Habit of Mind

Habit of Mind

I recently read this phrase here. Gottman was speaking to family relationships, having a habit of seeing, of looking for what is going right, good and otherwise well in our day to day family interactions. And I loved the imagery his phrase, in this context, brought to mind.

As we search for ways to bring and protect safe space in our lives, places of resort, this habit of mind, this effort to look for what is going right, well and good, means that we have chosen to spend our energy on recognizing and growing more good in our life. For example, trauma would have us hold onto the past, our over vigilant minds stubbornly holding on to those harmful damages from our past in order to never let us forget the circumstances that resulted in our pain, a protective strategy that works fine for things like hot stoves, walking out in front of a car, or being eaten by a bear. But when the trauma is a result of another’s actions, especially someone we trusted and loved, holding onto the past well beyond the lessons to be learned, will not serve to protect us in the future. It may, in fact, do the direct opposite as our fear, distrust, and cynicism pushes away possible friendships and relationships that could have brought healing and joy. Or clouds our focus to the point that we are shackled with depression, anxiety and the past that won’t stop replaying in our souls.

So. To break through that downward spiral, our minds, if given the chance, will quiet successfully take flight on an upward spiral of hope, choice, and ultimately healing and freedom. This is done with that habit of mind, with that conscious effort to note: what are my strengths, my gifts, my hopes, my dreams, even my wishes? What has God put into my life that brings me joy, enlightenment, fun? What do I prefer to see myself as in 6 months from now? 1 year? 5 years? And what can I start to do, right now, to begin?

Another invaluable part of noticing and focusing on the good things going on in our lives is that it also creates an upward spiral in our families. It gives those we love permission to also break out of the painful season our family has been enduring in life post trauma. For we do not suffer alone, our children, our partners, our family members are impacted by our suffering, by each other’s suffering.

So when all the world is COVID, political unrest, and past harm and injury, do we also see the beauty of the sunlight against leaves turning for fall? The way the clouds hang thick around the base of Mt. Rainier, her peak rising triumphantly up, an invitation for us to rise above too? Do we see that small moment when our pre-adolescent meekly tried to surprise us with a chore well done? Or do we nurture an inspired thought that came into our mind, that if followed, would bring new creative joy into our life? Do we take risks, where the result far outweighs the inconvenience, work or fear of rejection? Do we take up something we have been longing to do, just for reasons of joy and fulfillment, but haven’t found a way to justify doing yet?

Let’s engender this habit of mind. Let’s grow light in our lives and build our way to a better tomorrow, today.

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