When relationships are new, everything seems possible. The terrain that you cover together seems lush, inviting and easy to navigate.
But at some point, little grooves may begin to develop on your path, as the two of you spend time together, being who you are, with your own quirks, habits and norms. At first these grooves are not a problem, but gradually you become less sure-footed, as they begin to trip you and to require attention to navigate. Little hills and barriers also form as you make your way together. You start to know where these obstacles are, and anticipate them as you make your way around. While sometimes you may hop over them, or gracefully sidestep them, other times you may kick at them or stamp your feet. Eventually, as these territorial landmarks grow and deepen, you may become disillusioned and frustrated. What happened to that beautiful, inviting plot of land that you set out on together?
Actually, we don’t need to be in an intimate relationship to know this kind of pattern — a similar process can occur on a macro level with life itself, as we make our way around. If we are not careful, the potholes and barriers that develop, as we interact with life, can come to dominate our experience. In an effort to address them, we may ruminate about them, analyze them, and talk about them. Despite our best efforts, they may or may not budge.
But the more we focus on our struggles, the less we focus on the blessings and gifts that are also part of our lives. The blessings and gifts are just as real as the problems, but they don’t necessarily carry a charge with them. Though they line the paths of our life each day, they may not reach out and grab us by the throat. If we allow our attention to be tugged and pulled by the emotional charge that accompanies our problems, our blessings and gifts may never really come into focus in our lives. When this happens, our spirit suffers and our relationship with life becomes distorted and strained.
The ToDo Institute has developed a truly unique program that addresses this aspect of human nature. Gratitude, Grace & a Month of Self-Reflection is a powerful distance learning program that will provide structure and guidance for cultivating appreciation in our lives – not some vague and distant sense of appreciation, but a rich, specific, heartwarming connection with the supports and gifts that line our lives each day. This program has the potential to transform your relationships and your experience of being alive.
The program begins on Thursday, November 10, 2011. Please join us and a rich community of fellow-travelers, as we navigate the rich and complex paths of life together.
Linda Anderson Krech, LICSW, is Program Director of the ToDo Institute and has been a frequent contributor to Thirty Thousand Days. She is the author of Little Dreams: A Practical Guide to Spiritual Parenting and has been teaching Japanese Psychology for over 25 years.