A dear friend and mindset coach I know, Renee Canali, gave me a very meaningful gift, namely a small book entitled 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik. Basically, it is a story about a guy who handwrote 365 thank you notes in one year and the wondrous things that happened in his life as a result. I've been writing more thank you notes, too, and it feels good. It got me thinking; how many of us are grateful for our stepfamily members?
And, how many of us get caught up in the whining and complaining about exes, our kids' other stepparent, and all of the challenges that stepfamily life can bring? I'm guilty as charged! Especially in the first years of my remarriage, I complained, got angry, and I'm sure I drove my family and friends crazy on many days. And, even now after I've been remarried for nearly eight years, I still have my moments.
In hindsight, I feel like I have wasted valuable energy and time simmering in a stew of negative feelings. I wish I had read books, including 365 Thank Yous and Jack Canfield's The Success Principles, years ago. In his book, Canfield writes, "When you are in a state of appreciation and gratitude, you are in a state of abundance. You are appreciating what you do have instead of focusing on and complaining about what you don't have."
So, turning back to remarriage and stepfamily life, for what is there to be grateful? As a start, how about:
- the opportunity to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses?
- the chance to learn more about love and its many forms?
- a second chance for true happiness after experiencing divorce or widowhood?
- learning how to appreciate others?
- developing healthy coping mechanisms?
- the ability to be a positive influence in a young person's life?
All of these experiences do not just happen overnight, rather there is a process for each. So, while we continue to progress and work on these things, we can express appreciation in our stepfamilies each day - for even the smallest things.
In The Success Principles, Canfield explains that there are three different kinds of appreciation: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. He describes the different ways "the brain takes in information, and everybody has a dominant type they prefer."
So, every day we can strive to appreciate the people in our family in the way that makes them feel good. We can hug one of our stepchildren who responds to touch. We can call one of our kids who is away at college to find out how they are doing, and we can write a note telling our spouse how much we appreciate what they do.
The things that we grumble about may still be there. But, if we follow John Kralik's example, we'll actually feel happier. Thank goodness for that!