Gratitude – What is Working Well for You?
by Michael Feeley
I FIRST DISCOVERED THIS QUESTION reading the book, Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment by Positive Psychologist Tal Ben–Shahar. I felt such pleasure thinking about the question and ever since I have asked it of myself daily and sometimes often in a single day – ‘What is working well for you right now?’ In times of stress it made for an instant shift in me from pain to pleasure; creating confidence and some immediate relief and happiness.
I ask it too of my Life and Career Coaching clients, encouraging them to actively and consciously focus on the good in their lives while they’re learning and changing.
Many times when asked this beautiful question they say — ‘What do you mean? What does that have to do with finding a new job or believing in myself?’ It’s as if they’re hearing a foreign language…but their curiosity in figuring it out is always thrilling to experience.
We can miss the obvious…
I’m reminded of Rene Magritte’s painting – “The Son of Man”…the one of a man with a bowler hat and a bright, green apple – right – in – front – of – his – face.
What I’m saying is this: we can miss the obvious; what’s close to us, what’s ever so real and present; the simple, plain and ordinary things in our lives and the outside world that are good, pleasing, ‘working well’ and that we may take for granted and forget to notice. They’re things we value…love…depend on and are truly and deeply grateful for.
Try this right now — sit still for a moment and close your eyes, take a deep breath and release it…now, ask yourself…”What is working well for me?” Think about it. Repeat it if you want and let the answer rise to the surface. See what comes up for you. . .
OK – What does your answer do to you?
When things are working well we feel good — body and soul.
It’s a loving and positive force.
We may feel alive, proud, happy, relaxed, moved and hundreds of other positive and pleasing thoughts and feelings.
Too often we accent the negative. We complain, gossip, fight in our minds with people, try to manage the world because we think our way is the right way, explode with anger for no reason, including at the people we love most.
We move about really fast in daily life and the world around us doesn’t seem to matter much.
We sometimes neglect and dismiss our natural instincts and expressions of gratitude. We forget to appreciate things.
All our senses were made for gratitude —
Maybe the taste of a hot cup of delicious coffee ‘works well for you’…or seeing someone you love…smelling a special scent…hearing your favorite piece of music and being swept…feeling cool, fresh air.
All our senses were made for gratitude – created for seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching gratitude.
Our senses support us and usually do it very well.
We each have this special gift of senses, whatever condition they’re in, and they are miraculous friends to us!
It takes one second to touch something and feel it. Try it. Reach out and touch…really be aware of what you feel and your response.
Now — Look at something. What do you see? Colors, shapes, movement?
Close your eyes and listen. What do you hear? I hear a clock ticking. I like it because I like the sound and also its chime.
When we ‘like’ something there is organic appreciation — natural gratitude.
If we have favorite things, are passionate about something, love it, feel thankful and get pleasure – that is gratitude. We were born feeling grateful. It’s part of our existence. We may not think about it the way gratitude deserves but it is always there.
This doesn’t mean everything is seen in a positive, rosy, panacea way like, “Wow! I’m so grateful that hurricane ruined my life.” We all face challenges; go through hell and painful times but can we do better with those hard times if we have been building up our gratitude reserve; consciously strengthening our selves by expressing and living with what is ‘working well’ for us?
Any situation can be turned around or re-framed and made into a benefit or an advantage.
What do you think has a better effect on you — being resentment or grateful? Being negative and nasty or positive and helpful?
Start fresh to be aware of your gratitude…of – ‘What is working well for you?’
Here is an assignment I do and also give to my clients:
- Write down three things each day that you’re grateful for.
See what effect doing this will have on you inside and out.
Gratitude isn’t fluff; a temporary feel good thing. Gratitude makes you strong. It’s a builder, a powerful liberator and an enhancer.
These words by Tal Ben-Shahar express that so well —
“When we appreciate the good, the good appreciates.”
Gratitude, the ability and desire to appreciate, is a mighty and precious force in all our lives.
See if it works well for you.
Thanks – Michael