In our last couple +1s, we reflected on the fact that we’d be wise to remember that time flies and the fact that (newsflash!) we’re not going to live forever.
That “contrasting” as the scientists call it, provides a healthy perspective shift that tends to force us into a more grateful mindset.
IF, of course, we have the humility and the wisdom and the courage to embrace reality and the finite nature of our existence.
Which, of course, is not an easy thing to embrace. Too often, too many of us (all of us to some extent or another, eh?) would prefer to IGNORE the most fundamental reality of our existence (that would be: THAT WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!), and, in the process, miss the opportunity to REALLY appreciate the precious moments we have.
Back to the programming.
Robert Emmons shared his research on the effect of “death” scenarios on gratitude in a chapter called “Gratitude, Suffering, and Redemption.”
He tells us that challenging times often provide us with some of the deepest opportunities for growth and gratitude.
In fact, he encourages us to practice what he calls “bad to good” journal exercises in which we deliberately reflect on challenging times and reframe them to see the gifts they gave us.
These journaling practices are basically an exercise in OMMS in which you think about some of the challenging times in your life but focus on the ways those challenges made you stronger.
As he tells us, with the right re-framing, we can be THANKFUL for EVERYTHING—including the hardest times of our lives—while appreciating our current reality even more and, if we’re currently going through a dark patch, remembering that we’ve got what it takes to endure and get stronger and that someday (today?) we’ll be grateful for our current challenges.
If you feel so inspired, let’s take a moment to bring to mind a challenging time in our past.
How has this event made you a better person?
As Robert instructs us: “Sometimes even when bad things happen they can ultimately have positive consequences, things we can now be grateful for. Choose an experience from your life that was initially unpleasant and unwanted. Try now to focus on the positive aspects or consequences of this difficult experience. As the result of this event, what kinds of things do you now feel thankful or grateful for? Has this event benefited you as a person? How have you grown? Were there personal strengths that grew out of your experience? How has the event made you better able to meet the challenges of the future? How has the event put your life in perspective? How has the event helped you appreciate the truly important people and things in your life?”
“In sum, How can you be thankful for the beneficial consequences that have resulted from this event?”
Sending grateful OMMS.
Here’s to alchemizing ALL of life’s challenges into antifragile fuel for our never-ending growth in heroic service to our families, communities and the world.