It’s true. We see what we’re looking for. That’s a phenomenon that motorcycle safety folks have known for a long time, as a result of research on motorcycle accidents and human behavior. The most common thing that people who’ve hit a motorcyclist say is, “I didn’t see him.” Nowadays, the motorcycle safety bumper sticker phrase is “Look for Motorcycles.” We see what we are looking for.
A gratitude search sends us looking for things in our lives for which we can be grateful. Years ago, Oprah called upon us to write those things in a daily Gratitude Journal. So did my friend Emily when she led our AAUW book group meeting after we’d read Freedom Writers. Emily even supplied us with journals and pens. My enthusiasm for those projects lasted for awhile, then waned. Over the years, I would occasionally return to jot down a few items on a list in my Gratitude Journal.
Just before Christmas, PattyB, another friend, challenged our small facebook group to list three things great or small that we were grateful for each day and to post our list to the group. My first reaction was less than enthusiastic. Hey, I was grateful enough without writing it down. And, I had ‘been there, done that.’ But, I decided to join in anyway.
That decision to participate has made a huge difference. PattyB’s challenge and her example have forced us to take a good look at our lives. I began to more often notice and appreciate small things along the way. When it’s time to report and I scan the day, I realize my ‘cup is overflowing.’ I have many instances for which I am grateful.
Expressing gratitude restores us and lifts our happiness levels. Lee Coit, author and teacher, writes that gratitude forces us to look deeper than the surface. It allows us to see more and directs us away from the negative to what is right in our world as we focus on the positive aspects.
Even in the best of lives, we can get caught up in seeing the negative. We may forget the positive or take it for granted. But, looking for the gratitude spots brings renewal and the realization that a lot of things really are going our way. We do see what we are looking for.
Today, I am grateful for 1) friends who encourage me and enrich my life 2) being able to sit outside in the sunshine on a January afternoon 3) my decision to participate.
What three things are on your gratitude list for today?
~ xoA ~