How my gratitude practice empowered me to be a better partner, parent and leader.
I had a profound realization recently. Not too long ago I embarked on a gratitude practice; a true, authentic, deep dive into gratitude for just one person, my partner.
Remember the beginning when all you notice are the things that you simply adore about this person. As your lives settle into routine, the blinders come off . Suddenly, there are socks on the floor, annoying habits and frustrating behaviors that get in the way of your undeniable love and affection. The weeds begin to crowd your garden and soon the roses are harder to see.
For 21 days, I decided to pull the weeds. I devoted myself to not only noticing the roses more often but to looking closely for the sprouting buds.
Gradually over the next few weeks I noticed something interesting occur. I became more affectionate, playful, tolerant, interested, happier and productive. And so did he. Daily life was fun, easeful and deeply fulfilling.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have complaints. I still noticed those. However, it was the ratio of mental complaints to mental compliments that mattered. I had built up such a well of appreciation and affection that when a pesky complaint tried to intrude, I swiftly moved through it and back into my garden of appreciation.
And the more I showed affection and appreciation, the more I got in return.
What was most profound to me in this experiment was how much love I felt after devoting myself to this practice. My love was growing exponentially everyday. I actually FELT more love than before the experiment.
Let me say that again. I FELT more love than before. I could actually FEEL love, affection and intimacy growing inside me. It was amazing. As interesting, I noticed my desire to do nice things grew, and not because I wanted to for some outcome. I wanted to do nice things because I was feeling an innate urge to give love.
Ultimately this experience taught me how empowered I truly am. I soon realized that the power to choose how to experience each moment of my life lived deep within me. I learned that I had the power to create whatever experience I wanted in any given moment. I discovered that no thing outside me could actually impact my experience. It is actually all up to me.
As I was putting attention on what there was to appreciate, gratitude organically arose in each moment. As I continued to choose appreciation, my affection, tolerance and love grew in kind.
I spent the last 21 days cultivating appreciation, which turned into affection, which turned into love, which returned to me interestingly enough. I learned that this feeling was contagious and I was experiencing these feelings of love and affection for many other people in my life, including myself because I was creating them. I generated the feeling within first, then shared it and watched it come back to me.
I soon began to wonder what life would be like if I practiced the same kind of gratitude in all areas of my life: with my kids, people who I work with or even the clerk at the grocery.
This month as we continue on the path of giving thanks and finding gratitude, I invite you to pull the weeds, dig in and plant the seeds of gratitude within yourself. You might be surprised to find that the gift of gratitude just keeps on giving in ways yet unimagined.
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