I was driving on the Schuylkill Expressway last week.
On the way to my destination ~outbound of the city mid day, I ran into a few traffic slow downs. It was important to me to arrive at my destination with plenty of time to find the place as I had never been there before and relax for a few moments before we began our workshop. The slow downs were not what I was hoping for. Possibly I was worrying (which is basically praying for what I didn’t want) rather than actually visualizing a clear path? I will reflect on how that impacted the traffic.
Okay…back to the story.
I was on the expressway in traffic. I noticed my grumpiness kick right in. I heard myself thinking, “really!?” and “this sucks” and “why doesn’t someone fix this?”, “what if I don’t get there in time?” and the like. Almost instantly I felt bad. And I noticed.
What to do?
Knowing that where I focus my attention is what impacts my mood the most, I seized the extra time as an Opportunity for Gratitude (OFG). I like to weave gratitude into my day as often as possible. It’s been a growing practice now for me, [read Upping Your Gratitude Game]. So I thought of a few things, chanted a bit, and continued to drive.
There is so much more to gratitude than just the ‘new age feel good story that leads you to enlightenment. Gratitude can, without question, change your life. Recently I finished a book entitled You Are the Placebo; Making Your Mind Matter, by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It is filled with science (really detailed science) about neuroplasticity and the impact that has on the reality we literally create. Super-long story short, gratitude plays a huge role in the quality of our lives. I already knew this, and I already knew a lot of the science that Dr. Dispenza writes about. I never quite strung these things together in the way he did. Once again my mind burst wide open. Inspiration just lights me up!
Okay…back to the story.
I was in the car, on the Schuylkill Expressway in traffic and saw an opportunity for gratitude. I took it. I just considered a few of the things I was grateful for in the bit of extra time on the highway. I felt good.
When I arrived at my destination with plenty of time to relax and mentally prepare, I easily found the right building and the door to go in. I experienced the rural setting and rolling hills as fabulous to look at and calming. I found the building spacious and clean. The workshop was well-received, fun and connecting, feelings and needs being shared by all (my happy place).
And it was time to return home.
I had an extended Opportunity For Gratitude. The highway was packed with other cars and it was going to be an hour to get back (double what it should be). I decided that I would go through the alphabet with gratitude. Here’s how I started it out:
A. I was grateful for the apple that Steve brought me. [the apple was a kind I never had and that was a family staple from his childhood, so yes I was grateful for the apple. I haven’t actually eaten it yet as I am savoring the gift. Plus it is watermelon season].
B. Back to Life Urban Sanctuary. Grateful for my place and how pretty I think it is, how at home I feel there, etc.
C. I think I was grateful for all the comfort in my life.
You get the idea.
I spent the entire trip home (driving approximately 10-20mph on the highway) filled with gratitude. I even allowed myself to add extras because something reminded me of something else, after I already passed the letter. I found myself with an unlimited number of things to be grateful for.
When I arrived at my next destination: a meeting to which I (obviously) arrived later than anticipated, I was solidly happy. No distress. What a pleasure.
Say This Not That.
Practice: You may not drive on highways with traffic. Can you identify your Opportunities For Gratitude?
Maybe make a list.
1. When you burn something in the oven.
2. As soon as you wake up in the morning (no matter what time or why you are up).
3. When your phone stops working and you don’t know why.
4. When you forget a meeting and now you are rushing around to get there.
5. When you love the weather.
6. When you hate the weather.
7. When you remember about your favorite yoga class with just enough time to get there.
8. When you get to your yoga class and it is full.
9. When you see caterpillars all over your cherry tree.
10. When you get them off your tree – and your tree is 5 feet shorter than it was.
11. When you get upstairs and look at the tree, you see the caterpillars that you missed.
The point of this story is to suggest that the Opportunities For Gratitude are endless. I hope you will agree.