This question was passed down to me by mom through her good friend, the late Teresa Adams.
The other night, I lay in my bed after a long workday. My thoughts were begging to climb to heights of new ideals for the future, were scrounging to crawl back to the past to see it with rose-colored glasses. I caught myself. My inner observer seemed to be especially attuned that night. The conversation in my head went like this:
INNER OBSERVER: Wait, wait, wait, hold on just one minute! Instead of longing for the sacred past or the idealized future, why don’t you spend a few minutes right HERE, right NOW, giving gratitude for the day?
MY HABITUAL MIND: Yuck! How boring?!? I don’t want to do that! I want to daydream of a beautiful future, how I’m going to lose weight and have long lustrous locks, how I will wear beautiful clothes, how I am going to make a living doing something that I love.
IO: Just try it. See if you can say what you are grateful about today, the present moment.
MHM: That does not sound fun AT ALL. I mean, I’ll try it, but I’m not happy about it.
So, I tried it.
MHM: I am grateful for this comfy bed that I am lying in, with these soft sheets. I am grateful for this cool air-conditioned room. I am grateful that I babysat two beautiful babies this morning and got to see their smiling faces and spend two hours walking through Central Park. I am grateful that I had a busy and fun night at work at the restaurant.
As I started naming all of what I was grateful for, I was amazed at how awesome my life is right HERE and right NOW.
IO: Good job! I know it doesn’t feel as fun or as juicy. But that is because you’ve trained your mind to see what is lacking or what is missing. It’s habitual. So, it requires effort to shift it, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be and the more fun you will have in the present moment!
An element that distinguishes the nine different types of personality in the Enneagram system is where your focus of attention (a.k.a. your favorite worst feeling) goes. Here they are for the nine different types:
Type One: Right and Wrong/What needs to be improved
Type Two: Fulfilling other’s needs
Type Three: Approval for tasks
Type Four: Longing for what is missing
Type Five: Detaching in order to observe
Type Six: Worst-case scenarios
Type Seven: Pleasant options
Type Eight: Power and control
Type Nine: Merging with other’s agendas
What is your favorite worst feeling? Investigate it. See why it’s juicy for you. What do you do to counteract it?
Leave your discoveries in the comments! I look forward to reading them and engaging in the conversation with you!