I would like you to start this monthly post with a simple exercise. Right now, try and clear your mind, take a deep breath and relax.
I know, I know, we can fake this and keep reading on, but it’s important to try.
Now, having cleared your mind of clutter, think about one thing you are grateful for…go on, I’ll give you some time here to collect yourself. It could be something as simple as a sandwich or as complex as finally healing some of the mental mush that has been a part of many of our lives since March 2020.
The idea of being grateful is something I have found myself having trouble with, and not because I’m unable to stop and appreciate the simple fact that I’m here with you writing this very article. The issue is, I problem-solve for a living, and as a result I think a lot about outcomes. It’s a mental business, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s not always a chill way to operate. It’s rewarding when the outcomes are foreseeable or familiar, like at a deli or when you and a co-worker “grabba-cup,” and much more difficult when the world around you shifts into persistent chaos.
WHICH IT DID!
We disappeared from our physical connections, we drifted and had to reacquaint ourselves with a different type of humanity. And as we shifted this past year and a half, I found it difficult at times to be grateful. I had lost that PMA (positive mental attitude) and was adrift amidst doom scrolling, true crime documentaries, professional and familial responsibilities.
As I was packing in preparation for a COVID cruise out of the city and forced to consolidate / set ablaze my worldly possessions, I discovered a box of old mixtapes. Song titles scribbled in ball-point pen and marker along with musical themes that connected side A and side B to moments of me. Collage-art packaging, messages of love, hope and promise, and an up-welling of emotion. To me, this discovery was akin to stumbling upon an old photo album, but the memories were the melodies. I found myself present, and with my own thoughts of a time wrapped around these tapes. The world slowed down and for that night, the pressures of the present day washed away.
Within this menagerie of moving and music, I had these thoughts: obviously it was time to improve my PMA, and also being grateful isn’t always about being positive or present (although that helps!). It’s having an appreciation for other people in your life and their impact on you. And in that simple gesture of giving someone a musical mix, you have provided them 90 – 120 minutes of gratitude.
So, let’s come back to what you were originally grateful for, one more time before it flies out of our head. Take a deep breath and indulge in that thought again.
Now, think about how even the best sandwich of your life takes someone else to make it that way. Appreciate the people who have helped you along your many rotations around the sun, and remember to pause from time to time and be grateful. Or even better, make them a mixtape.