A Gratitude Exercise for Fathers
I’ve gotten into a good habit over the years which I’d like to share with my fellow fathers. This habit helps me deal with the fears, regrets, and sense of lack that can come with being a Distant Dad, and helps ground me in the truly amazing life that I live today.
Can we first agree that we all wish we had MORE…more love from our daughters, more time to spend with them, more money to help, more of just a normal life? But the truth is this game of self-punishment and wishing is about as self-sabotaging as any you may play. You can never have enough of these things and you know this in your heart. Dwelling upon what we lack in our lives serves only to keep us swirling around in self-pity and despair. It also works against you because ‘like attracts like’. Moving out of one state-of-mind and into a more positive one is solely and completely dependent on your decision to do so.
So, what can you do?
The habit I have adopted is very simple, but is surprisingly difficult to do sometimes, especially when I’m self-absorbed by anger, frustration, and hurt.
The trick is to start mentally listing all of the things related to my children I am grateful for, as quickly as I can. I begin with the easy concepts like health and opportunity, and then find my mind digging deeper into the little memories and gifts that are so easy to overlook. In the end, my attitude has changed for the better along with my belief about my situation.
To help you get started, I will list some of the thoughts I run through. I find that after 15-20 of these thoughts I begin to snap out of my personal funk and get back to remembering how incredibly lucky I am as a father. This gratitude practice works best for me when I can close my eyes, concentrate, and try to flip to a new idea every 2 seconds or so.
- I am grateful for the health of my children,
- I am grateful for the opportunities available to them,
- I am grateful for their love
- I am grateful for their playfulness
- I am grateful for their peace
- I am grateful for their safety
- I am grateful for their education
- I am grateful for their friends
- I am grateful for the abundance of food they enjoy
- I am grateful for the clothes they have to keep them warm
- I am grateful for their capacity to love
- I am grateful for their compassion
- I am grateful for their self-motivation
- I am grateful for…etc.
I hope this works as well for you as it does for me. Also, please share in the comments section any practices you have to remind yourself of how fortunate you are.