It starts today! Each Wednesday for seven weeks, I will share one of the Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life on this blog. These are not earth shattering revelations by any means. They are what I like to call “hidden in plain sight.” In naming them and focusing on them, these secrets emerge and connect to make life fuller, healthier and more rewarding. They are distilled from my years of training and work in behavioral health, trying to find better ways to support people to work through problems and live a healthier life. And they come from reflecting on my personal life-changing experiences that I narrate in the Can Do Chronicles.
So, without further delay, here is….
The First Secret of a Can Do Life:
Develop and keep a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude every day.
Sometimes so easy. Sometimes so difficult. Always, so worth it!
So easy? Really?
Yes! Take 5 to 10 minutes every morning to intentionally focus on what the possibilities are for the day and what you have to be grateful for. Make it a habit. Do it while you brush your teeth or while you get dressed or something else you do every morning. Then write it down. See? So easy you can hit the EASY button with this one!
BUT WAIT!! It’s NOT so easy when life gets so full of distractions and stress that the first thing we do when we wake up is look at email messages on our phones and start building our anxious mental list of TO DOs and off we go….into traffic and meetings… with people and deadlines… and stress and problems. Into the “messiness and stressiness” that is life!
One of the most important things I realize and accept for a fact is that life is messy and filled with challenges and detours that are out of my control on the path to achieving my goals and dreams. That is why taking that time everyday to make that intentional commitment to possibilities and gratitude is so important to me, and why it is the FIRST and most important secret.
I know when I don’t take those special minutes in the morning, or even sometimes more than once a day, to make that commitment to stay focused on the positive and grounded in gratitude, that those are the times I become unglued and stressed out. Life starts to run me, I don’t run my life! And, I lose sight of the many, many things and people that I have to be grateful for and the many, many possibilities that life holds for me each day.
In the old days, I really thought it was okay to blame other people for how I felt and what was going wrong… the contract with deliverables and deadlines that were impossible to meet… the staff that did not follow the directions… the data in the report was wrong, and on and on and on… I had a hit list of people and reasons that my life was not going according to plan! I call it the chip on my shoulder, and the but in yes…BUT!
Then I grew to realize that it is not the circumstances in my life but how I react to them, my attitude, that makes all the difference. I am responsible for my attitude = how I react and how I feel. It is a real value to me that I keep control my attitude and take the BUT out of my YES to life. Blaming other people and things puts them in charge of my attitude, and to some extent, in charge of me! And, I don’t want to give control of my attitude to other people, whether things are going well or going poorly!
Taking that time every day to focus on the possibilities and grounding the day in gratitude keeps me more focused, and life’s “messiness and stressiness” are much less annoying. I am open to discovering new ways to approach challenges and solve problems, rather than hitting the mental “play button” with a rant about how life is not fair.
Making this commitment every day – and like I said, sometimes more than once a day! – has built a very healthy habit that helps me resist hitting that “play button,” protects me against stress, helps me think more clearly and makes it much easier to recover when things aren’t going well. And, I have realized that it makes me a much more attractive, enjoyable and engaging person to be around! That discovery is one of the biggest things in my life that I am grateful for.
There you have it. The first secret. I hope this little secret makes as big a difference in your life as it has in mine!
HELPFUL HINT: Make and keep a gratitude list every day. You can have repeats, but add at least two new things you are grateful for to the list each day.