Have you ever thought back to a difficult time in your life and wished you could go back and do it over? That’s likely because, as Dr. Rick Hanson tells us, our brains tend to be like Velcro for the negative and like Teflon for the positive.
How we remember an experience (and how we perceive an unfolding experience) has much to do with what we choose to pay attention to.
Before you say yes to that do-over, try this exercise:
Think of one of the biggest challenges you’ve had in your life, one that was so difficult you thought you’d never get through it. Now ask yourself this: Did anything good come of it? Did I learn anything about myself or life? Am I stronger, wiser, more resilient? Did this challenge lead in a direction I might not have otherwise taken?
In paying attention to possible positive aspects of the experience, you are shifting your attention, reframing the experience. That doesn’t mean ignoring the difficulty or pain. It simply means broadening your view to include any positives that may have come of it. Keeping in mind that adversity is our common humanity, doing this helps keep perspective.
Try broadening your view to current challenges to include any possible positives, keeping in mind those past experiences.
The glass is, after all, both half-full AND half-empty.
What does humility have to do with mindfulness? In a word – acceptance. In this case, acceptance that we’re all human with our foibles and limitations. No one is perfect.
Being humble doesn’t mean being meek or weak. We have all met someone who demonstrates a humble confidence, taking ownership of mistakes and sharing successes. And we’ve all met someone who demonstrates an insecure arrogance, blaming others for mistakes and taking credit for successes. Whom would you prefer to work with? Live with? Be?
Here are a few tips from Donald Altman in one minute mindfulness to help think about humility:
- What mistakes have I made and what lessons in humility do they hold?
- How can I demonstrate to others that we’re all in this together?
- How can I remind myself that humility is a strength?
When I had my first child, my mom signed me up for a subscription to Reader’s Digest, telling me that it’d be a long time before I’d have time to read anything longer than what I’d find there.
She was so right about that! Twenty-two years later, she still gifts me this subscription and I’m finding lots of good mindfulness material there to share with you.
In the October 2016 edition, Lisa Fields writes The Goodness of Gratitude. In it, she tells us that we are living increasingly in a “me-focused world” of social media where saying thanks may be a dying practice. Say it ain’t so!
Take a moment to recall how it feels when someone does something kind for you. It may be as simple as holding open a door for you as you both arrive at the same time. Now take a moment to recall the feeling you get when you express gratitude for both the small and more significant kindnesses.
So whether it’s a quick but heartfelt thanks to the stranger on the bus or a surprise thank-you post-it note left on the mirror for your loved one, set an intention today to say thanks to at least one person. Then do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.