Fulfilled: Better By Monday

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.” – Melodie Beattie

The practice of gratitude is externally focused with deep internal rewards. It requires something outside of ourselves to be thankful for, a gesture, act of service, and the sharing of knowledge or perspective. We can be grateful for a sunset, but we may point that gratitude towards the maker of the sunset or the person who took us to see it.

“Gratitude is by definition antiheroic. It does not depend on courage or strength or talent. It is based on our incompleteness.” – Piero Ferrucci

In his book, The Power of Kindness, Ferrucci continues to explain that gratitude is recognition that we cannot manage life alone. We can stop over-functioning and let others help us. We have permission to take off the cape and keep our feet on the ground because we were never supposed to be a superhero.

Gratitude is affirming. It is the absence of walls which keep us afraid and isolated. It is the melting of chilly my-way-ness which stops people from learning the power of we. It cracks the rigid barrier that anger requires to stay overheated. It allows our softer self to emerge.

Once our gentleness enters the story – our narrative about our whole self can change. We can use the gentility towards what is broken within us and stop fighting against others because we are afraid they will break more of our fragile things.

Ferrucci believed in gratitude as an important change agent for his clients. He said, “For me, it is the single most certain criterion for knowing how well a person is. It shows that her channels of communication are open, that she neither overestimates herself (as she knows she needs others) not underestimates herself (as she knows she deserves what she receives).”

One Thing to Do: Remember every good thing which has come to you.

When we think about the things/people, we are grateful for we begin to realize that everything we enjoy has come to us through someone else.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Soften: Better By Monday

“We already possess these, but they can be ripened: precision, gentleness, and the ability to let go.”   – Pema Chodron

It may not be that we are bad people because there is something bad inside of us. We aren’t always good. Therefore, we aren’t always bad either. It may be that we are human beings having experiences that we don’t always know what to do with, what the Buddha referred to as – a kind of innocent misunderstanding that we as humans share which makes us seem foolish, ignorant, and wrong (sometimes).

Pema Chodron promises us in her book, The Wisdom of No Escape, that we have a way to see how we limit ourselves and make corrections. That understanding comes through “clarity, precision, gentleness, goodheartedness, and kindness.”

The wholeness we seek is found in being more open to ourselves “less shut off and shut down” and able to look at who we are with truth and trust. Truth means telling yourself what is real for you and then trust that you can handle what you hear yourself say. To seek solutions for why you do something “bad” is only knowing part of yourself. Pema suggested, “Our neurosis and our wisdom are made out of the same material. If you throw out your neurosis, you throw out your wisdom.”

Take a look at any recent choice you have made and examine it from more than one angle. If you don’t know why you did or said something (good or bad) – assess what purpose you may have had or what purpose it may have served.

There is an old technique using a four-sided pillow, an Objectivity Pillow. The first side is labeled me, one turn to the right and label that side other(s), another turn to the right and label that side community, then on the last side write world.

When you want to process through any confusion, get the pillow and start with the “Me” side. Then ask this question, How does this affect me? Once you write down or think about the answer, move the pillow to the right one turn to see the word “Other” and ask, How has this affected the other person(s)?  Keep doing this with each side.

Get to know yourself better by thinking through why you act the way you do in one particular incident. It may be a reoccurring problem with family, friends or a partner. Use softness as you think through what your motivation for your behavior is. What does the action get you? How does the new awareness help you love yourself more?

One Thing To Do: Make an Objectivity Pillow and take a question through all four sides. Then repeat the process with any other questions you want to process.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, ED.S, LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Respond: Better By Monday

“No one becomes more understanding or forgiving because he or she reads somewhere that this is a good way to be.  Abstract concepts, no matter how laudable, have little effect on behavior.”  -McKay & Fanning, Self-Esteem.

Practice makes purpose a reality. Talking about how to be more understanding is a start but practicing understanding is more valuable. The beautiful thing about compassion, love in action, is that when you begin to behave with compassion towards others you develop a compassionate mind in the process.

One Thing to Do: Practice having a Compassionate Response.

McKay and Fanning wrote about the eight step process to respond compassionately in their book, Self-Esteem.  They suggest that a compassionate response contains three components: understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. Remember that forgiving someone who has been abusive is often best done with professional help and when you are safe.

The three themes show up in a series of eight statements (see below) which we are invited to commit to memory by the authors. This quick reference to moving with compassion towards others and self can be adjusted to fit statements that you think reflect your style while staying true to the theme of the segment.  Also, repeat a set of questions (to yourself) until you can create the desired response.

The Compassionate Response

Three Questions to Create Understanding:

  1. What need was (he, she, I) trying to meet with that behavior?
  2. What belief or awareness influenced the behavior?
  3. What pain, hurt, or other feelings influenced the behavior?

Three Statements to Create Acceptance:

  1. I wish ______ hadn’t happened, but it was merely an attempt to meet (his, her, my) needs.
  2. I accept (him, her, myself) without judgment or feeling of wrongness for that attempt.
  3. No matter how unfortunate (his, her, my) decision, I accept the person who did it as someone who is, like all of us, trying to survive.

Two Statements to create Forgiveness:

  1. It’s over; I can let go of it.
  2. Nothing is owed for this mistake.


Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.

Better By Monday: Do you Lift or Lean?

Better By MondayMonday isn’t always given the respect it deserves. Disagreeable mumbling by more than one not-ready-for-work sleeper is heard. The sunlight sneaking between the blinds into the bedroom window doesn’t bring the delight of a new day it brings the burden of another day to endure.

The sun doesn’t seem to warm the morning air with hope but lights it up with anticipatory anxiety. Problems are waiting for us. Stress of different shapes and sizes line the halls of the schools our children attend, the streets we drive down, the rows of offices in our buildings and we don’t have solutions.

Even if old problems are left in the past, new problems seem to always be just ahead. We don’t always benefit from thinking about getting ahead because sometimes we can only get through. A sea of daily stress with endless days of rowing can feel unrewarding and unmanageable. But are all the moments in a day made up of problems, pain, stress and frustration?

What if we could give each other a moment away from feeling our problems? I know you’ve heard of Random Acts of Kindness (which work well) but have you considered making those into small acts of compassion/ kindness you can do throughout the day? By looking for the opportunity to show compassion in small ways during the day you give yourself a break from feeling your own stress and co-create a stress relieving moment with others.

SACK someone’s stress by showing grace, interest, empathy and/or patience in a moment of need and you get a day filled with more meaningful moments. Look for the moments where you can show a little compassion. Monday through Friday will feel lighter because you are lifting instead of leaning away.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault Ed.S., LPC.

Better By Monday is a blog about one thing you can do, over the weekend, to feel a little better by Monday.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.