Gratitude 3.1 - Disarmingly Simple

Click on this photo  to hear Lyedie read a story about chasing this rainbow, and catching it!

Click on this photo to hear Lyedie read a story about chasing this rainbow, and catching it!

Daily Gratitude 3.1 - Can be played solo or as a duet on Facebook

This disarmingly simple practice will build your gratitude muscle. The Daily Gratitude 3.1 Practice is designed to build your pre-frontal cortex and to wire up the neural pathways between your brain and your heart.  The truth is we can accomplish goal after goal and never experience the joy of fulfillment if we haven't developed the ability to pause and experience gratitude.  Gratitude is one of the capacities on the grace side of the grace and grit continuum. It takes dancing the whole continuum to fulfill our longings. 

Follow these instructions carefully, and to ensure your success, be sure to KISS (keep it simple stupid).
What it takes:

  • Three minutes a day and the willingness to respond in writing to your 3.1 prompt (Solo)

  • Showing up on Facebook for your partner-in-gratitude on a daily basis. (+Three minutes to Duet)

  • Your willingness to see the good and to take a few moments to savor it. + 1 minute

Making Gratitude 3.1 a daily practice (solo or as a duet) will calm your nervous system by developing the integrative functions of your brain.  It is one way to evolve beyond the negativity bias that keeps you safe, but that often generates ill serving responses to the complexities of modern life. Gratitude 3.1 invites you to fire the appreciative capacity of your heart together with thoughts, events, people in your every day life. Sharing it with another over the course of a month or more, is an opportunity to develop discipline, trust and attuned communication.  This practice feels good because it rewires your brain to take in the good. As the Interpersonal Neuro-biologist, Daniel Siegel aptly observes about the process of retraining the brain, “What fires together, wires together.”

Let me know how it goes, and please do share this practice with your friends. The more buoyant spirits we have in the world the better!

Step 1. Start Solo by practicing with this simple writing prompt on a daily basis. This is a melody you can always find, even in the midst of uncertainty, chaos and complexity.

List three things you feel grateful* for: (Brief answers are best)

Describe one thing that went well in the last 24 hours. (Briefly)

Take a few minutes to breathe in and savor each entry.

*Important Note: Gratitude is not positive thinking. No need to get smarmy and try to sugar coat your life with this practice. Look for 3 things you feel genuinely grateful for or glad about (however small or grand) and list them.  Some days it will be something big and fabulous, other days it may be that the sun came up this morning, your neighbors dog didn't bark all night, or you found ripe avocados at the grocery store. You can always find something, even in the midst of a challenging day, or if you are going through a rough patch.

Duet Option - Step 2: Invite someone to play with you as a duet on Facebook (Highly recommended).

Find a friend who longs to experience more gratitude; who you trust enough to share your answers to these questions with on a daily basis, who is willing to share their answers to these questions with you on a daily basis, and who doesn’t mind being on Facebook for 6-7 minutes a day for the next 30 days. This should be someone who you deem both reliable and trustworthy. Share this link with them in your invitation.

Step 3: Designate a space

Create a Secret Facebook Group and invite them to be your only friend in that group.

Step 4: Agree to post every day at a specified time (morning, mid-day, evening) using the 3.1 writing prompt in Step 1.

Step 5. Read and Like each others posts every day. Comment sparingly and, if at all, supportively. The key is to not get caught up in the content of each others melody but to maintain the duet by keeping it simple and staying connected. KISS

Step 6. Take a few moments to breathe in and savor your entries as well as appreciate your partner’s entries. Metabolize that gratitude and feel how it optimizes, shifts and shapes, your state of being.

Keys to Optimizing a Gratitude 3.1 Duet on Facebook:

Finding a reliable and trustworthy gratitude duet partner.

Being a reliable and trustworthy gratitude duet partner. Show up for yourself, your partner, and for the gratitude. Just by making your daily post you will encourage each other. On the contrary, not showing up with your daily post and Like can turn this from being an uplifting experience into a downer . . . Be the cause of gratitude, yours and theirs.

Keeping it to just the two of you.  If you invite others into the group you will have more posts to read and the process will complexify and get bogged down. A duo is fundamental and potent, you’ll see. More KISSing.

Sharing: If your enthusiasm for gratitude gets infectious and someone else expresses interest in being part of a Daily Gratitude Duet, share these instructions with them and encourage them to get a partner.

Sticking to the Structure: Structure is what makes marvelous improvisation. Use the Secret Face book group you created only for playing the Daily Gratitude Duet – Refrain from muddying the tune with other melodies . .

Working with 30-day increments: Agree to play for 30 days and then evaluate. You can always decide to re-up for another 30 days. My friend, Gregor, and I kept it up for 8 months before we recognized that it was time to complete.

