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How Lucky Are You?

The other day I went to the faucet to fill up my water bottle (trying to increase my water intake by the way) and I started to get ticked off that the water wasn’t cold enough. I kept it flowing for a while until it actually earned the moniker of “C” water temp.

In a moment of clarity, I thought of the people impacted by the horrible storms, with no running or drinking water. I quickly turned the faucet off. I thought of an intro phrase I often use with my clients…

Today, I Am Grateful for…

In this time of unsure and angry machinations in the White House; of horribly destructive storms unrelentingly impacting the entire planet; in these times where friends and families are being torn apart due to hateful exclusionary rhetoric and oppressive policies, we still have things to be grateful for. In my example, I had running water; for drinking, cleaning, and filling the dog’s water bowl.

In light of talking about being grateful, I find it important to say this strategy is offered to in no way diminish the pain that we navigate, through health, emotional, and financial crises. Being able to reflect on our gifts is ESPECIALLY important in these times. It does not erase them, but it does offer perspective.

Make a Gratitude List

And not to dummy this down but, let me take a moment to offer some examples of gratitude. Though not exhaustive, these examples might get you started. Gratitude is about the little things; your basic needs, like food, shelter, job/resources. And sometimes gratitude is about the bigger things; your relationship, your love of nature, the beauty of a blooming flower, the giggle of a child, or the hop of a puppy saying hello. 

Of course, everyone will have different ‘spins’ on what this list includes (there is actually no right or wrong, how cool is that?!) it is more about the practice of mindfully being aware of our gifts both small and big.

Think Positively Throughout the Day

So here we go, with the list of ‘to-dos’ on your Gratitude List. Try these four steps. Do it for a few days, and then a few more…I bet you’ll be hooked! I’d love to hear from folks how this might help a bit and offer some light to our dim or dark moments. Or you can share the strategy with a friend and keep the positivity moving!

  1. When you wake up, before you check your schedule or Facebook notifications, lay in bed for just another minute and make a mental list of the three things you’re most grateful for. If your phone is nearby (of course it’s nearby) log these in your notes section of your phone, and title it Gratitude (and date it).
  2. Try this at different points of the day. If you’re in a traffic jam or an unbelievably irritating work meeting (of course, most work meetings are blissful), or while experiencing a tough conversation with your kids or your spouse. In this moment, I am grateful for… It’s like a pause button and mindfulness exercise fused together – pretty cool!
  3. Do this gratitude list as you are going to sleep. “Today I was grateful when…” “I am thankful for…” This allows you to close the day with positivity, which will most definitely help your sleep quality.
  4. Rinse and repeat; practice makes perfect; yada-yada-yada. Much like mindfulness practice or meditative efforts, practicing and repeating makes generating your Gratitude List a more natural habit. It can offer you solace, balance, and perspective.

I fully believe if you try this and make it a bit of a habit, you will see your edge soften, your load feel lighter, and your patience for yourself and for others grow. Maybe not all three at once, but hey, this is about growth, not perfection! Good luck, and let me know how it works out for you!

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Philip has more than 20 years of experience as both a counseling psychologist and a clinical supervisor for aspiring psychologists. He operates a private practice out of Center City, Philadelphia, where he meets with clients for individual, couples, or family therapy.