THE TWELVE DAILY EMOTIONAL FITNESS TRAINING EXERCISES
Exercise One: Practice gratitude
Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day.
Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese poet
In the rush and turmoil of every day we often forget to take time to express our gratitude about all the good in our lives. The bad forces itself on us and can block our view of the good. This exercise is a reminder to enjoy what we do have and be thankful.
List in your head at least three specific things you are grateful for. My list? Family particularly my two grandchildren, my many friends,a pleasant home, Whisper, my internet connection, good medical care, mountain views, sunshine. When expressing gratitude toward people, be specific, name the person, and make a plan to let that person know you are grateful for their presence in your life providing that is possible.
When you have made your list, take a deep calming breath in; then as you breathe out say “Thank You” for the first item on your list and name what you are thankful for. Breathe normally for a few minutes and then thank the second and third items on your list exactly as you thanked the first. When you have completed your list, say a general “Thank you” and finish with another calming breath.
To strengthen this exercise, place throughout your home, your office, your desk remembrances of a what makes you grateful. Any thing that reminds you of a time of joy or awe, love or victory will do: a sea shell to remind you of the beauty of a day at beach; a picture of a sunrise; pictures of those you love. My house has small rock piles here and there. Each reminds me of places I have traveled; each also reminds me of the incredible vastness and wonder of this world: something I am deeply grateful to have realized.
Place at least one of your mementos by your bed so your first conscious memory for the day is the sight of some good that has been. Every time you see one of these mementos, take a Calming Breath, look at the memento and remember the good.
This is one of the exercises that can be practiced off and on throughout the day. Every time someone does something for you, say “Thank you” out loud. When someone rings up your purchases or packs your groceries or holds a door, say “Thank you.” Say “Thank you” when something works as it should. We grumble when our computer fails or the car won’t start or the bus is late. We should be just as careful to say “Thank you” when the reverse happens. Say “Thank you.” when you see something of beauty. Say “Thank you.” when you hear some music you like. Say “Thank you” when you smell a whiff of fresh air or the scent of a flower or the aroma of fresh coffee or hot chocolate. All that is good in this world is a gift and saying “Thank you” extends the power of the gift.
When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.
Sam Lefkowitz, American humorist