November 23, 2021

We are History in the Making: How do we meet the Challenge?

Gratitude Practice
The world is in an epic place in history.

Yet, life-altering moments are often difficult to discern while in the midst of the experience.

Think about a time in your life where you knew something big was happening but you were too immersed in it—mired in the details and unable to grasp the magnitude of the experience.

Those moments are often what we call functioning in “survival mode.” We do what needs to be done to make whatever is happening have the best outcome possible.

If you’ve ever had a newborn, you know what you are doing is critical work—shaping the future of your family and the precious miracle, however getting through the days and endless nights of feedings on little sleep is an almost impossible feat to survive (unless you had the privilege of a night nurse or hired help, which I absolutely did not).

College exams? Your first job? Caring for someone with a health challenge? Starting a company? Launching a nonprofit? Ending or beginning a relationship?

Making and shaping history is powerful work.

Those of you who have taken on the Herculean task of being courageous to make hard life choices during COVID-19 times, my fist of solidarity is in the air; I feel you.

To say the learning curve is high seems trite. These times are ones that, if we stop to think about it, can bring us to our knees in gratitude and elation—and also in exhaustion, overwhelm, and paralysis. There is so much to be done. These are uncertain and chaotic times.

Each human on the planet feels this in some capacity.

How can we meet these challenges?

Our invitation is to slow down enough to savor the moments that we will never get back. Though the pursuit is noble and the end game can be clear, daily life is where grace lives. It’s the small moments of connection over “tasks” that build meaning, story, and the history we are crafting. Without getting swept up in the details, the to-do lists, and thus overwhelmed by the magnitude of life, there is a path into becoming more present to the moments we experience.

Anytime you feel anxiety rise, breath getting shallow, thoughts swirling, and it all seems too much to handle, simply note that it is happening.

Literally, stop yourself right in your tracks.

Plant your feet firmly on the ground and feel the earth beneath you. Stand taller. Place your hand on your heart. Breathe deeply. Breathe in the prayer of “help me;” exhale “thank you.”

Simple. Game changer.

Once we pause and get back into our bodies, grounded, and present, we are able to slow down the situation and become the observer of the moment. It is in this instant that we are at one with life. We are able to fully experience what we are creating, striving for, dedicating our efforts toward, and actually enjoy the process.

This might need to be done multiple times a day, even per hour.

To avoid burnout, anxiety, and overwhelm that can accompany monumental times coupled with massive change and audacious goals, taking time to give ourselves credit is key to remaining energized, healthy, and clearheaded.

To do this, I have found the following practice of Gratitudes and Affirmations helpful.

At the end of the day before bed (or whenever you feel yourself shutting down/going to a chaotic place in your mind), place both hands in a way that brings you more fully present. This can be with your hands in prayer position, one on top of the other over your heart, or one on your belly and one on your heart—whatever works best for you.

>> Start with slow deep breathing from your belly, feeling it rise and fall. Breathe in through your nose and exhale longer out your mouth.

>> As your body and mind become more calm with mindful breathing, open your heart to gratitude and affirmation.

>> In the quiet of your being, find five reasons to be grateful, being as specific as possible.

>> Then, find five acknowledgments you can offer yourself.

What did you do well today that you can be proud of? Big or small, affirm yourself!

Acknowledgments such as I got out of bed right when my alarm went off. I fed the kids a nutritious breakfast with a smile to start our day off right. I returned that email or made the phone call I have been avoiding. I picked up trash. I offered my partner a heartfelt compliment. I closed the big deal at work. I showed up for the work party at church and contributed sweat equity to our building.

Big and small, gratitudes and affirmations allow us to remain positive in our minds, fostering better energy and cultivating hope for the future.

What we focus on expands; where our focus goes, our energy flows.

I invite you to this practice as often as it is helpful for you. I tend to do this at night in bed before sleep, which allows me to let go of the day more easefully and drift off to dreamland instead of being stuck in my to-do list that didn’t get done or any negative thoughts that can creep in at the end of the day.

Lest we forget that we are human beings, not human doings.

Our tasks and efforts are critical—yes, yet our physical, mental, and emotional states must be tended to with deep awareness, gentle care, and with high priority.

You are a priority.

Our overall well-being needs our focused attention so we can keep going, creating, and thriving as we are making history together during these almost unbelievable times. Doing anything new during a global pandemic is historic.

Together, let us choose tenderness and compassion toward ourselves and each other as we courageously step into a new world of our creation; grounded and open to being present with our history in the making.

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