It’s finally here and starting this week I get to start training and working with couples, children, and families in therapy! It’ll be my first time doing real therapy on my own. Although there’s some nerves associated with, there’s mostly a lot of excitement in me. What better way to head into therapy than this great blog post on The Daily Love posted this past week that was called “Service with Gratitude.” It was a post by a medical doctor describing the Sanskrit word, seva, meaning service. It talks about going out into the world and in your profession, whatever it is (therapist, electrician, doctor, entrepreneur, handyman, etc.), and seeing it as an act of service. That means that when you go to your job, meet people whoever it is: your clients, coworkers, friend, family, etc. enter with a sense of service (i.e. what can you offer, give). It’s about what you can give, not what you can get. My favorite quote from this post was a description of the type of feel or energy you should come with when meeting new people, particularly your clients in this context:
I am thankful to you for finding me worthy of service to you, and for providing the means of my livelihood.
I mean really…at least in relation to my career, it’s not easy telling someone your life story and pouring out your emotions. So what a privilege it is for people to trust you enough with their story and feel like it is a safe enough place for them to share their experience. This is true for wherever you are in your life and whatever you do. Anytime someone trusts you with their friendship, love, or business, they are putting their own life’s “business” in your hands.
It’s so easy for us to take our lives for granted. We get so caught up in the busyness of our job that we lose perspective of what it actually means. However, through expressing that little quote above either directly or indirectly through your actions is a reminder to stay humbled by whatever opportunity you’re sitting in. Perhaps you’re still struggling with the economy and don’t have a job, but you have a family or friend that is emotionally supporting you. Find that piece of gratitude and hang on to that. Don’t get lost in the monotony of your privilege.
The truth is that I will probably lose that sense of gratitude at times after the initial adrenaline rush dies down. However, as I learned from reading that article (click here) I posted a week ago on happiness, I’m reminded to continue pursuing a greater good and that is what my program is allowing me to do. For me, that greater good is working on research at a macro-level that aims at helping people understand their disease of addiction better and doing clinical work that affords me the opportunity to work on a micro-level helping people understand themselves better so they can connect with the outside in the way that they have dreamed of. What greater good are you pursuing? Or what is your vision for your future? Use that vision as your greater good.
There’s also some interesting research going on in this field of positivity and gratitude that is discussed in that Daily Love article. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a researcher at University of North Carolina, is one of the people who studies positivity and its health benefits. She was actually a part of the research group in that happiness article I discussed earlier. In another study of hers (see citation below), she brought in couples to see the impact of expressed gratitude on their relationship. It was found that this sense of expressed gratitude predicted positive change in couples 6 months after they were initially brought into the lab. Although this research may seem common sensical, it is yet another reminder to stay in close contact with gratitude and use it in your best and worst moments.
I want to hear from you now: What are you grateful for today? How can you be of service? Can you focus on what you can give instead of what you can get?
Algoe, S. B., Fredrickson, B. L., & Gable, S. L. (2013, June 3). The Social Functions of the Emotion of Gratitude via Expression. Emotion. Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/a0032701
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