When In Doubt…

Written by Amy on April 15th, 2015

See the Good

This morning my mom pointed ferociously out the window and demanded, shaking her finger emphatically, “Look at that!”

It was a beautiful early spring day, just sun & trees outside, I didn’t see anything that called for such ferocity.  Normally, I might ask, “Where?” or “What is it?”

I was a moment of doubt, when it wasn’t clear what to do or say…

You see, my Mom has Alzheimer’s, so sometimes she sees things that most of us don’t.  It’s best not to “feed” an upsetting delusion, and since she already seemed agitated, I didn’t want to naively ask “What are you seeing?” (which could lead further into an upsetting delusion).

So I leaned into mindfulness practice and … paused before answering. Other days this week, her theme has been a cheerful “Look out there! Look how beautiful it is.”  So I thought, what the heck, and said enthusiastically, “Wow!  Look out there! It is so beautiful!!”

“Yes! You see it.” She said with obvious pleasure, and her tone of voice relaxed. “It is beautiful.”

Turns out she was ferociously excited about the beauty of the sunlight on the trees!

Well. Chalk this one up to another Gratitude Lesson courtesy of my mom:

  • When in Doubt, Pause
  • See the Good
  • Keep it Simple
  • Passionately enjoy beauty

When in doubt, pause. Refrain from following negative associations.  See the Good.

If I’d gone into my head with a “normal” response of “What are you seeing?” we would have surely plummeted into a delusion, or she would have been agitated by my stupidity of not seeing what’s right in front of me!

It was truly simple: trees & sunlight.  Yes, such pleasure in enjoying, passionately enjoying, the beauty that’s right here.

Do these principles of mindfulness “work” all the time?  While Alzheimer’s is an unpredictable disease, so is life.  It may not “work” to turn around confusion, agitation, or pain with just one application, but in my experience, the regular practice of mindful attention to this moment is, truly, the only way to be here.  And here is the only place where we’re alive, and being alive, sooner or later, undeniably leads to Gratitude.

What’s your experience with “Seeing the good?”  Without advocating for a blind Pollyanna view, truly, what right here right now, is good?

Scroll down below and let me know your thoughts!

While mindfulness is simple, it’s not always easy.  Especially if your nervous system has been jangled by chronic stress or traumatic events.  When that’s the case, you may need a little help to ease the diverted the stream of attention back into it’s natural flow.  I’d love to help you do that.  Feel free to contact me or check out my individual work. Why not free yourself from whatever makes it hard to just be here? You can click here to read more, then we can have a conversation to see if this is a good fit for your needs.

12 Comments so far ↓

  1. lynn says:

    Right here, right now, reading this loving story is good.

  2. Anne Rubin says:

    In my community there is someone whom I encounter here and there, who is often gruff and hard to approach.

    My initial reaction tends toward maintaining a polite distance, in order to avoid any lengthy interaction.

    Today I thought about that person, and realized that there was something to appreciate in their blunt attitude. I never feel as though I am on shifting ground with them, the way I have when meeting certain other people who act very friendly, but not out of genuine interest, but more because they have honed their networking skills, and are sizing you up. Thank you grumpy person for being straightforward, instead of slippery and confusing. From now on I will appreciate you, and see you in a different light. May you feel less isolated….

  3. Jeffrey Gyokudo Roberts says:

    thanks for a beautiful reminder. It is so good to find sweet kernels in my inbox.
    all the best

  4. Ann Brown says:

    Lovely post Amy, thankyou. I recently completed a Mindfulness course, and it was a beautiful eye opener for me about the simple pleasures that can be gained from noticing what is here right now.
    It’s something that I’m gently noticing more and more, and I see that gratitude naturally flows there too.
    (yet it also takes regular practice and attention, and I’m cultivating that!)

  5. Amy says:

    Thanks Ann, so true, and your words “gently noticing” are a great reminder of the attitude most helpful in mindfulness.
    Yay for regular practice and cultivation!

  6. Amy says:

    And good to hear you, that’s like a whole corncob of sweet kernals :-)

  7. Amy says:

    This made me smile. I wonder how this shift in perspective may play out in future interactions with this person. No matter what happens, your post reminds me that when I see and open up my perspective, I feel better no matter what comes of it for the “other” person (and of course there’s more room for unexpected openings in the relationship too). Thanks for sharing :-)

  8. Amy says:

    As my mom would say “Ho ho ho!!”

  9. Amy, this is a beautiful story. I love the 4 steps, beginning with pausing. In my latest book, ‘Spirited Ageing’, I include a section on dementia, for which I was inspired by James Oliver’s book ‘Contented Dementia’. He recommends a similar approach, which includes always agreeing with the person who has Alzheimer’s, & not asking questions. It’s wonderful to see how Mindfulness supported your own inner wisdom.

  10. Amy says:

    Thanks for citing James Oliver’s book – I’ll check it out. Agreeing has definitely has been the way to go. It can be a little sore on my ego to agree so much, but that’s where my own letting go gets a good work out :-)

  11. Andy says:

    Amy, a well told story. Fierceness in perceiving beauty, what a great image.

    The four points make sense. I just have to remember as I peep through my bunker of hyper-vigilance. The good is there. The choice to look is mine. Always.

    Thank you.

  12. Amy says:

    You’re welcome! And if y’all haven’t guessed, part of the benefit of writing these posts is completely selfish – it helps me gain perspective and practice leaning into practices that I know serve me & others well. Andy, I am thoroughly enjoying your & everyone’s reflections here!

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