by Kristin Kuiper, LMSW, MSW
With this holiday approaching next week, I’ve heard the word “gratitude” coming up more frequently around me—in friendships, at work, and believe it or not, on Facebook. I’ve noticed that several ‘friends’ of mine on Facebook are taking a 30 day gratitude challenge—each day of November, noting something that they are thankful for. I think that this can be a helpful exercise—as a general reminder for us when we’re having a bad day, but also as a perspective keeper. Just because the moment might seem difficult, the bigger picture might point to some other truths about our lives and relationships.
I remember reading somewhere a long time ago about something that I now often integrate into my work with clients and also make use of in my own life. Often we think that in order to behave differently, or to make different choices in life, we have to feel different first. For example, if I want to spend more quality time with my child, I need to wait for that warm loving feeling before I can expect myself to pursue time with her. The truth is, attitudes and feelings often follow behaviors (which turns our original assumption inside out!).
If I want to feel warm and loving toward my child, it might take me spending intentional quality time with her in order for those feelings to well up inside of me. Think about how this can apply to a variety of our life situations—our marriages, workplaces, community connections, etc. I think that the gratitude challenge that I see people engaging in supports this idea even more.
What are you thankful for today, this month, or this season? When you think about this, how does it affect your current emotions?