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Pray for What You Already Have
The next minute is not what we think it will be — not even close. But it can be what we decide to focus on. If we constantly look for what’s missing from our lives — that big house, dream car, perfect relationship, ideal job — then the upcoming minute might be filled with regret, remorse, sadness, frustration and hopelessness. If we consistently appreciate what is currently before us and available in our lives — the car that runs, the roof over our head, the job that provides resources and the relationships we do have, most importantly with ourselves — then we spare ourselves disappointment.
I was running a workshop when I met Hannah, a 50-year-old nutritionist, and one of the topics was overcoming depression through gratitude. During the break, Hannah approached me, held out her right arm, and pointed to a bracelet adorning her wrist. Dangling from the bracelet were all the letters of the alphabet. She proceeded to tell me the story behind this bracelet. For years she struggled with depression and anger because of a highly stressful job and some unhealthy relationships. Antidepressants had come and gone, but nothing seemed to work. By the midpoint of her life, Hannah, by her own admission, was not a pleasant person to be around. She could have just shut down; instead, she placed her faith in bringing gratitude to what was already in her life. This shift gradually and dramatically altered her experience of the stream of minutes that followed. Hannah smiled as she told me, “The change was so obvious that people at work asked me if I was taking medication. I think they were hoping it was something they could take.” To stay connected to her practice of gratitude, Hannah uses her bracelet and a journaling exercise in which she chooses a different letter of the alphabet and records all the things she’s grateful for that begin with that letter.