The great news is that we no longer need to be in survival mode AND we can train our brain to focus on the positive.
The other day, the moment I chose to treasure was when I was in the car with my family. I was reading them a passage from the book I'm currently reading (Girl, Stop Apologizing - so good!) and then we talked about it from our own points of view.
In reflecting on the moment, I noticed the sight of my kids and husband happily chatting and contributing their ideas and the green leaves finally starting to emerge on the trees. I noticed the smell of May tree flowers. I noticed the feel of the book in my hands. I noticed the sound of my family's voices and their laughter. I didn't notice a taste, but I imagined the remnants of our tasty dinner on my tongue.
After going through the senses, I marinated in the moment for about 30 more seconds and then said the thank you part.
It's truly a magical practice and I encourage you to give it a try.
One thing I love about it is that as you go through the day, it's like you're on a treasure hunt for the moment you're going to savour later and it helps you be more mindful throughout the day. Plus, you feel like an roguish adventurer; safari gear included!
You can see how this practice is very different from simply writing something in a gratitude journal, or listing off by rote, "I'm grateful for my family and my home and my Rubix cube..." It gets all of you feeling more alive and exuberant about your life.
Give it a try. I guarantee it will amplify your happiness.
I'm wishing you a weekend filled with many moments jockeying for the spot of the most memorable. I'll be practicing feeling grateful for all the things we can do in the rain.
With loads of love and buckets full of courage,
PS - Two tantalizing podcast episodes went out this week. Click here to listen to The Distressed Goose - A Self-Care Parable and Stories of Courage & Self-Care with Cari Frame.
Do you ever feel like self-care is this mysterious thing you’ll get to someday, after you’re done taking care of everyone else? That’s a recipe for burnout! Check out the Courageous Self-Care Community to learn how to practice self-care that's not selfish.