Something that a mentor once said to me, years ago now, really stayed with me. He said:
“Isn’t it amazing how we humans find it so much easier to gather ‘evidence for suffering‘ than we do to ‘gather evidence for grace‘?”
At the time, he knew that I was early into what would be a fair number of years featuring the usual life milestone plus a few extra epically life-shifting cycles.
In hindsight, he was right, on both counts.
Back then, he invited me to make it a practice to gather more evidence for grace.
I did, though over the years since, I’ve fallen out of and then back into variations of that practice. Stir, shake, and repeat.
Sometimes inflowing grace itself was my reminder to shift my perception towards gratitude and graciousness.
At other times, being very much in ‘the low places where grace flows in‘ prompted me to reorient my seeking towards grace as relief in the face of what seemed overwhelming calamity and loss.
As I’ve since learned, the brain’s ‘negativity bias’ can make it much easier — too easy, often — to be submerged and embittered by ‘evidence for suffering’ and its sibling, evidence for All that’s Wrong With Everyone and Everything.
That, as it turns out, is a fairly toxic, literally sickening, and unfortunately infectious state to live in for very long, though many do.
But there are things that really do help to balance or shift that.
The Evidence We Gather
Collecting evidence for grace is similar to the practice of making gratitude lists, resurrecting the lost art of sending ‘thank you’ notes, or doing ‘reciprocal blessing’.
In my communication consulting years, we spoke of (and used) ‘Affirmative Inquiry‘, where you actually make a point of gathering evidence for what’s working, what’s already there to be appreciated, and in the process often discover overlooked gifts in your midst.
We looked for what was causing problems, too, of course. But the affirmative inquiry helped to balance that out — to help ensure that what was worthy didn’t get eviscerated by the sometimes mindless zeal for change.
Affirmative inquiry, gratitude, and collecting evidence for grace can be applied individually or with groups and organizations.
Individually, it turns out that there’s a scientific as well as a spiritual basis for it, too.
Research has shown that such affirmative gratitude practices actually do increase our sense of wellbeing, optimism, morale, confidence, and motivation.
The research also shows that cultivating gratitude — in its various forms — is also good for our health — heart health, fortified immune system, lower inflammation, better sleep.
And, as we might imagine and experience, it’s a honey-balm to our communication and relationships with others (though yes, there are some who will have difficulty receiving that gratitude … practice it anyway!).
A regular practice actually creates physical, visible, changes in our brain.
And most of us would experience those changes and benefits as a positive, welcome thing.
Just now, wherever we live — and particularly if we’re ‘connected’ to the 24/7 horror show known as ‘news’, or have a habit of chronically ‘talking negative‘ with like-minded cronies — choosing to adopt, or renew, a gratitude practice of some sort might be powerful and very timely ‘medicine’.
It’s the sort of thing that helps keep us sane amidst the insanity, that adds to motivation and helps keep us from overwhelm and burnout. That keeps us going, heartful, committed to sharing that and being that just now.
One approach is to set and devote to a sadhana or practice experiment. Some do 21 days, though there seems to be good reason to bump that to 40 days — or if you’re really motivated to experience those benefits, 60 days.
I’m definitely going to be renewing this practice for a 40-day sadhana period, and will identify a couple of elements of this practice and then dive in and gather the evidence for grace.
How about you? Why not?
After all, there are known benefits to gain (or strengthen), and very little to lose (except the costs to health, well-being, motivation, and relationships of the chronic Nattering Nabob of Negativity practice).
And the gratitude presence is contagious. We’ve all experienced how it feels to be on the receiving end of a gracious person or heart-felt affirmation or ‘thank you’.
If the word ‘gratitude’ seems over-sold these days, consider ‘appreciation‘ … whom and what we appreciate.
Start small — writing 3 (or more) things you appreciate or feel grateful for at the start or end of each day.
Or add a few more gratitude or appreciation practice elements to add focus and energy to your experience.
Dive in, and see and feel what you experience.
To benefit more from personalized mentoring to ‘lift off’ and strengthen your progress, schedule some coaching or mentoring.
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Otherwise, set your Solo Practice time, decide what you’ll do (that list of 3 things, or maybe more?), and go.
(If you’d like a few ideas on that, send along an email.)
Big Love & Grace-Gratitude Gathering,
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