Am I alone in feeling like I generally verbalize my disappointment and frustration, but rarely my appreciation? I think good thoughts but don’t often express them. Why is that?
I was once talking to my children about a promise I’d been given that I would have “great joy as I raise and teach” my children. My oldest apologized. I asked why and he said, “Because you don’t have any joy! You just have stress from us making messes all the time and making bad choices.” That was a huge wake up call for me. Because the days of a mom can be hard. Add homeschooling into the mix and well, “hard” is a bit of an understatement. BUT there is also great joy! Really, truly blissful moments with my kids. Why didn’t he know I felt that way? Why do I have a hard time expressing the joy I feel?
I’m not sure why. It seems to be how my brain operates. I shy away from sharing the good thoughts I have. Like saying “I love your outfit” to a woman in line at the grocery store, or “You have a lovely smile” to the cashier, or “You really do an amazing job” to a co-worker. Or “I love being with you guys!” to my kids. Our brains seem to naturally focus on what’s wrong, not what’s right. Generally speaking. How do we train our brains to see the good instead?
As my wise mission president, Arlen B. Crouch, once said “It doesn’t take any brains to see the negative around you. There are wrongs everywhere. Use your brain and see the good.” I’m paraphrasing here but it was good advice. One way I have attempted to do this is by keeping a “Thankful Journal”.
Every day since I started it I have written at least 3 things I am thankful for that day. At the end of a long, tiring, stressful day, it’s therapeutic to take some time to reflect on the moments that were good. Some days the things I’m grateful for are that my kids are still alive, we have electronic devices to make up for my lack, and bed time. But most often I notice the little moments, or things, that I have to be thankful for. Like my little girl putting her arms up, looking at me with her beautiful blue eyes, and saying “Up!” Or our fun family UNO game before bed one night. Smooth jazz at the end of the day, the ability to get my van fixed (there was a time in our lives where that would have been a HUGE burden financially), dance parties with my kids, date night, dish washers, answers to prayers, etc. etc. When we are looking for the blessings, we find them. Even if it’s just in the form of a cough drop, or a nap, or electricity and running water.
As I notice the good in my life I find myself at home with my kids giving more hugs, saying “thank you” more often, sharing words of love and gratitude more than I did before, living in a state of joy more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, I still go into stressed mommy mode at times. I am a work in progress after all. But keeping track of the things to be thankful for has made me appreciate what I have. Which appreciation then spills over to others.
How do you share your appreciation and goodness with those around you?