Claiming Credit for the Good in Your Life

If we all just relaxed about the size of our bodies, loved and accepted our bodies for the marvelous miracles they are, appreciated all the incredible experiences we can have in them, and treated our bodies as though we actually did love and appreciate them, rather than beat them into submission, we’d all be gorgeous and healthy in body, mind and spirit from the inside out!

~ Gena Livings, fitness and lifestyle coach

I want to challenge you to really think about what you are grateful for regarding yourself, who you are today. So often when we express our gratitude we think about the people around us, or the things that we have, the situation we are in—our jobs, our homes—and we forget about the one person who is there for all of those other things. That one person is YOU! You are the common denominator for all the good stuff in your life–and it is high time that you get some credit for that!

We are totally responsible for where we are in life. Whether you believe in the Law of Attraction, Fate, Destiny, Luck, all or none of the above, it doesn’t matter…because YOU are the only one who is with you all the time. The good and the bad, we get some credit for it all. Most of us are pretty adept at blaming ourselves for all the “bad” that happens in our lives, but not so skilled at accepting responsibility for the good stuff.

For this month, your challenge is to shift your mindset away from focusing on the things that illicit a response such as, “that was dumb”, “that was a stupid mistake”, “I only got that because of luck”, “if they only knew the truth…”, “I should have…”, “only an idiot would…”, “if I weren’t such a fat slob”, “I deserve that [negative event/comment]”, “I’m so careless”, “I don’t deserve that [positive event/comment]”, “I blew that one”, etc. These are all ways that we have of belittling ourselves. Sometimes it is by accepting MORE responsibility for something than we should. Other times it is by NOT accepting responsibility where it is warranted.

For example, one of my dearest friends is an incredible mother and daughter. Like so many of us, she wants to be “perfect” in both these areas…and takes on more responsibility than she can (or should) shoulder. When her daughter didn’t get any art classes her first semester at college my friend made it her own fault rather than viewing it as an opportunity for her daughter to take responsibility for her life.

I remember team projects at work where I took on the responsibility for the project’s success regardless of how many team members there were and what their efforts were. In my mind, if the project was a success it was due to everyone’s efforts (whether they made any or not), and if it was not a stellar result I felt like I single-handedly had let the team, and the company, down. This was despite my numerous late-nights and weekends dedicated to the project.

My friend may have been responsible for getting her child registered for classes when she was 6 and 16…but in college? I don’t think so. Does my friend get the credit for her daughter getting good grades? Nope, that belongs to the student at this point. Sure the parent teaches the importance of studying, but cannot do the studying for the child. My theory is that if we can’t get the praise we shouldn’t take the poison!

Similarly, while we can each work hard on group projects—whether at home, school or work—each individual has to contribute their part. It doesn’t help the individual or the group in the long-run if one person does all the work while the others do nothing and yet the group gets all the credit. Certainly at work the outcome is what matters—and there will definitely be people who will let you do all the work while they get the props. It is our responsibility to stand up for ourselves and not let that happen, while still achieving results for the company. One facet of that is to not beat ourselves up if things we are not in control of don’t work out, and to focus on the things we do have control over, get those working as good as possible, and take full, fair, responsibility for that success!

We are going to focus on those good things that are in our lives, things that feel good, successes and observations. Some will be things that you don’t believe (right now) you have responsibility for. Others will be accomplishments you made happen. By placing our attention on these “good” events, you may be surprised to see how many of them are happening in your life…and your life overall will feel better!

Part 1

Every day this month, identify 1 “good” thing you are grateful for in your life. The only rule is that it has to be something different every day. It could be the first thing you see in the morning, the last thing you do at night or anything in between. One day it could be something as ordinary as a sunrise. Another day it might be the companionship of your dog. Yet another it might be the praise you got at work for a project well done.

Write down in your gratitude journal, your PDA, iPhone, or on a scrap of paper what you felt grateful for. I do recommend something more substantial than a scrap of paper, because you are going to do this everyday and I believe you will refer to this often…but, if what you write it on is going to keep you from writing it, then write it anywhere! Writing it down is an important part of the exercise because it engages more of your brain. More nerves, more neurons, different aspects of your brain are stimulated by the action of writing as opposed to just thinking about it.

Definitely think about it, too. Enjoy that event or thing that you are grateful for.

Some days you will immediately see something and be filled with thanks. Other days you will go through your day and be so preoccupied that you have to “find” something to be grateful for that night.

With practice you will be more aware of things throughout your day to be grateful for. You can certainly write down more than just one thing, in fact I encourage taking inventory at the end of the day and writing down 5 things you were grateful for that day.

For the second part of this exercise you will choose one item. You may choose to complete the exercise with more than one item, but commit to one and that will be enough.

Go ahead and write something down now. Really. Anything that you have been thankful for today. It doesn’t have to be “special” or fancy.

