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Taking in the good
Q: What is good around you right now?
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Last week I started listening to the new season of the OnBeing with Krista Tippett podcast. The host kicked off a new series called Foundations in a new format - short fifteen minute offerings. The first episode asks listeners to practice noticing and naming what is good and life-giving in their environment and everyday interactions.
I make a conscious effort to not get engrossed in the everyday negativity that is portrayed in the news and sometimes even in my thoughts. I have been trying to also get my family to focus on the positive aspects within our daily life. This episode inspired me to bring this prompt into our dinner table conversations.
Over the past few days, this practice - of taking in the good - has helped me change my perspective even when things tend to annoy me. The other day I noticed how my husband was able to accomplish all of his tasks and new habits by organizing his schedule around the kids, like squeezing in a run while waiting for a class to finish. Initially I was annoyed at his ability to prioritize himself, but I realized it was mostly because I was not prioritizing my own needs. Reminding myself of the prompt, I challenged myself to notice the good. I recognized that he was playing to his strengths. His energy allows him to keep up with our two boys. His dedication to establishing new habits in his daily routine serves as a good example to our kids to take care of themselves first.
Taking in the good, helped me catch myself and change my perspective. We each are doing what we are best at and that is what makes us a good parenting team. At the dinner table this week, I acknowledged his commitment to his habits. I hoped that by doing this in front of our kids, I was able to bring their attention to the good in their dad.
This past week has been rough. There was a death in my extended family and I've had a hard time processing it. I lost someone I was very close to, who saw me for who I am. After the initial shock and tears upon hearing the news, I found myself filled with regret and grief. Regret at not reaching out to him more over the past several years. Grief for the loss of his presence.
That evening, Mitali sent me a link to the On Being episode she mentions above. The next morning I listened to it on my walk. Notice what is good around you and name it, and take it in. This is actually what my Uncle was known for. He would focus on what was good in each person that he came across. I don't know if he didn't see the ten things that were wrong or he just didn't talk about it. Instead, what he did was bring attention to the things that were good. And he talked about those openly, making each person feel loved, feel like a good human being. So listening to Krista talk about taking in the good the morning after my uncle passed felt like a message from him, from the Universe.
I came home and journaled and my regret transformed into gratitude. I was thankful for the positive influence he had on my life. For his advice when I reached out years ago to talk about my decision to marry my husband. For the very real conversations we always had. Last year after staying with us, he sent me a sweet message telling me how happy it made him to see me happy. He had taken the time to notice every small positive attribute in my child, my husband and me. When a respected elder in the family acknowledges you in this way, it has a deeper impact. This is a gift that he gave to me, my cousins and everyone he came across.
Take in the good. This is such a powerful exercise. Before expressing what one is thankful for, one needs to notice what is good. This weekend, Mitali saw how raw and emotional I was feeling and suggested we sit down with our partners and practice taking in the good. I walked away from the experience feeling much lighter.