Giving Thanks Daily: A New Practice

I wanted to share this comment with you because it touched me deeply. 

"My harp happiness is that Ms. Anne Sullivan works so hard to keep harpists connected and encouraged during these very difficult times, including the Facebook posts and updates and Harp Mastery tips and guides. I don't know how to tell you how much of a difference that makes to many, whether we post back or not, except to say Thank You and God Bless You and keep you safe. For me, in the heat or end of a busy day of work it takes me to my happy place - my harp(s)."

- Facebook comment from Nancy Anne Baugher

I am so grateful to be able to help harpists in this way, to continue the legacy that my teachers passed down to me. Thank you, Nancy, for that lovely note and for being the generous harpist and person you are.

Nancy’s comment also prodded me to think about gratitude in a slightly different way. 

My family has a Thanksgiving tradition - and I imagine yours might too - of taking a moment while we are at the table to share our gratitude for the people in our lives and for things that have happened in the last year. 

I know from personal experience that we harpists are by nature a generous bunch of folks and I know that despite the difficulties of this year, you will find things for which you are thankful. But in the spirit of harp happiness, I’d like to ask you to consider being thankful for someone you might not have put on your list - you!

When practicing is hard, when progress is slow, when we feel like we will never achieve our goals, it’s hard to dispel negative thoughts and emotions. The words “I can’t,” “I should,” and “I will never” predominate. I invite you to take a moment to reflect on what you can do, what you are doing now and what you have already accomplished. Let’s start by shining the light of reason on some common negative ideas.

  • Your fingers may have fumbled or missed their mark. But how many correct notes did they play? 
  • You may have forgotten a few measures in your piece. So your memorization isn’t perfect. So?
  • You may be moving at what feels like a snail’s pace to you. But you’re still moving, aren’t you? 

 Okay, so maybe things aren’t quite as bad as you thought.

The fact is that you put a lot of time and effort into your harp playing, and I think it’s important to honor your commitment. The more we burden ourselves with guilt or blame for our mistakes or our slow progress, the greater the distance between ourselves and our harp happiness. 

Imagine how different your practice would feel if you “caught” yourself doing something right instead of doing something wrong. Imagine how much easier your playing would feel if you celebrated your struggle and not just criticized your results. What if you were grateful for every ounce of energy you pour into your harp playing, rather than discounting your progress as “not good enough”?

Even better - what if you were grateful for what you can do and what you are accomplishing every day? 

I have a suggestion for you to start adding some gratitude-inspired harp happiness to your daily practice. When you are through your practice session, before you get up and walk away from the harp, quickly jot down in your practice journal one thing that you did well or achieved in that session. I admit that some days this may be more difficult than others. But I urge you to identify one thing, even if it’s simply that you actually practiced. 

After two weeks, read through your entries. Resist the temptation to discount any of your notes as being silly or not important enough. Instead, take a deep breath and as you let it out, recognize what you accomplished. It might be that you finished a piece or a part of one. Maybe you practiced every day. Maybe you tried something new. Maybe you did all those things and more. Maybe you just enjoyed playing your harp. Just take a moment and sit with the realization that while other people went about their daily lives, you dedicated part of your life to the harp. 

That’s something to be thankful for.


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