Part 2

This is where we are going to recognize our contribution to the event/thing/person/relationship/whatever that we are feeling grateful for. Look at what you wrote. Can you see what your role was in that experience? Sometimes it is clear, but typically we think of these things as being outside of ourselves, which makes this part of the exercise a challenge.

Let’s say you saw a beautiful sunrise this morning and that is what you wrote down. Hmmm. Are you wondering how this natural event has anything to do with you? After all, how can we take any credit for the sunrise…something that happens whether we are awake to see it or not?

Of course you can’t take credit for the earth’s rotation—any more than you can be blamed for it. What definitely deserve credit for is NOTICING the sunrise. How many mornings have you rushed around getting ready for work and missed it? You also deserve credit for being AWAKE to notice it. After all, we have all slept through countless glorious sunrises in our lives. Third, you get credit for APPRECIATING the sunrise. This is different from noticing it. You can notice the sunrise as you are cursing it driving into its glare. Appreciating it is a human experience. (Well, I don’t know that other beings don’t appreciate sunrises, but I’ve never seen my dogs watching one so I’m presuming here!) Some people claim that by noticing and appreciating the sunrise, you are actually changing it. I don’t know if that is true, but I know that the exact same sunrise—same day, same town, from the same vantage point—can be viewed as beautiful, special, unique, by one person and not even noticed by another. I will hazard a guess that the one who appreciates the sunrise will go on to have a better day (there are lots of great reasons someone might have for missing a sunrise, but when we see one then we can choose to appreciate it or not.)

What made it so special? Was it the colors? The shapes of the clouds? Were there birds flying by? Were the colors reflected on a lake, pond or ocean? Was the light hitting dewdrops making tiny rainbows? Were tree branches lit in an interesting way? There can be several aspects of that one event to be grateful for.

How did you feel during the experience? Were you filled with a sense of peace? Or awe? Did you slow down for just a moment? Were you drawn out of your routine? Did you notice anything else—a sound or smell perhaps—because you were not moving around by rote?

Write down what made the experience so special. This allows us to more easily relive the experience, and also multiplies the level of gratitude we feel.

By being aware of the sunrise and then by appreciating it you are setting the tone for the rest of the day. Like tuning a musical instrument, you are guiding your body and your mind to receive positive messages throughout the day.

Go ahead and write down how you deserve some credit for whatever you wrote down in part 1. Be gentle with yourself if you are struggling a little bit—that’s why we’re only doing one. It isn’t a race. What would that event have been like if you hadn’t been there? Would it have even been possible?

Some examples—your boss complimented you on a project or presentation. Congratulations. How does it feel? What part feels the best? Did your boss compliment you in private or in front of a group? Was it said out loud or was it written, like in a review? Was the project yours alone or was it a group effort? If anything about the compliment doesn’t feel good, don’t focus on that, focus entirely on the positive feeling. Now think about how thankful you are for the compliment. Think of all the aspects of it that you are thankful for. For example, it might be that you got the kudos first thing in the morning and that was a great way to start the day (or it might have been the perfect afternoon pick-me-up). It might have been said casually in front of your peers, or another superior, giving you some group recognition. Perhaps your boss knows you are a visual person and so she wrote you a note telling you what a great job you did—so you can be thankful for the strokes AND for having a boss who knows how to communicate in a meaningful way to YOU. So now you actually have a couple of aspects of the same event (similar to the sunrise) that you are grateful for.

Why do you deserve to take credit for your boss’s compliments?  Well, the obvious answer is that if you had not done a good job you wouldn’t have gotten the compliment. Even though that seems (and should be) obvious, it is something we somehow overlook. In our determined efforts to be wrong/bad/undeserving we often overlook the obvious—or we belittle it. This is not the time to demean our part in the process. You may have clearly communicated to your boss how you like to receive praise—that is a good skill for us to all have (clearly communicating our likes to ANYONE is important skill we are not generally taught) in which case you deserve kudos for the job you did and for your communication skills.

Go ahead, think about your feel good moment and write down what made it special and why you get some props for that! You don’t have to write a novel—or even complete sentences. Write down enough that days and weeks later you will remember the event, the circumstances and your part in it.

Review your notes every night. By the end of the first week you’ll have 7 successes to review, maybe more if there are multiple aspects to be grateful for. You’ll probably notice it is getting easier to find these moments and to claim some responsibility for them. Mid-month you’ll have 14+ successes to be grateful for and by Thanksgiving you will have a couple dozen!

Your nightly review helps set the stage for the next day. By planting the seed of gratitude at night, you will find it easier to notice things to be grateful for the next day. By noticing more and more things to be grateful for and by expressing that gratitude you will soon begin to experience a shift and you will find more and more things appearing in your life for which you can be grateful. By seeing how you fit into those events your mindset about yourself will also begin to shift. You will begin to see yourself as the blessed, powerful, wonderful being that you truly are!

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