I was home one afternoon and a gentleman came by to clean my windows. I had seen him in the cul-de-sac many times before and felt safe having him do the work. I needed my windows cleaned, and he needed the job. He started the work, I paid him and he never finished. In fact, he vanished before completing the job and even left all of his equipment. It appeared he was helping other neighbors and told me he would be back later. He never returned.
Initially, I was very upset. It was not cheap and he promised to clean my garage door, seal it, clean the windows and put rain protection on them. My first reaction, which lasted for a day or so when he never returned, was one of “feeling taken”. Then, one day, I reframed and thought “maybe he needed the money for his family and the holidays, etc. Maybe he needed it more than I did?” I realized that I needed to think about this from a positive perspective. It was hurting me and really, it is only money. Money is energy that goes in and out. I truly believe that people are good. Maybe this man did not have a clue how to conduct himself and felt like he deserved this money for some reason. I don’t know. I just know that I had to think about this differently. I had to surrender to what is and know, in an odd way, I was helping him.
I thought about “Thank Forward” and I realized that it was my gift to him. It maybe was not packaged in a nice box or handled the way that it normally would be when presenting someone with a gift, but in my mind, it still worked. I looked at the card deck and felt like this really pertained to having gratitude for positive thoughts and action. It was a reframing of something that felt negative into a more positive place. It made me feel better, and I am sure the money helped that man.
Practicing gratitude in our lives can potentially have an impact on our mental health over time. Researchers have found when we talk about our gratitude for others, or how grateful we are, our brains show activity in a set of regions located in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area in the frontal lobes of the brain where the two hemispheres meet. This area of the brain is associated with understanding other people’s perspectives, empathy, and feelings of relief.
I felt so much relief about having gratitude towards this experience with the window washer. I was able to move on to other things instead of ruminant about my misfortune. I can definitely see how over time, this will improve my mental health. It helped me to surrender and let go. I learned something from this experience about myself in that, being positive impacts my overall well-being. This is one simple example but imagine if I was seeing most experiences in a more positive light and choosing to react in a more positive way, every day. It is a choice I have to make. I have to pay attention so that I can choose. I will work on choosing differently next time and change this behavior so that it becomes more of who I am. I choose relief!
My colleague Julie and I created “Thank Forward: A Gratitude Action Kit” from a place of love and as a guide to help people show gratitude for themselves and others. We are starting a movement with ourselves and sharing it with everyone. If people will get reconnected with self and their interactions with others, people can realize all that they have and how they can help each other with simple, doable actions. Little by little, action-by-action, we can have a positive impact on the world.
Change some negative thoughts into positive affirmations. Take Action. Start today! The world needs more positivity and it starts with YOU.
Mia, co-creator of Thank Forward