I received an envelope in my mailbox the other day. In it, was a greeting card. On the front, was a beautiful picture of my condo in the snow, with flakes gracefully outlining the brick of the building and the wrought iron of the front windows. However, there was no signature. I asked around and no one left it. How strange, I thought. Then, my mind started to go in all sorts of weird places…. who would do such a thing?
It’s been a hard winter thus far and next week is only the beginning of February. If you read my last post, it was all about tips for keeping you sane during the coldest and snowiest winter we’ve had in many years. The local news channels are on a perpetual state of high alert, lest they miss one story of a broken pipe or a plow that hit a car. Last week, during what was the 3rd storm in only a few weeks, every local news channel pre-empted the morning shows so they could have reporters in the streets describing to us the “quality” of the snowfall. It just adds to the frenzy and stress we already have.
I started to wonder: could my perception be off? Am I letting outside forces influence my own sense of how I “see” things? Oddly enough, in the latest copy of Yoga Journal, I was reading Kate Holcolmbe’s article called, “I can see clearly now,” in which she refers to the “activities of the mind” described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Each of these “states of mind” refers to how we perceive things. In one state, called pranama we perceive things correctly, regardless of how these things are presented to us. But in another state, viparyaya, we misperceive something and take action based on our misperception (how many times have you done that?)
I decided to open the door of possibility to the idea that perhaps, just maybe, I was getting caught up in outside influences and letting that affect my own personal perception of situations. Now, why would that matter? Well, in my mind, perception is partly responsible for my level of happiness. If I perceive things as stressful, I feel stress. If I perceive things as pleasurable, I feel happy. But the snow is real and it’s a real pain, so where’s the misperception in that?
Well, you’ve got me there. I can’t say I can argue with that. But I decided instead of trying to just ignore the realities of things as they are (which is often difficult), I would try instead to focus on things as they are which are pleasurable. And to me, that feeling can best be described as gratefulness.
Let me stop here and say I do not classify myself as a “Pollyanna.” In fact, growing up, my father used to call me “Lucy” (after the character in Charlie Brown) because I was such a grump in the morning. I get into bad moods just like the rest of us and I sometimes feel sorry for myself and make it all about me. But given the landscape around here (cold) and given the prospect of warm (distant), I wanted to give myself something else to focus on which could help me generate some internal warmth and goodwill: a gratefulness campaign.
So, what’s that? Well, it’s quite simple, really. I’ve tried it before but didn’t stick with it. So, this time, I’ve given myself the target date of the first day of summer: June 21. Every day from now until June 21, I’m going to take a minute to document a reason to be grateful. It’ll be a personal thing but documenting it will make it more real and help keep me on track. It’s evidence of my gratefulness. And who knows? Perhaps someone else may see it and may add their own comments. And maybe that person may pass it onto someone else and we can all add our own thoughts of gratitude.
So, I’ll start today and make a commitment to post every day. I can’t promise anything; all I can do is make a promise to do my best for myself.
So for today: I am grateful for my health and the health of my mother, father and brother.