Last night I went out for a drink with a former colleague who is now a great friend. We get together every couple of months and dive into the meaty topics of life – family, work, internal blocks. On this day she was different. I noticed it from across the street as she walked to the restaurant. Her posture was rigid and her steps were choppy and lacking intent. As she approached I could see it all over her face. The stress from the last few weeks had taken their toll and she was done.
We got our drinks and appetizers and I started updating her on the latest installment of Lauren 2.0. She was engaged in the conversation, but not all there. Something was clearly on her mind.
“So what’s going on with you?” I asked.
She paused and knew she couldn’t dodge the question with me.
“I think I’ve been grateful for the wrong things.” She said.
She was grateful for her health and to have a job and her daughter and granddaughter’s health. All of the base needs she was thankful for.
“Anything else,” I asked.
“Well none of that is perfect, so I’ll just focus on what is guaranteed and needed.”
This was like a shot in the gut. If it isn’t perfect, is it worth being grateful for it?
I wondered how many other people out there in the world were having their gratitude stunted by The Perfection Gremlin.
Gratitude is like an engine of motivation. When we express gratitude and truly mean it, we receive and observe more things to be thankful for. When we express judgment and cynicism, guess what we see? Everything that is wrong or needs to be fixed.
I gave her a challenge since her initial request was to shift out of this funk – set your timer for 10 minutes when you get home and write down 25 things that would be fun or take care of you and over the next 30 days go out and do them.
As I suspected, she was giving out far too much output and not filling up her self-care tank. Her concerns were focused on making everyone else okay as she continued to be knocked down the priority list. By creating a list all about her needs, the gratitude and self-case lens comes into the forefront.
This behavior starts as a discipline or a ritual. It can be as easy as saying no to someone who is violating a boundary or as high impact as moving on from a job or changing locations. By putting you first, you can actually improve the overall vibe of your environment. When you’re happier, those who support and love you will be happy too.
Side Note: Another Gratitude Challenge for You - Every day write something different that you're grateful for.