Being thankful… what a concept! When this notion was first introduced to me it seemed I was being asked to do the impossible. I had two very base and explicit words for people who would offend or inconvenience me. Don’t we all? And here was my mentor suggesting I adopt an attitude of “thankfulness for all things“. I promise you, this was not something that came naturally and easily. In fact, I had to resort to the old “fake-it-’til-you-make-it” technique and yes, I was positively annoying!
“Oh thank you!” I would gush when insulted by a co-worker.
“Well thank, you thank you, thank you!” as the rain fell on my bike ride.
I let the pendulum swing WAY over to the other side of my usual expression. But, in pretty short order, it did swing back, just not all the way. An attitude of gratitude had found a way into my psyche. Over time I learned that this seeming goody-goody approach to life was actually a very clever technique in disguise; a technique for honing perception, keeping the decks clear of emotion (particularly negative emotion) that would otherwise cloud the information ready to be accessed.
If somebody were to tell you “you always do such and such”, would you be able to receive the information as just that; information? Would you be willing to consider the validity of their perception? I know! If it’s flattering, well absolutely they must be right! But if what they had to say is insulting, no way! What do they know anyway? What if you were to receive that information with thanks?
Oh you are so smart! That’s an easy one. Thank you!
But, Oh you are so stubborn! … Thank you? Imagine being thankful for hurt feelings, sadness, tragedy and despair. It can be and is done all the time. It’s not a matter of denial. Nor is it developing a “Pollyanna” state of mind Oh it’s just all so wonderful! Rather it is a shift in perception that allows one to gather information and work creatively with it, free of all their entrenched emotional reactions. If you’re panicked in a fire, clamouring to escape, you are bound to run into a wall. If you remain calm and focus on finding the door, you likely will.
After thirty-plus years, is it a natural reaction for me? No. But, I can go there in a hurry. I can make that choice. Hey, there it is again… choice! We have a choice. Combine that with a sense of humor and you can have fun with this.
Go ahead, mock the idea, mock yourself as you try it on, mock me for writing about it. Thank you! On the other side of your discomfort is information about the world around you and that can only be useful.
Here’s a woowoo tip for you. A good starting place is being thankful for the obvious, right here, right now; thankful for the sunshine, thankful for your friends, thankful for the parts of your body that still work! It’s always a great place to orient to, when circumstances defy your capacity for thankfulness. Counting your blessings is a great way to fall to sleep at night.
THANK YOU for reading this!
Related article: Perspective and Perception