Years ago, I interviewed a gentleman who was explaining to me the theories behind Japanese psychology.
One of the things he said was that the Japanese practice gratitude. He explained that problems abound. The thing about a problem is it must be dealt with right then. For example, if you have a flat tire, that’s a problem, but you have to deal with it in that moment. In contrast, if there’s something you do that is successful or goes right, you don’t have to celebrate it in that moment.
The thing about life is that there are lots of problems and they consume our day. Problems often crowd out our time, leaving no chance for us to pause and acknowledge what went right, to give thanks, or actually to be grateful. As I understand it, Japanese psychology requires the practice of gratitude. Like scheduling an exercise class at the gym.
The practice of gratitude is a valuable tool for those with ADHD because it helps shift your attitude from negativity. That said, practicing anything is very challenging to those with ADHD because it is repetitive and boring. The second challenge is that, often, we don’t even realize what we might be grateful for, but it could be for the simplest of things. For example, I’m grateful for the taste of a juicy peach at breakfast, for the sun on my back, that I kept an appointment on time, or that I have loving children.
The point really is that, if we begin to practice gratitude, over time we begin to acknowledge and identify what goes right. If we do it on a regular basis and make it a usual practice, often what happens is that our attention shifts on the basis of our attitude. Changing what we pay attention to is one thing but changing the context and the attitude is something completely different.
As we approach Thanksgiving this year, let’s use the time to stop and be thankful. Too often, we get caught up with preparing Thanksgiving dinner, watching football games, and visiting family. What I encourage you to do this year is to consider making a list of things you’re grateful for and use it as a stepping-off point to practice giving thanks on a regular basis.
Let me share my own experience which I find quite interesting. I started the practice of gratitude about four years ago when I was going through a difficult personal situation. At first, I was just saying the words but didn’t really feel it. As time passed, I began to realize that actually I was grateful. My attitude shifted and my outlook on life improved. For many of those with ADHD, the exercise of practicing thankfulness can be very powerful.
I challenge you to sit down for a few minutes this Thanksgiving and truly practice gratitude. Use this as an opportunity to start a new habit, a new tradition, to change your mindset. You may be pleasantly surprised at your new outlook, too.