Monday, September 28, 2009

Perspective and Gratitude

As you may have gathered I am fascinated by the way families are operating and the ways in which men and women function within the family. One thing I do know, perspective helps when faced with the issue of unequal disbursement of responsibilities within the home.

After I've sorted through any yucky stuff I might be holding onto (wallowed for a while), it helps me to place this issue in perspective. There are a couple of ways I go about that.

First, I access my immense gratitude for being born who I am and where I am. I am not a Mother who fears her children may be recruited as child soldiers. I am not watching AIDS ravage my family. We have enough food and clean water. I get it.

I am privileged and any challenges I might be facing are manageable. It is merely work I need to do in order to live my best life. It is not anything that needs to break up my family unit.

When I take the drama and crisis out of it, and I just get curious about how it could be better, life gets so much easier. When I commit to something more, something better and something filled with integrity, the problems I was previously dealing with largely dissolve.

Also, when I access my immense gratitude for all of the things my husband provides, I get less panicky about the things I view as "lacking". We may still have to get into a conversation that works out who does what when, but I no longer begin from a place of scarcity and I can communicate while mindful of bounty.

I have been in conversation with many women lately as I explore this topic and I was having such a conversation at a coffee shop the other day. Then, I was granted a solid opportunity for getting the proper perspective. An acquaintance of mine walked in and I was stopped short. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer in May and he died in August. I could not ask her to sit with us - we were questioning how our families were operating and complaining about shoes that weren't being picked up. I get it - I have much for which to be thankful.

If you're not feeling particularly grateful, you might consider cultivating gratitude. Each night (or most) my best friend since Grade 2 and I exchange an email entitled "My 3" and it lists three amazing or significant things we experienced that day. Each day, I am motivated to look for the happy, the funny, the joyful and this exercise allows me to "manufacture" gratitude. Do it long enough and you begin to acknowledge the significant moments as they are happening and you no longer have to search your memory for them at the end of the day.

For some, such an approach may be contrived or "smarmy", but let me assure you, any discomfort you may feel over this warm, fuzzy approach usually pales in comparison to the discomfort created by dysfunction in a family.


Roxanne Dicke said...

As your best friend since grade 2, I can tell you that our exercise in cultivating gratitude has allowed me to learn more about you and living life more fully every day! I love our "My 3" ritual, and am so grateful we have committed to it. I encourage others to try it out for a week--you will find you view the day differently. That you look for those amazing (and sometimes profoundly simple) moments even more carefully, and that you can "muse through" the troubling moments too. It can be done with a best friend (which is motivating to continue the ritual) or you can do it on your own in a "gratitude journal" format.

Thanks, Catherine. :-)

kirk and JoAnn said...

Catherine...I love the idea of the "My 3" ritual. I think I will email my sisters when I get home and start this ritual with them! Truly - you have the best ideas and strategies for positivity. Can't tell you how glad I am to be back in your orbit!

Catherine said...

Roxanne, what an unexpected gift this exercise has been for our 30+ year friendship!

JoAnn, my orbit can be strange but wonderful :) Welcome back!