By Megrette Fletcher, MEd, RD, CDE
“I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.”
There are some emotions that cannot coexist. Curiosity and fear, for example, just don’t hang out together. The same is true of self-harm and gratitude. Why? Gratitude is like a portal, a doorway to another dimension where all the best things in life reside – love, appreciation, hope, happiness and acceptance. Gratitude doesn’t open the door to the dark thoughts.
In this month, on the journey exploring gratitude, I have found that I crave a lot of things, but the quality of my cravings is so different when I place the filter of gratitude before them.
Try it for yourself. Instead of trying to resist something – for example, a food or purchase – place a gratitude pause before the choice. Here is how it might look.
You see some dessert. The feeling of desire arises. You think, “I won’t be able to resist this dessert.” Pause, and simply say (out loud if needed) “I am grateful for this dessert.” Do not try to resist the dessert. Instead, simply be grateful for having it.
Now, with this positive emotion with you, notice if something shifted inside. Would this feeling of gratitude remain if you ate the dessert? If it would, how much can you eat and still feel grateful? Somehow gratitude and feeling grateful creates the desire for self-care.
Go ahead and try it. Challenge yourself to be more grateful about food, purchases, your kids and your life and see if anything changes. If this works for you, chances are it will also work for your kids. Have faith, even when you are met with looks of doubt and disbelief. Remember, all parents are weird, you are just doing your part to keep this adolescent truth alive. The rest of us are thankful because your weirdness, supports our weirdness and as Dr Seuss says, this is another way to say, I love you.
If you are stuck, try the following ways to begin cultivating gratitude.
- I am grateful that I can choose this food.
- I am grateful that I have this food.
- I am grateful that I have…
- I am grateful that I can afford this purchase.
- I am grateful that I can choose between these purchases.
- I am grateful that I …
You can, of course, challenge your family to cultivate more gratitude with the following resource. The Happiness Habit – Grateful Challenge http://www.projecthappiness.org/gratituesday-circles-challenge/