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What counts?

I just noticed something. I can’t say how long it’s been this way, but I can say that when I was young, shampoo came with instructions (who really needed instruction?) that always said, “Lather, rinse, repeat.” It doesn’t say that anymore.

Shampoo still comes with instructions (again, do we really need instructions?) but now it just says, “Lather, rinse,” or some form thereof, and then it goes on to recommend that you condition your hair with their particular brand of conditioner. Of course it does.

Still, that “lather, rinse, repeat” refrain echoes. Rinse and repeat.

Now, I’m not trying to sell you shampoo. Or conditioner. But I am echoing that rinse-and-repeat refrain but with counting your blessings. It’s really one of the simplest mindfulness practices that there is. Take note of a blessing, take a breath, and repeat it. To yourself. You don’t have to go around doing this out loud. But I do find it grounding especially when I feel myself spiraling out of control into self-recrimination, or frustration, or anger, or fear.

Focus on one good thing – that is true; one good thing that is true. Don’t lie to yourself. It’s not hard. Like so: When I can’t find anything that fits to wear to that special occasion or meeting, at least I have the money to buy something. Breathe. Repeat.

When I’m stuck in traffic trying to get somewhere, at least I have gas in the tank. Breathe. Repeat. (Alternate version: When someone cuts me off in traffic, at least no one was hurt. Breathe. Repeat.)

When I don’t like my colleague's (or friend's or neighbor’s) political talk, at least I can walk away from a distressing conversation to my own spot. Breathe. Repeat.

When I don’t like the weather, at least I have a roof over my head. Breathe. Repeat.

This can go on and on to the most minute level, even so far as when every breath I take hurts, at least I’m breathing.

And, maybe there is or maybe there isn’t an immediate, or even long-term, solution to whatever it is that’s distressing you. That’s not the point. The point is the moment you are in; it's the upsetting, turbulent, unsettling, unhappy moment you are in. If, in that very moment, you can find a blessing that you truly, genuinely recognize as one that is upon you, focus there. Focus. Be thankful. Take a breath. Think of it again.

One step at a time, baby. One step at a time.


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