Here’s something you could try doing that my writing in community friend Martha shared with me this week:
An assignment that literally changed my students’ lives. Extra credit (optional, and adds points to overall score). Make a list of 50 things you are grateful for in your life. Must use following format:
I am grateful for _________________ because __________________________.
One pt. for each line. Must complete 50. 49 won’t do. Must fill BOTH blanks for each line. You will get 50 points added to your grade.
Example: I am grateful for my grandma, because she makes me breakfast every morning.
I could tell you so many stories about this assignment! Not everyone chooses to do it. And sadly, not everyone is able to think of 50. If not being able to complete the assignment is perceived by the student as a problem, I see that as a good thing. I love coaching them to see things in their life to be grateful for. I can tell when a student has stretched and really starts to “get it.”
At the time I was in Phoenix, AZ, and I often got this response (one of my favorites) included in the list.
I’m grateful for my shoes, because without them I couldn’t walk anywhere when the sidewalk is so hot.
The last question of the assignment: Now that you’ve completed your list, look inside yourself. How do you feel? Has anything shifted?
Once in a while I would get a “no.” But of the 70% who actually answered the last question, almost everyone said that they experienced a shift. Some said they felt happier or more positive, while others said they realized they had so many good things in their lives that they hadn’t actually realized.
We human beings have a natural tendency to look for the bad in any situation we encounter. This is a protective mechanism as we need to be able to deal with any threats we may come across. In times past this might have been crucial in keeping us alive but the level of threat that we encounter in modern day life is much less than what our ancestors experienced long ago. Can we change our outlook on life and could this be of benefit to other people?
I came across the concept of good finding as an exercise I completed when I was part of Akimbo’s altMBA last year. Each day look out for good things that people in your life are doing and let them know that you have noticed them. Be on the lookout as you will need to find at least three things a day that viewers can choose from. Do it for the next 30 days to establish the habit and then see what happens to the world around you and your view of it.
How does it make you feel? How does it make the recipient feel? What other changes do you notice?
Give it a go, who knows, things may never be the same again.
To do palliative care and hospice well your heart does need to be in it. People can easily tell if you are not really there. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as someone who won’t sit down, or who constantly checks the time on their watch. Do you have somewhere more important to be at the moment, than in my room? Something more important that needs to be done than listening to me?
If someone’s heart isn’t really in it people can tell right away. The lack of attention that is paid to simple things. So we do want people to be engaged to actually care for people. It does need to be done professionally, with kindness and respect. People need to have firm boundaries that they do not cross. It’s about protecting yourself and also the person that you are working with. You can be friendly but cannot be their friend. You can be caring but it must be in a professional manner. We are guests in their lives, and we do not want to disrupt pre-existing relationships.
We are involved possibly in the final chapter of someone’s book of life. It is not about us, but about them. They are the stars of their own show, of their own movie, of their own stories. We are only extras, or play a tiny bit part. We may have only a few lines to say, and we will try to say them well. The direction of the story needs to be guided by the person going through it all. We would not be in the same room as them if they were not sick, if they did not need the care that we can provide. We must never forget that, that they are not here because of us, but that we are all here because of them. The patient needs to be at the centre of everything that we do, not their family members or friends but the actual person themselves.