To What Are You Giving Your Attention?

Act Happy Week Spring Flowers

It’s been a wet winter here, so our yard is a reeking mud marsh dotted with swampy pools deep enough that we’ve attracted nomadic geese. We are in COVID-19 lockdown (Day 7). Our internet is spotty and overloaded, and my nine-year-old iMac chose today to fully embrace dementia. Our sump pump is blocked. A skunk has built a nest beneath our shed.

If I chose to give all my attention to those issues, I might assess that my life is shit and I am suffering.**


…on a morning walk I found crocuses (see picture) and was reminded that Spring arrives a day early this year. I later met with a client for a “coach walk” outside (keeping physical distance!) and we happened on a roaring waterfall and enjoyed a moment of calm together.

On the home front, our family has eaten home-cooked meals for a full week as we spend extra time together. We turned over our garden to plant peas and lettuces soon. All four working adults in our household have figured out how to continue working in ways that help us feel safe. And we are grateful for the creative ways my grandkids’ teachers have found to keep connected to their students and support us in homeschooling them.

Viewed through that lens, life is pretty good. 

AND let’s notice that BOTH sets of data are true for me. Muck AND flowers. Problems AND possibility. Fear AND enormous creative energy.

There’s Great Power in AND…

The most powerful exercises in Positive Psychology revolve around the practice of Gratitude – purposeful focus on what you HAVE (vs lack), what is WELL in the world (vs wrong) and what is POSSIBLE (vs impossible)

Here are your final exercise ideas for Act Happy Week, to practice Gratitude:

  • Shift your lens: Focus on what you have; what you still have despite the crisis or what’s newly emerged as a result of it.
  • Gratitude Journal: Take five minutes daily to write down 3 things you’re grateful for (in a month, you’ll have 100!)
  • Focus on the AND: Split a paper into two columns. On the left, list your current complaints or “problems.” On the right, offer a positive perspective. (e.g. Problem: Time required to home school my kids. Positive: AND my kids are healthy and learning.)

** Let’s not judge anyone who is feeling sad, angry, desperate, or disoriented given the tectonic shifts that have rocked the US and EU in the past week. We have lost much, and many people and communities and companies are struggling in ways they never imagined just 8 days ago. Honor your emotions. AND don’t let them become your prevailing mood. I encourage you to notice that parts of Asia are now emerging from their own lockdowns, with positive news about having flattened the transmission curve. Trust that we WILL get to the other side of this. So, dance with your Sadness AND with Hope.