Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Training Your Focus

Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture. ~Kak Sri

Christmas is right around the corner, as well as filling the shelves in every store, and we've gotten past Thanksgiving, when we've thought of everything we're grateful for, and have counted our blessings. 

You’ve heard the song Count Your Blessings: 

♫ Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings;
See what God hath done.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done. ♫

Even if you personally don’t ascribe a spiritual value to the blessings in your life, even if you don’t call them “blessings,” but think of them as Good Things That Happen, you’re thankful for them. You’ve labeled them good, something to be grateful for. You recognize that they have value and they benefit you.

The problem is, sometimes we can get so caught up in the chaos of life; the problems at work, the car breaking down, the death of a loved one, the tragedy in a friend’s life, the catastrophic weather, the pink slip from an employer…that we fail to recognize the blessings in our lives, especially the small, seemingly inconsequential ones.

And sometimes it can be the very mundane, everyday, run-of-the-mill experiences in life that, day after day, wear on our spirits like ocean water on a seashell. 

But have you ever noticed seashells, the shiny ones you find washed up on the beach, a trillion shades of cream and yellow? Have you ever noticed how smooth they feel, how they reflect the light, and that’s how you found them? 

They’ve been polished, and edges smoothed out, by those same ocean waves that wore them down. Greater beauty has come from that slight friction of the water against the hard, rough shell. 

That’s how our everyday life itself can shape us and mold us into the person we are each meant to be. All those little things that happen day in and day out, those minor irritations we deal with, don’t have to bring us down, if we look at them from another angle.

Instead of seeing the troubles and annoyances, look again, and see the blessings. It’s a matter of training yourself to focus not on the negative, but the positive. 

And yes, we’re going to fail; we’re human, after all. But just as with anything else, it takes time, practice, and reminders. 

And when we make a habit of looking at our situation and finding the good in it, seeking out the blessings, then having a thankful heart soon becomes second nature and you can’t help but have an “attitude of gratitude.” 

One night about two years ago, I looked around the house and saw all the laundry needing to be done, the mess in the kitchen, and I still hadn’t even decided what to make for supper. Feeling weary and somewhat overwhelmed at all the undone work to do, suddenly my “Thankful Seeker” kicked in and I started thinking of the blessings I was grateful for. 

A poem came to me and I sat down, wrote it, and went back to the kitchen and my kids, feeling light as a feather. And very thankful as peace settled into my soul. 

My Messy House

My house is a mess,
No silverware clean;
The laundry piled up
By the washing machine. 
The pans on the stove
Are crusty and cold,
While a bowl in the fridge
Slowly grows mold.
Cobwebs in corners 
And pillows on floors;
Smears on the mirrors 
And smudges on doors.
I look at all this,
Wondering what I should do;
But seeing my kids
Always gives me a clue:
I’ll make them some supper, 
It’s pizza tonight!
Have them all help me
And to my delight,
I’ll hear them all chatter
Like little grey squirrels;
Believe it or not,
The boys more than the girls!
We’ll cook it together
And as if with a wand,
I’ll forget all the mess,
For I’m building a bond.

~VJC 10.24.13~