Focusing attention on what we are grateful for in our lives has come up in conversation with two different friends in the past week. All three of us agreed that directing our attention away from what’s missing (what the head sees best) to what is present (what the heart sees best) increases happiness and tolerance. For example: Yes, it really sucks that you have a detached retina (my daughter a few years back) but we are very fortunate that there is a surgeon that specializes in retinal repair right here in our town and my insurance will cover the $22,000 surgery. Or, yes, I know it’s annoying that your brother hums off-key all the time, but see how happy he is?
We do a daily gratitude checklist at my house when we sit down for dinner together. We say grace. A rambling, multi-voiced, what do we appreciate about THIS day grace. It might sound something like this: Mom-Thank you God for my amazing, talented, creative, argumentative children, thank you for the food and the job that paid for the food, Son -thank you for no cat puke in my room, Daughter-thank you that the freshman didn’t mess up during marching practice, Son (freshman)-thank you that the upper classmen didn’t mess up during marching practice. Amen.
One of my friends does something similar with her family at dinner. They go around the table and each person reveals what was the most interesting part of the day and what was the most concerning part of the day. It started out as the best and worst part of the day, but that was too simple.
During some of the darker times of my life, I actually wrote out a list of 10 things everyday. Somedays it was really hard to think of 10 things. The list might have looked like this:
1) I’m glad I have a job.
2) I love my four children.
3) I’m glad they are not babies anymore.
4) I’m really glad I have hot and cold running water.
5) There were brownies in the break room and I didn’t have to buy a lunch.
6) I got 8 hours of sleep last night
7) The sun shone most of the day
8) The cats didn’t puke in the house (reoccurring theme)
9) I like my job most days
10) Did I mention that I love my kids?
Thankfully, my lists are a little more rich and abundant these days.
OK, now it’s your turn.
I’d love to see them. Put them in comments.
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