Friday, January 25, 2013

Gratitude: the antidote for foreboding joy

Over the last year, I have had the privilege to discover and learn from Brene Brown. If you are one of the two people left in the English-speaking world who have not seen her Ted talks. I encourage you to go and watch them. Once you have seen her talks, then go buy her books, you will learn a great deal about yourself!

One of the things Brene talks about is "foreboding joy." She describes it as that feeling that comes over us when something good happens. You know when everything goes right at work one day and instead of feeling joyful about it, we wonder what's going to happen next - surely something terrible. Or when we are staring at our beautiful children sleeping and after a brief moment of bliss we begin to worry about everything that can or will happen to them for the rest of their lives.

Brene points out that this is a modern condition that keeps us from feeling joyful. And since we aren't feeling joy often, we don't have the resources to deal with bad things when they do come up. Joy fills our cup and builds resilience so we are better able to deal with life's bumps and bruises.

How do we change this habit of foreboding joy and begin to fill our lives with job again? Gratitude!

"Scarcity and fear drive foreboding joy. We're afraid that the feeling of joy won't last, or that there won't be enough (for whatever is in store for us next..." If the opposite of scarcity is enough, then practicing gratitude is how we acknowledge that there's enough and that we're enough."

How do we "practice" gratitude? Brene mentions keeping a gratitude journals, filling gratitude jars, and family gratitude rituals. These are all great practices. I find first and foremost we have to understand how important joy is for ourselves, our life and the health of our family. Once we have a commitment to joy, we can find all kinds of ways to use gratitude to bring feelings of joy back into our days.

So the next time a joyful moment comes into your life, and instead of feeling it you begin to wonder when the "other shoe will drop" stop and take a moment feel grateful instead. The foreboding will leave you with only joy to fill the space and your life.

"Daring Greatly" by Brene Bown, 2012

No comments: