Continuing with a recent theme, I’ve been thinking about what practices can offer support during a time when so many sources of distress, uncertainty, suffering, and fear are in our personal and collective atmosphere just about all the time. As I pondered our current collective situation, solution-focused therapy practices came to mind. In solution-focused therapy, clients are invited to place an emphasis on noticing things that go right in their environment, relationships, and everyday lives.
With this in mind, I’d like to offer a practice around noticing what’s going right. When we are able to do that, we perceive the world through a filter more focused on wholeness, where there is room for everything—for what causes discomfort and distress and what offers support, optimism, hope, inspiration, and enjoyment. All too often, it seems to me, we can become caught in a focus on what’s negative or destructive and forget that there are also positive and constructive things going on in our world.
A mundane example related to the situation with my feline housemates that I described last week is not only a recognition of the pain and distress caused by surgery but also a recognition of the blessings offered by medication that reduces pain and the slow “bouncing back” of all concerned.
And so, for this week, here’s a practice to play with. As you do, please track where you find yourself not wanting to shift from problems to what’s going right. It can be very illuminating to discover how loyal we can be to what causes us distress and our culture tends to discount, if not negate outright, positive actions and events happening locally and around the world.
- To begin, take some time to settle into yourself, into what you experience as your core, your internal center of gravity. Sometimes, it can help to follow an out-breath down inside yourself to the natural landing place it invites and then to just hang out there, noticing the support of your body.
- Now, bring to mind something that went right for you recently, or something that unexpectedly lifted your spirit. This is an invitation and there’s no need to work at remembering anything. Just notice what comes into your awareness when you hold the intention to become aware of something that falls into the category of a positive awareness.
- As you hang out with whatever it is that came to mind, notice how it affects your thoughts and emotions. Also, notice the sensations in your body as you resonate with what came to mind. Again, there’s nothing to work at or do. Instead, it’s an invitation to simply notice the impact of focusing your awareness on what’s going right.
- Now, take a moment to bring to mind another example of things going right and hang out with that for a bit. Again, notice how this process affects the quality of your thoughts, emotions, and sensations.
- If you’d like, choose a third example and experience its effect on you.
- Then, notice how you feel if you were to create an intention to notice at least one thing each day that goes right or unexpectedly lifts your spirit. Be sure to allow mixed feelings and be sure to remind yourself that focusing on what’s going right in now way negates things that bring distress, concern, anger, or any other feeling or reaction. This is an exercise in wholeness—there is room for everything. Here, you choose to focus your attention on the “what’s going right” aspect of wholeness rather than the “what’s a disaster” aspect of it.
- When you’re ready, notice again your internal center of gravity, your core, and notice your experience as you focus on it. It’s an important aspect of your own wholeness, as it has within it an underlying steadiness that cannot be disturbed.
- Finally, bring yourself back by wiggling your fingers and toes, and become aware of the first thing you notice that’s going right in the environment around you.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise. Allow those judgments simply to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them. They are an automatic aspect of our human awareness and don’t have to capture our attention as they arise and move through.