Complete and Celebrate: Recognize when your Daily Gratitude Duet is coming to a close. Some signs that could indicate that it is time to “consciously uncouple” are boredom with the process, decreased frequency, along with a marked increase in the buoyancy of your spirit and capacity for gratitude.  (No this is not a marriage, it is just a duet.) Clear endings are enormously satisfying. Trickle outs reduce potency and give rise to disappointment. You will get more benefit if you complete and celebrate.

Here is one way to structure your final posts with a great endnote:

Three things about playing this duet that I’m grateful for:

Three things about you (your partner) that I’m grateful for:

  1. .

  2. .

What went well in the last 30 days?

Let me know how it goes, and please do share this practice with your friends. The more buoyant spirits we have in the world the better!

May your everyday life be filled with gratitude.

Blessings, Lyedie

 

Chasing Rainbows - The Story

Last week I had occasion to be out chasing rainbows.

It was a steamy Saturday afternoon and William and I had just been driven off of Crane’s Beach by a hauntingly beautiful thunderstorm. While making our way back to the city a double rainbow began flirting with us from behind the power lines on the east side of Route 1.  At one point, we pulled over to take some pictures, and lo and behold so did everyone else! There we all were by the side of the road, enthralled, a bit giddy even , and laughing while trying to capture the moment without those damn power lines. One woman leaped out of her car, turned to me (a perfect stranger), “Wow. How lucky are we? There just must be a God. Who else could it be?”

Even when you know the science of it, a rainbow is a miracle. I was all caught up in trying to get a good shot. I stopped peering at the miracle through the tiny screen of my I Phone. And I looked up, softened my scrunched up brow and just stood there for a moment to soak in what was happening in the sky. I felt a familiar melt in my heart. I stood as witness to that phenomenon that appears only when sunlight strike rain droplets and conspires to create a spectrum of light hovering in the sky. Rainbow.

I'd caught myself in the middle of missing a rainbow, while I was trying to catch it.  For a coach who is all about presence and cultivating gratitude and all that razzmatazz, it was a humbling moment to put it mildly.  I know that appreciative moments aren't just caused by the dramatic generosities and occurrences like rainbows. They are generated in specific neural pathways that connect our brain to our heart.  When those pathways are hijacked, we miss stuff, even flirtatious double rainbows. I took in that side-of-the-road infusion of awe and gratitude and then I turned toward my friend William, "Let's find a side road down that way, where we can lose these power lines."  That was when we found this sweet spot and, I found the presence of mind to compose this photo.

A few years ago a good friend and colleague and I were in the winter doldrums. It was January and we noticed in our conversations that we had a strong tendency to share our challenges and struggles. We were both studying the relatively new field of neurobiology and we knew that the lower regions of our brain gives challenge and struggle priority. We got intrigued by the idea of retraining our brains to look for was what was working and to generate the unique constellation of neural connections that create the feeling of gratitude. That is the science of it. We also knew that it takes repetition over time to retrain the brain. (There is considerable debate among experts about how much time and how much repetition, so I'm not going to get all sci-ency with you about it here.) We make our livelihood designing practices to develop resourceful capacities in our clients and we are always experimenting onourselves.

We cooked up a daily gratitude practice and we played it together as a duet on Facebook over the course of what turned out to be 8 months.  The practice was simple. We shared three things that we were grateful for and one thing that went well in the private container of a secret group on Facebook. Posting every day created a sweet intimacy between us, gave us both greater capacity to notice the good stuff that was right there in our lives. I treasure the memories of those mornings that I would wake up, go down to my kitchen and settle down with a cup of coffee to make my daily post only to find that my dear friend in Toronto was out ahead of me with his 3.1. This wasn’t a rainbow occurrence, it was a wow-the-sun-rises-every-day practice.

In the spirit of chance encounters with rainbows, and seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, here are some instructions for the gratitude practice that my friend Gregor and I cooked up on a cold day in January and managed to keep up well into September. Don't just wait for rainbows. Find a trustworthy and reliable partner, and practice gratitude with as much devotion and gentle, but firm self discipline as you can muster. Showing up for this will bring you the sweetness of connection and train your brain to connect with your heart so that gratitude becomes an every day occurrence. My wish is that it will unleash as quietly powerful a shift in your life as it did in mine. The buoyancy of your spirit will sneak up on you. You might find yourself skipping down the sidewalk, singing in the shower, or unabashedly telling someone what you love about them . . . And if you happen to catch yourself missing a rainbow, you'll be more likely recover yourself in time to savor the moment. Make it work for you. And let me know how it goes.