Start each day with a thankful thought... go on, try it!
This is what a dear friend of mine shared with me when my hubs and I were going through a particularly challenging time with T’s feeding journey. I didn’t find the idea offensive, in fact, I would say I am an optimistic person, a thankful person, and one who does attempt to take time to enjoy the small things. So why did it pose such a big deal to me?
I mean all she was asking me to do was to write it down and to think about it throughout my day.
To be honest, I guess at that time I wasn't feeling very thankful. I was stressed, I was upset, I had no control, I was scared. It was easy for me to focus on all my T’s deficits or the delays in meeting milestones in a typical time frame. Even when T would meet a goal, I couldn't help but think “Wow, that took way longer than I thought it would.” I think we too often size achievements by our own experiences and standards. We minimalize the extraordinary into ordinary (or worse still into underachievement). We forget to empathize and take time to explore a different perspective. It’s just too easy to get stuck in negative thoughts.
We need to practice getting out of them, practice finding joy at the moment, practice thankfulness.
These occasions will no doubt come many times in our lives and we need to arm ourselves with the power of thankful thinking. Taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, focusing on the noises around you, and relaxing your mind to think of what at that moment you can be thankful for. And after a little while, the floodgates start to open.
Once the thankful thoughts start, they push out all the negative thoughts and they guide you to seeing all the amazing things that you have maybe started to take for granted - or always have taken for granted. I can tell you that this simple exercise in training my mind to be focused on what I actually have to be thankful for has changed my ability to handle many of the hurdles life has thrown my way. Hurdles ranging from the small to the life-changing, and even to the Covid-19 pandemic!
A look at the news headlines today can make us question what we have to be thankful for.
Life in 2020 has been HARD. In these times it's especially hard to feel thankful. But it is times like these we have to double down on our efforts to be thankful. Thankfulness helps us see that there is so much out there than what we are going through. It enables us to look outside ourselves, our family, our unit, and open our eyes to the struggles beyond our bubble. Just last week, I experienced a racially motivated verbal attack in one of my rare departures from home during COVID.
I could easily have let this feed fear and doubt and avoid leaving my home even more. Instead, I took a moment in my car, took a few deep breaths, and realized what I really needed to do was appreciate that person must have been having a really tough time. For me, that meant praying for peace for them and being thankful for the security I have.
When we start our day with a positive outward thankful thought, we can build on that thought throughout our day…
While we have coffee, while we help the kiddos, while we take on a tough task. That thankful seed permeates and sticks with us so we can keep putting our best foot forward. I have never been a journal writer, (oh how I envy you that do), but during this month maybe a practice we can all follow would be to start our day with a thankful thought….and write it down! They don’t have to be huge, life-changing events.
They can be as simple as the relaxation of a hot shower on a cold morning, a green traffic signal when you are running late, a reliable wifi connection (that one is for the work from home-ers!), or snuggling into a comfy bed at night. And feel free to mix things up. Maybe take photos of things that you are thankful for, or try writing to somebody to let them know how thankful you are for them. I am sure it will not only brighten their day but yours too!
Like anything that's worth it, you have to work at it. So take time this month and work at being thankful and let the floodgates open!
Have a fantastic November