A wise friend once told me “people have time and money for what they want to have time and money to do.” Over the years I’ve seen how true that is. Each day we choose how we will spend our time and money and whom we’ll spend it with. No matter how much we have, it seems like there is never enough of it. If we think about it long enough, we might find that what we have is enough. In our culture, we are taught that we need more. We need more money. We need more time. We need a bigger house or a nicer car. We need a lot of friends. We need a better job or a nicer boss. We need a newer TV or kitchen appliance. We need the latest version of a gadget. We need, need, need. Perhaps it’s more like, we want, want, and then want some more.
Focusing on what we always need or want creates the belief that no matter how much we have; we’ll never have enough of it. When we identify with that belief we might start to feel anxious, needy, empty, or lonely. We then create the propensity to behave in ways that are impulsive; in order to cope with those feelings and fill the emptiness we might be experiencing, we feel an urge to acquire anything that can soothe us, even for a moment. It can create a constant seeking and searching for something to make us feel better. Often that something is unhealthy for us in the long term (think drug, alcohol or food addiction, gambling problems, compulsive shopping habits).
However, there is another way to feel fulfilled. We have choices. We can choose to focus on what we do have and feel satisfied. We can choose to notice the people in our lives who are there for us, and who genuinely care, rather than the people who are unavailable. We can appreciate the many gifts we do have by recognizing them and being grateful. We can be thankful ever day of the year, not just during Thanksgiving. This daily practice of refocusing our perspective and noticing what is, rather than what needs to be, can have a profound impact on how we feel by shifting how we view ourselves, others and the world. We can consciously be thankful for the gifts we have, and we can feel grateful. When we are grateful, we feel whole.
So starting today and every day for the next week, practice having an attitude of gratitude by following these 3 easy steps:
- Stop whatever it is you are doing, have a seat, and close your eyes.
- Take a few moments to notice what you have in your life that makes you so grateful to be alive right now. Think of who or what you have in your life that provides you with safety, comfort and joy.
Here are some questions you can answer to help get you started: Whom do you love? Who cares for you and seeks you out to see how you are doing? What’s your most cherished possession? What do you love about it? What have you accomplished this past year that makes you feel proud of yourself? What makes it worth getting up every day? Who or what brings a huge smile to your face?
- Reflect on your answers. Notice how it feels in your body when you think about these answers. Know that each moment of every day you have a choice about what you focus on: what you already have that fulfills you or what’s missing from your life. When we choose the former, we can experience long lasting joy and satisfaction. It’s your choice.