I thought I was doing it right. I was thankful. I said, "Thank you." I meant it too. I was not doing it right. I was approaching it from the wrong angle.
I was coming at it from a negative perspective even though I was completely unaware that I was doing so. At the end of a particularly challenging day, I would sit and be thankful that I made it through the day. Sometimes, by the skin of my teeth. Maybe, even teetering on barely surviving. BUT, I made it, right, that's enough to be thankful for, no? Actually, its not. Meditating on the notion that you are thankful for surviving a day doesn't do much for anyone at all. It doesn't really make you appreciate anything in particular about the gifts of that day. It doesn't remind you how lucky you are to have woken up that day. It doesn't make you SEE and FEEL the beauty that lies in every single day. Yes, even those days where you just make it to your room after a hard day of work, or a heartbreak or a non stop, mommy to do list, only to plop on the bed out of utter exhaustion and feel like you just can't do one more thing.
I began to think to myself, "why doesn't this ritual of gratitude make me feel better." Then, I realized, I am NOT thankful for getting through this day, I am thankful for having this gloriously challenging, amazing day. I started to think about the actions of the day and realizing that I was thankful for the underlying emotions that I had the privilege to experience. For example, instead of being thankful for the staples; my children, my husband, my home, my friends, I began to be thankful for love, for laughter, for comfort, for safety. Instead of being thankful for completing that demanding, perhaps a little aggravating project, I felt thankful for persistence, for determination, for fortitude. Shifting my perception made room for my heart to open up to positive thinking. I started to visualize a replay of my day from the moment I woke up and attach a positive feeling to each profound moment of the day even if the initial feeling was adverse. It wasn't very difficult at all now that I reminded myself not of the objects I am thankful for but the feelings they allow me to experience. By the time I reached the current moment, my mind and body felt peace and true grace. I could actually sleep now with a thankful heart.
This practice began to overflow into my daily living and now I remembered to pay attention to how I felt when my son held my hand while walking to the car and sunk into it save it up for later when I need that extra patience. I remembered to take in the warmth of the sun on my skin when I stepped outside and lingered a few extra moments to breathe in the sweetness of the air. I remembered to feel my husband's kiss as he left for the day and mentally save it up for later when I may need his kiss and he's not there to give it. I could seriously go on but I think I made my point. When you make a commitment to acknowledge the pleasures of the day, you have much less time to worry about any discontent. It can throw that feel good Sparkle onto any part of your day. When faced with gloom, you have so much bliss to pull from and that desire to add more goodness grows. It gives you the power to turn your thank God this day is over to thank God for another day.
I would love to hear how you stay positive and focus on joy. Please share with me, I am always seeking to increase the amount of Sparkle in our world.