TRIGGER: Whenever you find yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation.
TOOL: Think of three things that you’re glad about even in this unpleasant moment. They can be things that you’re glad are not happening or things that you’re glad are happening. Feel the gladness, let yourself smile. The motto for this tool is “Things could always be worse.”
When the Sky Seems to Be Falling On You...
One summer afternoon, my mother and I were walking in Washington, DC, near the museums of the Smithsonian. A gusty wind swept down the street followed by storm clouds blotting out the sun. We knew that rain was imminent, but we still had several blocks to our car . . . if we could only make it before the heavens opened.
Lightning lit the sky; thunder boomed. The air whipped so suddenly that it took my baseball cap right off my head. And then the downpour began.
People around us gasped and darted to the nearest museum entrance. The rain beat down furiously and relentlessly, drenching us within seconds. We ran with the crowd and crushed into the foyer of a museum filled with soggy pedestrians.
Playing the Glad Game
My mother sighed and grumbled. People around us, many of whom were trying to calm crying children, also sighed and grumbled. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “I think now would be a good time to play the Glad Game.”
“What’s that?” asked my mom.
“It’s a game started by Pollyanna. I play it all the time with the kids.”
Pollyanna is a beloved fictional character in a book by the same name written in 1913 by Eleanor H. Porter. Pollyanna has an optimistic knack of finding things to be glad about even when the situation is dire. Ever since reading the book, I’ve used it with my kids whenever we find ourselves in troublesome situations.
I'm Glad That...
“I’ll go first,” I suggested. “I’m glad that I’m with my mom.” (We don’t live near each other so it’s always a treat to spend time together.) “I’m glad that I don’t have a screaming infant with me.” (Being surrounded by screaming infants can be rough, yes, but actually being responsible for the screaming infant is another level of misery.) “And lastly, I’m not vomiting.” (My kids and I have a joke that I always use this one in the Glad Game.)
My mother joined in happily. “I’m glad that we had this museum to dash into. I’m glad that our car isn’t too far away. I’m glad to be with my daughter.” (And we hugged.) Yes, we were sopping wet and mashed into a small space like human sardines, but we found a way to divert our attention from the unpleasantness and redirect our energy toward gratitude.
PURPOSE: When we focus on the positive even when something negative is happening, we learn to redirect our thoughts and stop wallowing in misery. Gratitude and perspective are direct routes to inner peace.
©2011. All rights reserved.
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group,
an imprint of The Penguin Group. www.us.penguingroup.com
Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity
by Ashley Davis Bush.
It can be a challenge to reach a calm and relaxed mindset, especially in our modern world. But in Shortcuts to Inner Peace, Ashley Davis Bush helps readers learn how to hit the pause button amidst the chaos with a spirit of mindfulness-linking fast, easy, and restorative respites to ordinary everyday activities.
About the Author
Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and grief counselor in private practice in Epping, New Hampshire. She is the author of several self-help books: Transcending Loss , Claim Your Inner Grown-up and Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 70 Simple Paths to Everyday Serenity. Her work focuses on coping with losses, searching for meaning, maximizing one’s potential, finding inner peace, and navigating transitions. Ashley shares her thoughts monthly in her newsletter, Still Waters: Tools and Resources for Living Deeply. She facilitates two online grief support groups, one for grievers on www.facebook.com/transcendingloss and one for finding inner peace www.facebook.com/shortcutstoinnerpeace. Visit her website at: http://www.ashleydavisbush.com
Recent book by this author