Your gratitude lens
Several weeks ago I was talking with a student about the power of gratitude. My intent was to help him change his lens with regard to a difficult circumstance he was experiencing. After briefly outlining the countless benefits of his gratitude lens, he gave me a puzzled look and asked, “How can I be grateful for something that I didn’t want to happen to me?”
Here is the conversation that followed:
“I’m not saying you have to be grateful for the circumstance, I’m trying to help you choose gratitude in the midst of this circumstance.”
He was clearly confused as evidenced by the blank stare on his face. “What does that mean?” he asked.
“I understand your confusion. It’s a difficult concept, but I can promise you it will be extremely helpful. The first thing I’d like you to do is own the fact that the circumstance occurred.” We had discussed the owner lens in a previous lesson, so I knew he would grasp the concept.
“Oh yeah, I remember you telling me that I can’t go back and change circumstances. They are in the past.”
“That’s right. Only when you’re able to own something can you free yourself to choose a new lens. You see, when you allow the circumstance to dictate your emotions, you’re essentially giving all of your power to the past.”
“Okay, I get that. But how can I be grateful for it?”
“Remember, I’m not asking you to be grateful for it, I’m asking that you choose to be grateful in it. It would be silly for me to ask you to express thanks for a circumstance that you aren’t happy with. However, if you can find something you’re grateful for in this circumstance, you gain your power back. Knowing full well that we can’t go back and change it, can you think of something you’re grateful for with regard to this circumstance?”
“Ummm…I’m grateful that I have a gratitude lens.”
“That’s perfect. What you’re saying is that you are thankful for the power to choose your thoughts.”
“Yeah, but it still seems hard. I keep going back to my negative thoughts.”
“That’s okay, it’s a process. You just mentioned that you were grateful for your gratitude lens. The good news is that it’ll always be available to you. The more you use it, the more it uses you.”
“What do you mean it uses me?”
“It’s similar to your habits. You have a lot of habits that you’ve created that essentially act on their own. The same is true for our gratitude lens. When you create a habit of using this lens, it’ll happen automatically.”
“Okay, I’ll try it.”
“That’s all I can ask. Let’s talk in a couple of weeks and we’ll assess your level of gratitude at that time.”
This happened to be a teenager that I was coaching, but the message applies to all of us. Everyone is going to experience unwelcome circumstances; however, the lens we choose in the midst of these circumstances will ultimately shape our feelings.
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