Thursday, November 12, 2009

Accentuate the Positive!

I am listening to Pema Chodron's Don't Bite the Hook, and driving home tonight in the wee hours after a long day at work, one of her teachings was about something she calls "cheerfulness practice."

Her message is that the human tendency is to focus on what's NOT working - the unkind word, the friction, the unmet need. As an antidote, she suggests fully appreciating each positive thing that happens during your day, to retrain the mind. This can be anything, no matter how small. The point is to notice happiness when you experience it.

So, with that in mind, I've been reviewing my last two days. They have been hectic, and although overall the hours have been productive and relatively pleasant, I still had quite a few grumpy moments.

But, in an attempt to reframe, here are some of the good things:
  • A reader complimented me on a story from last week's paper, and came into the office to buy extra copies.

  • My boss told me I did a good job on the photographs I took this week, and thanked me for all of my hard work on stories.

  • A co-worker who has a very elderly, frail poodle named Chica showed me her latest gadget - "doggles," sunglasses/goggles for dogs - to help deal with the little girl's increasing eye sensitivity. They were so adorable I couldn't stop grinning.

  • I interviewed a new priest in town for the Russian Orthodox Church, and not only did he not flinch when I mentioned my female partner, but after the interview he gave me four of the beeswax candles he makes as a present, saying that I should use them while having a nice dinner with my partner.

  • I interviewed a couple who has been married 56 years, both of them veterans. They had received a U.S. flag flown in Afghanistan from their son, as a birthday present for the father. It will be placed in a shadow box containing all his medals. They were so thrilled to have me there, to share in their news; both had been moved to tears by the receipt of the flag. I felt honored to be their witness.

  • The grocery store had the new graham crackers that I've fallen in love with - up to this point, I'd only been able to find them at Whole Foods, which is a long way away.

  • The dogs and cats greeted me with tremendous enthusiasm when I got home at 2 a.m., after spending the day alone. Kenji the kitten appeared blinking, and we've already had a bunch of cuddle time.

  • I got an invitation to Thanksgiving diner at my best friend's house.

  • I called my grandmother to see if she wanted to go to the Firefighters Bingo night on Nov. 21, and she was thrilled.
What surprises me about this list is that the more time I spend thinking, the more good things I come up with. How about that? And looking back on it, as memories of each of these happy moments flits through my consciousness, I have a stronger and stronger sense of just having had an amazingly good two days.

You've got to accentuate the positive....


  1. What a great list! None of this even happened to me and I'm smiling. Thanks for sharing, and for the reminder about taking a fresh, positive look at the day.

  2. Ha! Another great column. I used to regularly read Herb Caen because he was so skillful, & now Jon Carroll for the same reason. It looks easy, but try to do it!

    Good for you!!


  3. Deonne and Tony,
    One more thing to add to the list...nice comments from friends on my blog! Thanks for being such faithful readers.