Gratitude? Drag me kicking and howling, please.

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When I start hearing phrases like "You need to count your blessings," as whining invectives -- well, then I know it is time to count my blessings. When I start resisting gratitude, I know something has soured up inside, and I am about to see the world through ikk-colored glasses.

I am no one's idea of Pollyanna. The very thought of matching that name with my own would have my friends double over in paroxysms of guffaws.

But I know when I should be focusing on that for which I am thankful.

I have a cold this week. I spend most hours sneezing and coughing. I have yet to find a house to buy in Massachusetts. I am still unravelling issues of identity theft. Life has just felt congested with a zillion discordant details lately.

So I find myself getting wound up in "the miserables" -- focussing on what is not happening in my life, looking at the holes in the fabric of things, comparing my self to others whose lives seen suddenly enviable.

This edging into the Shadowy Side, this pirouette towards The Blues, this unhealthy little dance near the abyss is so seductive. Poooooooor me. But it can feel so warm and cozy in the victim's softly padded armchair, can't it? Pass the Kleenex, hand me some chocolate and put on a sad song. Drama's at the door, and I want to win an Oscar.

Here is what I wrote in my personal blog lately about the result of the fact that I was not being thankful.: life ended up spinning toward difficult thoughts instead of having built in a balance, a background against which the tougher things in life could be considered and handled.

That made my life an odd drawing of stick figures and buildings with no ground to stand on and no sky to look up to. No wonder it felt off-kilter.

Gratitude is the foundation. It is the bedrock. The earth. It is Ground Zero. It is the "go-to" place when no other place is.

When I feel horrible, gratitude seems foolish, trivial, punky. When I am sad, angry, confused, depressed -- gratitude seems inconsequential, unimportant, namby-pamby.

But the point is, gratitude is essential. There is no perspective without it. Try it. Right now. Despite how foolish it may or may not feel to you. Here is what I suggest:

1. Sense how you are feeling for a few seconds. Don't judge it, just feel it.

2. Write down 10 things for which you are thankful. They can be large or small. But there MUST be 10. If it is hard, there still must be 10.

3. Write down 2 more.

4. Read your list and take a breath.

5. Check in again about how you feel -- any subtle changes? Pay attention through the day. Let yourself linger over the list in your mind once or twice. Let it change the edges of things.

I am finding that gratitude is enabling positive action for me -- action that was mired down without it. Please comment about gratitude and how you build it in, or not...

My goal now is to have a gratitude moment right before I sleep and as soon as I awake.

Even before coffee :-)


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