Rather than focusing on being “blessed” why not practice “being a blessing.”
I have written at length on this blog about the power of gratitude. This powerful emotion can change the trajectory of our lives. If we pay attention and if we practice it—truly practice it.
I often hear people use platitudes—but what they say rings hollow when their actions do not follow what they say. Many times I have heard a person, in response to “Good morning. How are you today?” respond with “Blessed.” Maybe they are. Most times, though, the actions of the “blessed” person don’t seem to mirror blessings. More platitudes and empty scripting.
When we discuss the topic of civility in class, we spend a bit of time comparing and contrasting toxic relationships with nutritious relationships. Often my students (like most of us, IMHO) tend to focus too much energy on those energy vampires who suck us dry. They (the energy vampires) spew their poison and then walk away leaving us to wallow in their wakes. It can be draining. And it does not have to be that way.
Why not spend more time concentrating and giving gratitude to the nutritious people in our lives. These are the people that we are not only glad to see but they are glad to see us as well. The treat us with respect (and gratitude). They validate us.
Why not validate them?
Here is a little activity I do with my students.
- I give each of them a blank piece of card stock approximately 3” x 5”—or for those of us old enough to remember, about the size of a postcard.
- I ask them to think of a nutritious person in their lives. Someone who encourages, supports, pushes, pulls, and makes them a better person.
- I then say, “In the top left-hand corner of one side of this card, I’d like you to place that person’s name. In front of the name, place a salutation like ‘dear’ or ‘hi.’ Now, write that person a note explaining why he/she is nutritious to you. Only use one side of the card.”
- When they have completed that, I then issue a challenge. “Turn the card over and address it to that person. And my challenge to you is to give it/send it to that person. It will be the best card they EVER receive!” As Gertrude Stein reminded us, “Silent gratitude is not much use to anyone.”
The response is always gratifying. I’ve seen eyes well-up with tears and smiles crease lips. One young woman told me the activity got her back in touch with an uncle she had words with years ago–and had lost touch with this significant relation. Another student placed the card besides her husband’s coffee cup. And the men respond in like manner as well.
To whom would you write your postcard?
Video recommendation for the week:
When I spoke at the Wyoming Student Affairs Conference this summer, a participant shared a wonderful link with me about the science of happiness and gratitude. (Thank you, Chelse!) I will finish this blog post with that video. It is less than 8-minutes in length. Please give yourself the luxury of watching it.
Reach out this week. Rather than focusing on being “blessed” why not practice “being a blessing” to someone else.
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.