Blessings and Burdens

The “Gratitude Bathroom” decorated by Sisters In Spirit volunteers. I’m always thankful for a beautiful bathroom!

Over 250 women gathered last Saturday for the Sisters in Spirit Conference held in Norman, Oklahoma. This was my seventh year speaking to this lively and energized group. I brought several tools from “Gratitude Bootcamp” to the break out session of about 50 wonder women; adding stories and extra exercises to “pump up” their awareness of blessings in their life. As a group we acknowledged that our current culture is dominated by negativity and consumerism. Recent headlines grab our attention and communication is often strained by defensiveness and reactivity.Television and internet commercials (via emails and FaceBook) demand notice about what is lacking in our life . . . that one fancy something that will make us happy.  It was counter-cultural for us to gather and speak openly about the quieter reality of blessings that are present and readily available in our lives.

We took a cue from the 2003 “Blessings and Burdens” study (Emmons and McCullough) to interrupt the negativity cycle. In this study college students were placed into two groups. One group wrote 5 blessings that had occurred during the week. The other group wrote down 5 things that annoyed them (burdens).

Our group took a moment to intentionally reflect on the good as each participant identified 3 blessings that had already happened earlier in the day. Each woman shared one blessing from their morning and here is a sampling for you to reflect on:

  • My husband prepared coffee for me early in the morning so I could be here on time.
  • Hearing my two daughters over the monitor as they woke up and started playing barbies.
  • Getting a hug from my grandchild.
  • Being greeted at the door with a hug.
  • Being welcomed with a “good morning” and a smile when I walked in to the conference.
  • Being invited to sit at a table.
  • Renewed friendship.
  • Inspiration.
  • Ideas to grow my faith.
  • Knowing that my favorite person loves me.

We all agreed that being in the “blessings group” took more thought, but generated more positive thoughts and energy to our group.

What do you notice from the blessings? How did you feel reading them? Can you reflect on  a blessing from this week that you would add to the list?

I used the blessings to do a drawing for a Gratitude Journal, made by Kimberly Montgomery of Fifty Jewels. A fellow blogger introduced me to this talented woman who has been studying happiness and creating day-timers and journals to support people pursuing a positive path in life.

Many thanks to the Sisters In Spirit and all who participated in the January’s Gratitude Bootcamp blog posts- I hope it sparked new ideas to incorporate into your life.