I have been learning things from Maddy, my mother-in-law, for over 30 years.
Lately she’s been teaching me about what I want to call “micro-gratitude”: being grateful for the very smallest things in life.
Many things are hard for Maddy right now: getting out a chair, walking across the room, keeping track of the round-the-clock caretakers, and worrying about whether we really did close the windows. But through all this, she continues to be deeply grateful for the feeling of warm water when she washes her hands.
Every time I turn on the water for her, she says “Oh thank you!” as if I had just given her a long-awaited gift. Without fail, she tells me how wonderful it feels. She luxuriates in the clear warm water and the ritual of washing.
I try to be grateful every day, but I tend to think of the big things, always starting with the health of my loved ones. Maddy is teaching me that there is plenty of gratitude to go around for the little things, some of it as close as the nearest faucet.
“You can’t run through a closed door without getting hurt. It’s usually better to accept it as one of those little dead ends on a maze that helps bump you back onto the path that will lead you to the open door! (I learned this when I bought my VW Bug…that I’m still paying for…..HUGE lesson learned)”
Today I learned another great thing about being optimistic: You get to have more fun!
Yesterday on a rainy afternoon, I was ready to bail on a Sunday morning 5K with a 90% chance of rain.
Sally told me that she was OK with not running in the rain, but not OK with not running if the weather turned out fine. And since we wouldn’t know until the start gun what the weather would be, we decided to go for it. I stayed overnight, we took the Red Line to Harvard Square nice and early, ran a great race, and had a fun morning together, including a great brunch (don’t do the math, it’s better that way.)
Optimism won the day. As it often does.
This is awesome. I learned, from Sara, about an interview with Sylvia Boorstein in which she suggested that we could all learn from the philosophy of the GPS.
When we make a mistake, it calmly and evenly says “recalculating” and then suggests a course correction. Even if you get that wrong, it says “recalculating” and suggests another correction to get you back to where you said you were going.
No yelling. No beating anyone up for making a mistake. Just recalculating.
Here is an excerpt from the interview, below, but I recommend the whole interview. What do you think??
“If something happens, it challenges us and the challenge is, OK, so do you want to get mad now? You could get mad, you could go home, you could make some phone calls, you could tell a few people you can’t believe what this person said or that person said. Indignation is tremendously seductive, you know, and to share with other people on the telephone and all that. So to not do it and to say, wait a minute, apropos of you said before, wise effort to say to yourself, wait a minute, this is not the right road. Literally, this is not the right road. There’s a fork in the road here. I could become indignant, I could flame up this flame of negativity or I could say, “Recalculating.” I’ll just go back here.”
“I learned that listening to others is great, however, hearing comes from the heart. Very important for our family as Mom’s Alzheimer’s is moving into it’s final stage.”
Today I learned, from the blog of my wonderful yoga studio*, these alternatives to resolutions, quoted and paraphrased here
1. Instead of focusing on change, place focus on what is already feeling right and working well in your life.
2. “Instead of having specific goals … try the idea of a theme. One theme could be healthy living or another could be compassion. “
and described much better and discussed in more detail in the blog here: Alternatives to The New Year’s Resolution
What are your themes?
* Mandala Yoga has integrated with Full Spectrum Wellness in Manchester NH
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Click here to read the entire commencement speech at Stanford in 2005, and to see the video.