Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I don’t share much about my personal life here, but an incident last Sunday afternoon inspired this post. It had been just another Sunday, taking care of chores and the daily incidentals, when a neighbor frantically knocked on my front door, screaming. My son was sitting up in the middle of the road a few doors from our house, screaming, blood pouring from his mouth. He’d been hit by a large pick-up while he was on his bike. After an ambulance ride and an evening in the E.R., he was clearly in much better condition than we had any right to expect or hope for, given what had happened. He walked away from the incident with a fractured upper jaw, a few broken teeth, and a consultation appointment with an oral surgeon, plus a lot of bumps and bruises. He’s got a decent recovery ahead of him, but he’ll be fine and healthy.
I’m not good with gratitude, regardless of how hard I try. I have a tendency to see the glass as half-empty, worrying over everything. Spending an evening being reminded, even while I worried over pain medication and plastic surgery consultations, that I was amazingly fortunate may have changed that perspective. I know that the next few weeks and months will be stressful, as we manage insurance companies and treatment plans, but I still have a little boy with legos underfoot and overly long talks about Tolkein and Harry Potter.
Now, there’s a reason I’m sharing this, and it’s not to get sympathy for the fact that I’ve been up every two or three hours to dose a hurting child with pain medication for the last two nights. I’m going to talk just a little bit about gratitude. Psychologists tell us that simply practicing gratitude and learning to be thankful for what you have will increase your overall happiness substantially. I think it’s fair to say that we all hope to be happier, regardless of the challenges and struggles in our own lives.
I’m challenging all of you and myself to make a few simple changes in our daily lives, in the hopes of being happier and more fulfilled. These don’t have to be forever and committing for changes forever is never an easy task. Research varies on how long it takes to form a habit, so I’m going to go long with this one and ask for 100 days. That seems like a nice round number. Gratitude doesn’t necessarily happen naturally, and it is something you need to work at and practice, ideally daily. While your gratitude practice can resemble prayer or meditation, it certainly doesn’t have to, if it doesn’t suit your belief system.
Claim just a few minutes in the morning and evening for a gratitude practice. Each morning, sit in silence and think about the things you have to be thankful for and express that gratitude to the universe. Before bed each night, write down at least three things you are grateful for that day. Sometimes these may be big things--health, a job, a roof over your head. At other times, they can be small or minor things, like a perfectly frosted cupcake, a new dress, or lingerie that makes your body look just the way you prefer. Take the time to say thank you to those around you, both in large and small ways. Thank your partner for her love and support, thank your best girlfriend for always being there for you when you need a night of margaritas and brownies, or thank your cat for listening when you need someone to hear and not respond. Take the time to say thank you for good service when you’re shopping or to send a note to a business that has always given you their best.
Will this change anything in your life, in mine? I don’t know. I’m good, but I’m not quite psychic-good. I don’t think it will hurt any of us to recognize the good in our lives and our world, even when it’s sometimes hard to see, and maybe we’ll all be a bit happier after this experiment. So, early this morning, I am grateful for the oxycodone that is letting a hurt little boy sleep and for the job that allows me to be here to care for him, without worry about my income. I am grateful for the friends and family that have shown up at my door with meals and new toys, and for the classmates that have showered him with handmade get-well cards. I even have it within me to manage to be grateful for the cold, rainy day that lends itself to making a pot of soup and snuggling under a quilt while watching yet another movie. What are you grateful for today?
Posted by Cupcake at 7:20 AM