This post of part of a series on the subtle gifts of kintsugi gold. In this series, I am sharing some of the gifts I have discovered in the gold of my own healing in the hopes that it will help others identify the quiet gifts available to them. All people are different, however, and all forms of brokenness and healing are likewise unique, so my experience may or may not resemble yours. I hope it can still be a starting point for searching for and discovering your own gifts hidden in your healed scars.
When I'm standing in the midst of brokenness in my life, the very last thing I see is life's sweetness. And gratitude for that sweetness is the least likely feeling to arise.
In the center of that broken place, the grief and anger and fear and pain is a tsunami that wipes away everything else.
As normal as that is, the small, sweet things of life don't stop existing in that moment. The birds continue singing. Flowers keep on blooming. My morning cup of tea tastes just the same. And my favorite pair of socks are just as snuggly warm.
None of those good things of life changes. I just lose sight of them in the middle of the destruction.
Creating a gratitude practice
I first developed a gratitude practice several years before the complete meltdown in my life as I was working through one of my periodic bouts of intense depression. I've shared that story before, so I won't repeat it here. (Although it's worth reading, if you haven't seen it before!)
However, it is a practice that profoundly changed me—not because I learned to be grateful for the depression or the hard times that prompted it, but because I discovered how to be grateful for the small beauties of life that existed even in that time of depression.
Focusing on the things that I could still be grateful for even in the midst of those difficult days helped draw my attention away from all that was painful in my life at the moment to all the things that were still good.
It didn't deny the painful things. It wasn't an attempt to minimize them. It definitely was NOT an attempt to feel grateful for the hard stuff or to force myself to feel something I didn't feel.
It just provided a little balance to my attention that opened so much space for the healing that eventually came.
Even better, it kept drawing my attention back to the present moment again and again, as I sought out the sweet things in life that I am genuinely grateful for.
Discovering mindful appreciation
I usually spend way too much time in my head, worrying about the future, replaying the past, making plans to deal with this or that problem. In the process, I can completely lose sight of the present moment.
Where did my dinner go? I don't remember tasting a bite of it!
How did I get here? I must have driven right past my planned destination ... again!
Why is my cup of tea empty? I could swear I didn't drink any yet. Did I?
I have way too many moments like these. I'm too caught up in fretting about life's problems to even notice what's still good in my life.
But when I am practicing gratitude, I am forced to keep stepping out of that cerebral whirlwind to investigate my actual environment in the here and now.
What is happening in this moment that is sweet? What am I grateful for in this particular experience?
The taste of the food I'm eating. The sounds of bird song outside my window. The brush of a cool breeze against my skin. The refreshing coldness of a drink of ice water on a hot day. The scent of lilacs on the wind. The softness of my pajamas on my skin at the end of a long day. The soothing flow of each breath in and out.
Yes, finding so many things to be grateful for had an immense impact on my mood and my attitude, but it also helped teach me mindfulness with its constant drawing me back to the here and now.
Those moments gave me a break from the worrying and the obsessing that provided small respites even in the most intense times of brokenness.
Applying mindful appreciation
Of course, it turned out that this discovery of mindful appreciation and a gratitude practice during my bout with depression was just a preparation for the intense period of brokenness a few years later as my whole world fell apart on so many levels at once.
Having developed that muscle already, it was much easier to find respite and comfort in the ongoing practice of gratitude and mindfulness in that broken place because I knew from personal experience what a difference it could make.
This gift of kintsugi gold from one time of brokenness helped make the next round of brokenness easier to navigate than it would have been otherwise.
And that's why I continue to practice it even now. It helps make my rough days a bit easier, and it keeps that muscle strong and ready for any future broken places I might encounter.
It's a gift that gives so much in the moment and keeps giving for as long as I continue to practice it.
There are many different ways to practice gratitude—from gratitude journals to gratitude beads to gratitude postings on a blog or social media (like my weekly GRATITUESDAY posting on my Facebook page). Have you ever tried one of these?
If so, what impact did that practice have? How did it change you? How did it change your experience? Have you continued that practice? Why or why not?
If you've never tried a gratitude practice, what form of gratitude practice might work best for you? Would you be willing to give it a try?
Take a moment to drop out of your head and into your body. Notice what your senses are telling you about your surroundings. What are five sweet things in life that you can find in this moment wherever you are?
Other posts in this series
- The subtle gifts of kintsugi gold
- Uncovering hidden strength: A gift of kintsugi gold
- A fresh perspective on challenges: A gift of kintsugi gold
- The hardest kind of compassion: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Breaking the tyranny of emotions: A gift of kintsugi gold
- The winds of freedom: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Curiosity of the heart: A gift of kintsugi gold
- The quiet courage that matters most: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Taking the right responsibility: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Reshaping the story: A gift of kintsugi gold
- Clearer vision in the mirror: A gift of kintsugi gold
- A bedrock of trust: A gift of kintsugi gold
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