There is nothing to put things in perspective like spending a weekend of paying attention to all the things for which I am grateful. I wonder why I have to be continually reminded of this? After all, if there is anything I pride myself on it’s that I think I’m reasonably bright – I’ve even written about it before (here)! Pray tell, why then do I have to learn lessons over and over and over?
Some weeks ago I wrote about working with a coach to set an intention for my Work (capital-letter “Work” as compared to work as in “job” – it’s wonderful when they line up together, but it’s not a requirement). You can actually see it on the left column of the blog in the statement: “… catalyze exponential growth; inspire the best in people, relationships, and organizations; and allow solutions to emerge; all in order to increase universal good will.”
My coach (Melissa Kopplin, LCSW) tells me that the key with intentions, whether grand like mine for Work or mundane, is to put them out there and then let go enough to allow them to manifest. Intentions create space for things to happen; working hard to make them happen can just get in the way. I confess that I struggle with this; for one, it sounds an awful lot like wishful thinking and for another, I am someone who believes that being successful requires doing as well as intending. So for me, putting an intention out into the universe doesn’t mean that there will be nothing to do or that good things will magically happen just because I want it.
But the thing is that intentions do seem to make space for opportunities to present themselves. Maybe it’s mystical, or maybe it’s just that getting clear about intentions sensitizes us to notice the opportunities that match them (kind of like noticing that everyone else seems to have the same car you just bought). I mostly think of it that way; being clear about what I intend allows me to recognize those opportunities that match up with my intention, and so I’m more likely to make good choices about where I put my energy.
However it works I have to admit that, as soon as I got clear about the intention, things started showing up in my life at a breathtaking pace. Opportunities to speak at conferences, writing opportunities, new people with great potential to be friends as well as business connections, opportunities to add value at work that I hadn’t seen coming, job possibilities, all seemed to show up as if by magic.
But then, too, came the flip side. Recognition of things that I am doing that do not fit my intention, and a feeling that I have to decide (read: do something!) about those opportunities. Along with this came a sense of angst created by having too many possibilities and by the sense that change was coming and it wasn’t entirely in my control. Soon enough, I found myself in a funk, and losing all perspective. What began with a sense of blessing and opportunity became an anxious burden. Weird as it seems there I was, drowning in a sea of possibility and opportunity, and I was feeling depressed and anxious about it!
Talking with Maddie helped put words to it. That freed me up enough to put those words down to get even more clear. Melissa had a very simple suggestion in response to those worlds, which I now offer to you: spend a weekend letting go of everything, instead to focus on enjoying whatever you’re doing. Focus on gratitude. Spend time enjoying in the moment. Count your blessings.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised; it works. As soon as I decided I looked up and saw Sam, my youngest, with a huge grin on his face and I realized how blessed I am to have my family. Instead of worrying about how I support them, maybe I should spend more time enjoying what they mean to me. I had a glass of wine and took the time to savor the taste, which reminded me of the incredible wine cellar that Maddie built for me on a shoestring, for no other reason than to make me happy. Maybe I should enjoy that more – ‘ya think?
The list grew – I realized how lucky I am that my two youngest boys still like to have me read to them, mostly because it gives us time together. The sight of my favorite cat curled up at my feet first thing in the morning, and Maddie’s perfect Mona Lisa-like smile as I said goodbye before going out on my run. Feeling a crisp, cool autumn morning perfect for working up a sweat from a run that my good health allows. Breakfast shared with Gregory, an afternoon fishing trip in which I caught nothing but beheld – and appreciated – the breathtaking beauty of the Tennesse River valley. Once started, it became clear to me that the list is virtually endless. Best of all, I shared those moments with others: a few words to Maddie, posting on Facebook, a quick thought on Twitter, a picture shared with Melissa on Instagram.
Here is the lesson, learned yet again: when I feel anxious about the future, or depressed about the past, the answer is always, always, to show up in the moment. Find one small thing for which to be grateful, and share that gratitude out loud. Then stand back and watch the miracle unfold. Suddenly, today, it’s clear again how many blessings I enjoy, and how many more I’m attracting (and noticing) through clarity of intention.
I’m sure I’ll get anxious again about decisions that still have to be made. Blessings still need to be cultivated, opportunities require action in order to follow them up. Maybe next time I get anxious I’ll remember to count my blessings in a moment of gratitude – if not, could we make a deal to remind each other?
For what are you grateful? Share your story of gratitude, here or with a loved one, in pictures or words, and watch what happens.
Les Kertay, The Moments Project