I ask myself the same essential question that my clients pose in my office every day without exception. How do I find happiness and live a normal, decent life in the face of the personal trials all families encounter?
My answer is fundamental to my way of life and the foundation of my practice.
I am grateful for all that is good in my life.
I am mindful to expand my gratitude to the things we often take for granted, a place to live, food on the table, dear friends and loving family. Gratitude shapes my entire outlook on life.
When you think about it philosophically, our very existence is entirely gratuitous
Every breath we draw is a gift, every moment of existence a blessing awakening us to a new wonder. Without gratitude for what we have, we will not be happy because we will always want to have something more!
Gratitude is innate, but it also can be enhanced with a mindful, daily practice that can be learned, as with any skill. Most of my clients have heard me say, ‘life is an improvisation, not a pre-written script.’ Because I believe fully in that axiom I found an Improv for Therapists workshop, which I signed on to take!
Here’s wonderful exercise we do each meeting to demonstrate how grateful feelings correlate with positive action and the freedom to be creative and collaborative.
A person in the group shares five things that make him/her happy. To demonstrate support, the group chants ‘one’ after the first joy is expressed, ‘two’ after the second and so on. Then we all chant, ‘five things, five things, five things.’ There’s no right or wrong involved, it’s simply expressing feelings and having them validated.
Okay, I’m not ready for Second City, but you get the drift. The Improv Therapy Group class trains me to believe each in the other, to substitute optimism for skepticism, to remind me of the small acts of kindness that can make a difference for others… the qualities akin to experiencing gratitude and being attuned to our true nature.
Like all the men and women I am privileged to work with, I, too, ask the basic question every day, how do I find happiness? My answer is unwavering: be grateful for the miracle of life; believe in the basic good that exists in all of us.
For humanity, for our planet, there is no other choice.