Welcome back! This week we are taking a break from our series “Pain and Suffering” to reflect, and decide to be grateful. Because it IS a decision.
Come…join me for a cup of coffee. Let’s chat.
Mindful Gratitude. What does that mean, exactly?
Some would surmise that it means remembering to be grateful in a world that is often running so fast around us, that we are challenged to slow down enough to do so. There’s another way to see this, but it takes some thought and it takes a desire to work at looking at life in an upside down kind of way.
Be grateful for the curse. Yes, that’s what I said. Be grateful for that which you would normally curse. Your husband is snoring? Be thankful he’s alive and breathing. Your wife is upset that you are trying to find the solution instead of simply listening to the problems in her life? Be grateful she trusts you enough to confide in you. It’s so easy to be grateful for that which instantly pleases us. It’s a lot more difficult to look at that which upsets us, and find the hidden value in the curse.
Our lives are often not what we thought they would be. We believe in the magic and fairytales of our youth, and when adulthood hits, it’s ugly. We look around and say, “What exactly is THIS?”. It’s not what we thought it would be. Expectations aren’t met, and suddenly being grateful is at best, difficult and at worst, impossible. Depression is right behind unmet expectations, and suddenly we find ourselves mired in negative thoughts, which lead to negative actions, which spread out to those around us, our friends and colleagues, and those we love. We start to lose our ability to find a reason to get up in the morning. Suddenly, our reasons for living become few and far between. We find ourselves stuck on a treadmill of work, eat, sleep, repeat.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. Finding the beauty and the joy in life is simple, if you learn to love the unloveable. Being grateful for the curse is as simple as deciding that nothing in our lives is “bad” rather, everything in our lives has a purpose. That traffic jam ahead of you that’s causing your blood pressure to go up? It’s actually keeping you from being involved in a nasty accident, had you sped along at 75mph with nothing to slow you down. That awful head cold you contracted? It’s purpose is to give your spouse the ability to show their love for you as they give you their time and attention. No spouse to give you time and attention? Life is showing you that you are capable of taking care of yourself. What a blessing!
Our mindset is what guides our ability to be grateful. Not our experiences or our unmet expectations. Life isn’t happening TO us. WE are creating our life. It is us. The power to be happy or unhappy, grateful or miserable, lives within us. It’s a huge responsibility to be sure…reminding ourselves to be joyful, upbeat, positive, and grateful for the curse. Who wants to do that? It takes work! But the outcome is so worth it.
Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine’s student government has put together a Mental Health Task Force at their school. Each week they do a “Lunch and Learn” and one week, the topic was “Mindfulness and Gratitude”. They discovered that Mindful Gratitude can reduce physician burnout. Yep…it’s a thing. The students use a meditation CD, and for 7 minutes practice mindful meditation. It’s meant to reduce stress and increase happiness. What a concept. Seven minutes of “me time” to reduce stress can increase gratitude and therefore increase happiness. It’s not much to ask of oneself, and it could potentially save your life.
Mindful gratitude is nothing without internal commitment to feeling better about ourselves. When we commit to feeling better about ourselves, it is only then that we start to feel better about others. When we start to feel better about others, we decide that the world is a truly wonderful place, a place worth being in…a place to belong, thrive, and with that comes the desire to succeed in life.
The goal is to live a life of abundance. When we feel as though there is abundance in our life, that is when we have the ability to reach out to others, to share our lives with them, and to play nice in the sandbox, so to speak.
This holiday season, I challenge each of you to make a list of that which you considered a curse in your life this past year….a place where you found yourself lacking, whether it be personally, or professionally, and try to turn it around to a position of thankfulness. You’d be surprised how good it feels. Remember…Roses don’t have thorns…thorns…have roses. Stop to smell one…you won’t regret it.
I am grateful for your blog this week…well said!
As always, Dr. Ross, you are too kind. Thank you. Coming from you, that is truly wonderful…