Create a place for hope to flourish

A suggestion to practice gratitude may sound cliche or even feel annoying when we’re overwhelmed or in a mental or emotional crisis. Things become cliche, though, because so may people have found them to be true or helpful. If the idea of focusing on gratitude rubs us the wrong way, it may be the right time to humble ourselves and take the advice!

As Nicole Bayes-Fleming states so poetically in her recent article in Mindful magazine, “It’s not always easy to notice the good — practicing gratitude can provide a small resting place for hope to flourish in our hectic lives.”

We humans find it so easy to notice the things that aren’t going well, but what if we pause, take a breath, and notice what hasn’t gone wrong? That simple action can reset our course towards a sense of wellbeing. Building on that action can return us to joy.

A recent, violent thunderstorm during my evening drive home had me gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and fearing that the trees overhead might fall on my car. I was able to relax my grip when I said, “I’m grateful to be inside this safe car with a full tank of gas. I am dry and protected. Those beautiful old trees have stood strong for decades.” My sense of hopefulness and blessing returned!

But almost instantly, my thoughts turned negative: “I was planning to weed the garden and plant the new flowers I bought, but this rain means I can’t. When will I find time to do that?” I took another deep breath and realized, “This bountiful rain means that I won’t need to water the garden in the morning and can enjoy a nice walk to start my day in the sunshine. The planting can wait.”

I enjoyed my free time by cooking a nourishing dinner. I was grateful for that rather dramatic storm for helping me to focus on the small, but truly important things in my life.

Mindfully yours,

Dr. Pamm