Reality Check: Grumbling and Gratitudes

Has anyone done you wrong at any point in your life? I suspect that it’s a rare person who could answer, “No.” For most, at some point, someone did not treat us well.
Have you also noticed that many grievances are being aired? There’s blaming, criticizing, finger-pointing, all pointing toward the reality that current conditions are far from perfect.
Of course current conditions are far from perfect. Some grievances are undoubtedly justified. However, conditions have always been imperfect and no matter what new policies are implemented, I don’t think utopia will come any time soon. For one thing, my utopia and your utopia likely look different, so one of us is bound to miss out.
Where we focus has an effect on us. If we look for opportunities for grievance, we can find them. When we focus on grievance, our outlook becomes grievance-centred.
Let’s try looking differently. Think about examples of people who have done you “right.” Perhaps they have gone over and above expectations. Maybe they have made your life a little better than it would otherwise be.
For example, you might think of friends, neighbours or volunteers. Perhaps you work with people who have a positive impact on your life. Teachers, bosses, even a stranger with whom you had some positive interaction might come to mind. You might even think of your spouse, partner, child, or other family members! They are people too, whose contributions need not be taken for granted.
If you want to try adding a different perspective to your outlook—one that doesn’t amplify gloom, doom, and division—then here’s a suggestion for the coming week.
Choose a short timeslot in the day to dedicate to a little reflection. Pick a time that you can realistically stick to every day. Maybe it’s first thing in morning, last thing at night, whatever. This won’t take long, but it will be more effective if you are consistent.
During your allocated time, take a few minutes to look at your life and think of one person who has treated you well. Be specific. Who it is? How did they contribute to your life?
When we are thinking of our grievances, it can be hard to remember that there are people who have helped us; those who have gone out of their way to make our lives better. Because it’s so easy to forget, write it down.
Next day, do it again. Come up with someone else. By the time next week rolls around, you’ll have a list of seven people who have made your life better. This is a valuable reminder—over half a dozen people who have cared about you.
If you find this practice helpful, you might keep the habit going. See how many different people you can think of who have contributed, or who are continuing to contribute to your life in positive ways.
We’ve all known people who have treated us poorly. But there are also people who have treated us well. It’s worth making a conscious effort to remind ourselves of that.
If you’d like to take the practice further, you could even let those people know how much you value them!
What do you think of this practice as a way to focus toward gratitude and away from grievance?

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