MONDAY BYTES — November 23, 2015
It’s a little odd that we reserve this one Thursday in November to be thankful.
What if we built a thankfulness habit into our daily life practice, like brushing our teeth, playing scales, or doing our morning walk?
This isn’t simply about being polite and saying “thank you.” To be genuinely thankful requires being fully present.
And most of the time we aren’t fully present. We’re too busy in our own heads projecting into the future or obsessing over the past. We daydream about either what we’d like to have happen, or (more often) worry over what we’re afraid will happen.
Many of us spend a surprisingly high percentage of our waking hours manufacturing our own stress by:
1. mental list making: worrying over what needs to be taken care of next, and
2. worrying over what people are thinking or saying about us, or
3. obsessing over what they have said or thought about us, or
4. otherwise beating ourselves up over our shortcomings and fallibilities, or
5. complaining about people or situations beyond our control.
When we focus on future or past stressors it prevents us from being fully present, of bringing our best selves forward and doing our best work in the NOW.
Being thankful can short circuit the obsessive self-talk that keeps us focused on how we are being treated or perceived. Being thankful is about directing our attention to the gifts in our lives: the people, circumstances, and beauty we otherwise take for granted. It opens the doors to our making positive changes.
This week: build your thankfulness habit. Try being present in the morning when you first go outside — take a few moments to breathe and to look around you. Notice the gifts of the day, how you feel in your body, and what you appreciate in your surroundings. Try saying out loud or in your head what specifically your grateful for.
Then later in the day, try bringing yourself back to that “thankfulness place” — remembering what you found to be thankful for — try this before you start practicing, rehearsing, teaching, interacting with others. Notice the effect it has on your breathing, your outlook, your focus.
This simple habit can change the quality of your interactions with others and the quality of your work. A whole life is made up of such habits: they determine the quality of that life.
PS: Want some extra quick help with getting your gratitude on? Watch Oprah’s short video on keeping a gratitude journal.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well