Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Journey to Me-Dom

If you are reading this, then chances are you know that in two days for everyone living in the United States it will be Thanksgiving.  Of course this has me thinking about thankfulness, gratefulness, and the blessings we have in life.  During the days leading up to Thanksgiving you often find people on Facebook posting daily status updates about the things they are grateful for and this gets me thinking about the irony in that.  Once December 1st comes around we will no longer see their daily thankfulness and we didn’t see it on October 31st to begin with.  While I understand that it is meant to be a nice gesture and to inspire others into thinking about the things they are grateful for, the devil’s advocate in me thinks, “Why does it take a Holiday to get people to realize they are thankful?  Why do they not post a daily status update professing their appreciation every day in March?  Why after the holiday has passed do the posts dwindle away?”  I even realize the irony in the fact that I am writing this blog post today rather than on a random Tuesday in June.  There is always hypocrisy in hypocrisy isn’t there?  It is the epitome of catch 22s. 

Now anyone who knows me knows that there is no way my thought process would end here.  It is my nature to always press deeper into everything that perplexes me and take it to the next level.  This gets me thinking while the “give thanks in November Facebook status updaters” don’t post their thanks on February 6th it doesn’t mean in their hearts they aren’t still thankful.  This makes me wonder though how much on February 6th do the people around them know they are thankful to have them in their lives?  Do the people around them still know they are considered a blessing?  Do they really REALLY know?    So what I would like to focus on this week is making sure the people around us KNOW they are our blessings in life.  Of course I don’t want them to only know it this week because that would be too ironic and much less impactful.  Of course I don’t want them to feel your thankfulness now just to have it wear off in a week or two.  In fact, I don’t really even necessarily want them to notice any kind of difference this week at all and maybe not even next week either.  What I want to happen is for us to take stock of how we approach our loved ones and take small subtle steps consistently over time so that it becomes habit for us, second nature to express how grateful we are at all times.  Our family doesn’t need to know we are changing our behavior with a purpose.  All they need to know is that one day they look back on their life so far and can feel your love for them through and through.  So, first we must think about how we approach them now.

If you have children then you have a laundry list of responsibilities related to having those children.  You have to feed them and dress them and educate them and teach them manners.  My question to you is how do you approach them?  When you child walks into the room what is the first thing they see on your face?  Is it instinctual for you to first look them over to make sure their zipper is up and their shoes are on the right feet and they put on two socks that actually match and their teeth are brushed?  Do you come towards them with your thumb freshly licked saying they have dirt on their cheek while the other hand smooths down their hair?  On Your face do they see criticisms and the checklist of all the things that are wrong with them?  OR Do they see your eyes light up and the biggest smile you have that is reserved only for them and your arms wide open ready for the biggest hug they will ever have also reserved only for them?  Now logically we all know that a mother would never rub her child’s chin with her spit soaked thumb if she didn’t love them, but a three year old doesn’t have a grownup’s logic and understanding.  Do they see your critical face or your “you are my greatest blessing face”?  Are they learning that there is always something wrong with them or that nothing makes you happier than to see them come around the corner?  Slowly over time try to start opening your arms wide open first and letting the other critical details work themselves out over time.  You will find that people will find joy in your child’s inside out mismatched sock and it is a thrill for them to see your child’s attempts and learning process in action.  The hug is better for everyone in comparison to the socks being fixed, so if you have to choose then choose the hug.

If you are in a relationship this process becomes even more complicated.  There are arguments involved, and finances, and intimacy, and annoying habits, and hot buttons to push.  It can be even more difficult to balance all of these situations with a significant other and find a place of thanks than it is with children.  Unfortunately it is also more difficult to give good solid advice about a relationship in a general way because they are all so different and complicated in their own specific ways.  Not being involved in a reader’s specific relationship makes it hard to tell them exactly what will work for them or where to start.  What I CAN tell you though is that if you are paying attention to your mate they are probably already expressing to you what it is that they need from you to feel more loved and appreciated.  In your heart you probably already know a laundry list of things you could do for them that would make them feel like you realize they are a blessing in your life.  Now all you have to do is start making those little things a habit.  (Opening your arms to them in the same way you will start doing for your children when they walk in the door rather than yelling at them for forgetting to stop and pick up some milk or keeping your back turned and just saying hello because you are too busy doing the dishes or folding laundry doesn’t hurt either.)  If it makes them crazy that you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle rather than at the end then start squeezing from the end.  When they realize you have been doing it for a while and ask why you changed and you tell them you did it for them they will know you are grateful to have them.  If you always go to bed an hour or two before they do and sleep only on your half of the bed try staying up with them once or twice a week and snuggling up close while you sleep sometimes.  Over time they will know.  If their favorite meal is your homemade lasagna, but you only make it on holidays or special occasions then try making it here and there just because they like it.  There are so many little things that can easily be done differently that we don’t even think about while we move through our habitual day in day out routines.  The one thing that is for sure is that we can only control ourselves in life, but you will find that what you put out into the universe often will come back to you tenfold.  Chances are as the people around you begin to feel your appreciation they will begin to reciprocate it in return.  It isn’t that you didn’t appreciate them before.   It is that now you are actively and consciously appreciating them every moment rather than just the moments you are reminded to focus on it and not too busy.  Don’t feel guilt over being the thumb licking mother in the past or over going to bed angry over your mates socks scattered over the floor.  Feel proud that you are actively doing something to change it.  The old version of you wasn’t wrong, but the new version of you will be even better.  It doesn’t have to stop at your front door either.  Gratitude can be expressed to your co-workers or employees, to people who make your life easier like the mailman or your doctor, your neighbors, even to animals.

These are the ways I try to challenge myself to be the best person I can be.  I have a journey through this life to become the most authentic version of myself that I can.  It is through this journey that I will find my own sense of freedom.  I call this my journey to Me-Dom.  Enjoy your journey!  We only get one.

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