by Patrick McMnerthney
Let’s talk about all of your habits. Ready? I’m all ears. You go first. I won’t record this I promise.
(Have you ever noticed that culturally we only see our habits through the lens of “bad?” I wonder what would happen if we gave voice to our “good” as well?)
Fine, I’ll go first. Hmmmm…what should I divulge here? I do have a habit of late-night peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And apparently leaving evidence thereof on the cupboards in the form a smear of peanut butter here, a smudge of jelly there…typically matching my exact fingertips. So I guess that’s another habit; moving around rapidly, without focus, in the kitchen to the point of absolute destruction!
(Admittedly I was scared to tell you I make double-decker ones.)
Habits are interesting because no matter what we tell ourselves about them, including how delicious and “worth it” peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at midnight are, they define us. They’re what makes us, us, physically and mentally, for better or worse.
Obviously in my case this is reflected in the shocking and offensive reality that late-night food doesn’t lead to high levels of physical fitness. Or, to a lesser degree, a spouse who’s pleased she has to clean up after me first thing in the morning.
And that’s the rub with habits – the prospect of trading in the unhelpful ones (a.k.a ruts) for new, beneficial ones is terrifying because it involves the commitment of showing up every day and making incremental changes drip by drip. When we take the long view of this process it feels impossible, as if we’re popping up off our couch and running a marathon without any preparation. In fact, the prospect of changing habits (and thus our lifestyle-) is so frightening that we absolutely avoid it.
So–why don’t we make changing habits easy and fun? Great idea! Let’s start with this: Every day find one person to thank. Keep it simple and just do it during normal business hours, call it Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(See? How easy is this?)
Expressing gratitude is an underrated (and underutilized) habit that turns people into “good finders,” allowing them to see around corners to what’s important. We’re not talking “please and thank you” good manners here (which are often forced). We’re talking directly contacting your boss, coworker, parent, child, friend, neighbor or (even better) one of your residents – and expressing your appreciation for how they are, something they’ve done or even a posture they take.
Another way to think about this is to imagine how you would feel if someone suddenly expressed their gratitude for how you simply are every day. I think the word is electric. Okay, how about energized?
(This is what gratitude looks like in your soul.)
Our culture of entitlement and privilege is optional. Marketers and politicians want us to feel like things could be better; that we have huge voids to fill. They do this because it results in their gain. But the reality is, living comfortably and showing we are thankful for what we have by expressing gratitude (as a daily habit) leads to connection and possibility.This is what gratitude looks like in your soul.)
In a nutshell, gratitude brings us closer to others, and as human beings, togetherness is vital to our survival. (It’s in our DNA – our ancestors couldn’t face an angry lion alone, but they could as a group.) This connection has never been more important than now, in the face of entrenched social isolation as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fine Art Miracles is grateful for your commitment to care for those who have a hard time taking care of themselves, whether a parent, child, relative or resident. We hope to empower you with tools to make your generous work a little easier, including Art Therapy Classes, ART2GO packages, Music Therapy and much more. Please contact us to learn more about our programs, to ask any questions, or if you simply need some help. We deeply appreciate all that you do.
I’m having a hard time kicking my peanut butter and jelly habit. But I could take up the new habit of cleaning up after myself. Or at least thanking my wife for always following me around with a broom and a dustpan!.