Putting the Gratitude Strategy into Place
Dr. Zan’s thoughts:
During this past weekend, I had the opportunity to spend time with wonderful friends who I don’t get to see face to face all that frequently. Have you ever noticed that there are some relationships that, no matter how much time has passed, flow harmoniously and effortlessly as though there has never been any separation whatsoever? What a gift it is to connect with others in this fashion--a shared intimacy despite limited shared experiences. Giving full attention and full presence to moments of togetherness becomes a greater priority. We can and do find ways to elevate brief encounters to sustain the connection.
At times it can be difficult to discern what contributes to a given relationship’s longevity and import. We can behave similarly in a myriad of arenas and yield vastly different results. However, when something works-- when a connection resonates, there is certainly cause for gratitude.
As we continue the march toward the end of this calendar year, there is indeed, much that surrounds us that is cause for concern. We can choose to spotlight fear, loss, division, violence, lack. Evidence of brokenness abounds. However, there is also cause for gratitude. By turning our attention toward gratitude, it does not suggest that we stop acknowledging and having compassion for those who suffer or for ourselves as we experience times of stress. We are not being Pollyanna~ish in our approach to life. We simply focus first on being grateful and therefore provide a more positive lens and launching point to intersect the rest of our personal and collective experience.
This is likely another “yes and” moment. Yes, life is tough and there are many occasions that can prompt us to feel and express gratitude. Thanksgiving is not that far in the rearview mirror, but it is all too easy to push forward without an ongoing sense of thanksgiving. Today, I am especially grateful for all of those relationships where, despite my flawed humanity, I am able to feel fully appreciated, connected, and loved unconditionally.
I invite you to join me in employing your own gratitude strategy in these final weeks of the year and right on into 2019.
Dr. Nadine’s Reflections:
It was also my experience this past weekend to reconnect with two friends with whom I have shared a wonderful, intimate friendship for twenty-five years. We met in Florida at a beautiful resort on the Gulf coast. There we spent three glorious days of doing nothing together but talking, eating, taking walks on the sand, dreaming, and solving the problems of life. We waxed philosophical, catalogued our aspirations, and balanced all of it with brutal pragmatism as we unfolded our joys and worries about our lives and our futures.
As Dr. Zan notes, we also specifically commented to one another that it felt as if no time had passed between our visits. The quality of our relationship had not changed. In fact, it had matured, as had we, over time, mellowing but not weakening. We marveled at how easily we shared ourselves, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to one another, trusting that we would accept our respective quirks and eccentricities with kindness. We laughed at our imperfections, and we viewed our differences as strengths.
How many of us can say we’re graced with these types of relationships? If you have even one that offers a shared sense of closeness, acceptance, understanding, and caring, that’s something special. If it’s one that allows you to be fully “YOU”, that doesn’t demand that you compromise your authentic self, your values, your personal style, or your integrity, that’s a treasure. And it’s something to be grateful for. Nurture it. Enhance it. Embrace it. Invest in it.
Dr. Zan reminds us that we’re marching forward toward the end of the calendar year – quickly, as I can attest. I can feel the stress and the press of the season lurking over my shoulder. I’m actually grateful that my weekend with my friends was early this month, because it has helped me reorient to my True North, to realign with my true values. I can say that my “Attitude of Gratitude” strategy is going to be to focus on relationships I have with the people in my life. Each is unique, and brings to me something to recognize and understand.
This season of giving is the perfect time then to give myself the gift of “Reflecting on Relationships”. My relationships that are built on mutual authenticity and acceptance, in which differences are celebrated and imperfections are embraced are the ones I’ll keep. Those that require me to give up my integrity in the service of the other person are the relationships from which I’ll separate. Those relationships ultimately are manipulative and controlling. They are not true, authentic ones; they are not real ones. Instead, they are built on the illusions of something we hope for. We pretend they’re something they’re not.
I extend Dr. Zan’s invitation to find a way to keep gratitude in the forefront of your activities in the next few busy weeks. And distance yourself from those people that drain your psyche, that empty your spirit, that demand you to compromise yourself to care for them. Rather, keep in close contact with what and who replenishes your heart and soul. There is no better gift to give or to get than giving wholeheartedly of yourself and receiving the same in a true, authentic, healthy relationship. Celebrate it!