Every time he says it, it’s like a big blow to my gut.
“You seem to look at things from the point of view of lack - the glass half empty.” It touches a nerve. I feel immediately defensive.
“What do you mean?” I always say.
I think of myself as a harbinger of fun and positivity, a bug who’s spreading the love. But behind the scenes of my unconsciously crafted persona, I think he’s right.
I have an orientation of lack.
I’ve spent my life wanting. Something.
Something that was different than what was right in front of me.
I’ve spent my time wanting to have thick wavy hair instead of loving my fine, thin, easy-to-dry-hair.
Wanting to live in a quiet place with trees, when I lived in the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area.
And when I got to the quiet place, I wanted to move back. To the hustle, the bustle, the culture, the people.
I wanted boobs. Not bigger boobs, just boobs. You get the picture.
I didn’t get them. But over the years I’ve come to appreciate my flat chested-ness for the ease of having no breasts to get in the way when doing yoga, running or dancing.
I wanted a partner.
I got that.
Then I wanted him to be different. To be someone else. For it to be easier.
We got married and then I spent my time fantasizing about being single and how much simpler it would be.
Oh, I could go on and on. But you know that feeling. Right? That feeling of wanting something other than what you have, or grasping for some other experience than the one that is happening.
I can dig back into my childhood and find all of the reasons for this “lack” orientation. I could blame it on losing my father when I was seven, or that my family moved a lot when I was a kid, or that I was always the new girl in class. Or maybe it’s because I’m a FOUR on the Enneagram! But what good does it REALLY do to find something to blame?
So, you know what’s been helping me?
Yes, the practice of gratitude has been one of the antidotes to my feeling of lack.
It started out as a tiny experiment a few years ago to see what would happen if I practiced gratitude for 28 days. Twenty-eight days - one of those random numbers “they say” will help you establish a new habit.
So I tried it. I woke up every day and lay in bed thinking about what I was grateful for. I started with the simple things,
“I’m grateful for another day to live.
I’m grateful for this healthy body.
I’m grateful for the ease of breathing, for my beautiful home, for a loving husband.”
I immediately felt lighter and more open hearted.
I took it a notch further and set up an altar to remind myself to practice throughout the day. Bit by bit, the sour flavor of dissatisfaction began to abate with consistent practice.
Suddenly my husband became this awesome partner. I loved my home, and where I live. I loved the people I encountered each day. I loved just being alive.
As the practice took root and grew in me, I started writing in a gratitude journal before I went to bed. A smile often spread across my face as I lay my head on the pillow. I was surprised to feel happy each night naming simple things that brought me joy throughout the day.
I started seeing that I have a great life, and that there is nothing lacking. I don’t need to change anything. I simply need to drop into this moment, and appreciate what it offers.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I have this gratitude thing all wrapped up. Because I don’t. But I do notice, with regular practice, it helps me re-orient my life towards the positive.
So, whenever I start to grumble too much, or my husband points it out again that I’m looking at the glass half empty, I amp up my practice to help me out!