Growing up, our overachiever family placed a high value on competency. Often that translated into a critical mindset toward self and others, where we frequently saw the bad before the good.
This way of being, like all patterns, became habitual for many of my siblings. And as my father’s daughter and a champion of “let’s make it the best,” it’s a tendency I’ve been unraveling for years.
When you walk into a room and see your child working on a science project, greet your partner at the end of the day after a big presentation, or receive an email update about a work project, do you see what’s going “right” or immediately look for what’s going “wrong?”
Cultivating a gratitude practice has helped me to shift my perspective and see the gifts in any situation–even those that look horribly astray. An attitude of gratitude doesn’t come naturally to us. It was something I had to learn, to bring my attention and focus to, and to practice, practice, practice. I chose to focus on this mindfulness practice because I know from my good friend/positive psychology researcher Dr. Christine Carter (and from first-hand experience), it’s one of the fastest ways to FEEL GOOD. And to help those around us feel good, too.
I witnessed this recently while leading a women’s retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. It was a Saturday afternoon, the retreat was half over and I could sense some of the women experiencing a contrast between the amazing connection they were feeling at the retreat and how this compared to life at home. So we hit the pause button and took some time for gratitude sharing. Within 15 minutes the energy of the entire group had shifted. I could feel it–we all could. It was as if someone had poured liquid sunshine over our heads. We were smiling, connected, heart-centered and happy.
Three ways my family actively cultivates an attitude of gratitude include:
- Communicating from our hearts, rather than our heads: analytical criticism shuts others down, while gratitude and loving kindness makes us feel more open and appreciative of one another.
- Faking it until we feel it: when we’re stuck, grumpy or feeling irritable, one of us challenges the others to share one thing we’re grateful for and we continue this “round robin” style until we’re freely sharing all the things we have to celebrate. It may feel corny at first, but try it. It works every time, I promise.
- Spreading the gratitude virus: expressing gratitude is contagious. We feed on one another. It’s like dropping a pebble in a pond. Being thankful begets thankfulness: at home, at work, at school, during carpool, on conference calls and waiting in line at the grocery store.
Voicing what we’re grateful for heightens our mood, shifts and broadens our perspective and supports us in remembering what really matters. It’s a gift that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. And it’s one I’m incredibly grateful for.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOU? HERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES:
- Schedule me to plan/facilitate a custom workshop or retreat for your company, team or organization on work-life alignment, resiliency or self-renewal. Learn more and email me at email@example.com to discuss your next event. I am booking into 2021 now!
- Ready to explore/embrace new ways of being in 2020? In transition and seeking clarity/support and a weekend of deep to-the-bones renewal? Come replenish with like-minded women at my New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat: Jan. 24-26 at Kripalu in the MA Berkshire Mountains (highly recommended!). Almost sold out-don’t delay!
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups for women based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 17-year-old son. More on Renee here.