A strange confluence of activities occurred in my life this past weekend. I was reading The Gratitude Diaries, by Janice Kaplan (it’s by the way – check it out if you haven’t yet!), at the same time as watching Hurricane Irma wreak havoc on Caribbean islands and Southern US states that hold not only amazing vacation memories for me, but also the lives and livelihoods of people I care about. It was a bit of a mind-bender to invest time into reminding myself of the NEED – energetically, emotionally, even physically – to stay thankful, grateful and in-luck while keeping half-attention on the fear and devastation that CNN was broadcasting about. Sometimes it takes contrast to clarify – so I thought I’d write this month about some of the a-ha’s that came out of an opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum awareness.

A-ha #1: Luck is in the eye of the beholder.

If words could move, a quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus would’ve reached off the page and smacked me across the forehead – or at least that’s how I felt once I’d read it. “Nothing is enough,” it said, “for the man to whom enough is too little.”

Do I count my blessings enough? Am I so caught up in pursuing the next accomplishment that I forget to observe gratefully where I already am? I am supremely lucky! I have safety and security, a job that I love, a community that nourishes my soul, food on my table, a family to wrap their arms around me, and the freedom to keep chasing my purpose. I am lucky!

As the TV provided images of people picking-out and packing-up the pieces of their lives that would fit into their car as they fled the storm, I began to predict which ones would fare best if destruction came. It was those that realized things were just things and that they’d rebuild whatever they lost. The ones who found small and large things to feel lucky about – the ones who held on to optimism – the ones who chose to focus on the sun coming out eventually rather the rain coming down right now. I said repeatedly this weekend that I’m lucky to live somewhere that a hurricane will likely never reach. And I’m lucky to have the received the vicarious reminder to count my blessings and feel the luck.

A-ha #2: No news can be good news

Did you get sucked into the Irma coverage? I did – and I had to suck myself right back out.

Over the last number of years, I’ve developed the habit of carefully curating what I allow into my inner world. I try to stay apprised enough of current events to be able to hold a decent ‘cocktail party conversation’ but removed enough to keep them from affecting my moment to moment life. My belief is that if we really are heading to hell in a handbasket (as mainstream media seems to focus on making us believe), I can affect more change of direction from the outside than in.

But media coverage of tragedy can be seductive. My ego told me it was empathetic to keep aware of every detail of others’ strife. Honest reflection says it was more likely just voyeurism. I noticed, as the days wore on waiting for Irma to make her move, that I was feeling drained – emotionally raw and physically worn down.  How would that have left me readier to help?  Letting images into my conscious and subconscious brain from what I was watching and hearing made me anxious and sleepless, feeling heart palpitations and tension. I was creating strain on my body via a fight/flight reaction to a stimulus that I could neither fight-with or flight-from. Not an effective use of resources!

The choice was clear. Irma would do what she’d do with or without one more set of eyes on her. I chose to set my sights and my energy on good news only and drop the CNN obsession. And I felt better for it.

Aha #3 – Good feels good

Point number 3 is, I suppose, the rebound from point number 2, and including it might be a little gratuitous, but – why not.

Here’s the thing; when I get busy, sometimes I forget to do the things that make me feel good. When Mother Nature bearing down with a force unlike we’ve seen before, we can sometimes feel obliged to let go of feeling good. Taking the time to re-invest in feeling good by reading a book with a positive perspective, that re-taught me ways to focus on good and grateful behavior FEELS GOOD. Turning my focus from angsty news stories to ones covering people going above and beyond to assist their neighbours FEELS GOOD. Feeling good mentally FEELS GOOD physically. Turning my attention from empathetic woe to empowered searches for ways to contribute FEELS GOOD. How fast my energy and feeling of wellbeing bounced back once I shed the negativity FEELS GOOD

And as I close this month’s blog I’m renewing my commitment to living in good-ness because it FEELS GOOD. I’m hoping you’ll join me!!

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