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Clean Windows and Gratitude: An Analogy

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Disclaimer: I am not a brain or brain rewiring expert. I am simply sharing my personal journey and my personal understanding as it makes sense to me.

Bird Poop: That Window WAS Clean

How often do you walk past a clean window and think, ‘Wow, that window is clean.”? The answer is probably hardly ever. We rarely even recognize this fact much less acknowledge it. If a bird comes along and poops on the window, however, our eyes are naturally drawn to that spot. That spot becomes our focus. And if it’s our own home or car window, we often include a little grumble with that focus.

Here's the Analogy

Don’t we do this with life a bit — or a LOT?–focus on the poop? I know I do. 

Things can be going along great, but if someone or something comes along and poops on our day, that’s what gets our attention. I guess we can call that human nature. But is it? Is it human nature, or is it habit? Is this a learned behavior? I’m not asking because I have the answer. I’m just wondering.

Recognizing the presence of something unwanted is natural. Of course. But the degree to which we acknowledge it or the time we give it our attention is up to us. 

Instead of trying to stop paying attention to those unwanted things, however (which just results in thinking of that “poop” even more), what if we work at increasing our practice of acknowledging the things we can be grateful for?

Focus on the clean windows in your life.

There is always something good to bring our attention to. Always. 

Gratitude Practice Challenge

Stop reading right now, (although PLEASE come back!) Go find a window you can see through clearly and admire it. Can’t find one? Clean one and then admire it. 

And for the next day (or two or three) pay attention to the clean windows you can find. Even if for just 1/10th of a second, feel appreciation for those windows.

Remember, however, not to add any “buts” into that appreciation. Recognize the clean window (or clean portion of the window), acknowledge it, appreciate it — and stop there.

Keep it Going

Move your eyes away from the sink full of dirty dishes and focus on the clean dishes in the cabinet. Don’t acknowledge the dirty dishes. Simply appreciate the clean ones.

Instead of grumbling about the chilly day, put another layer on and feel gratitude for the clothing that keeps you warm.

Instead of complaining about the high gas prices, feel gratitude for the automobile you are able to put gas into.

I had a prime opportunity to observe my nature when looking at two items in my cart when shopping at Sam’s recently. Sitting there, side-by-side, was a pack of 2 chuck roasts and a whole roasted chicken. I realized I was inwardly complaining about the high price sticker on the beef. Realizing what I was doing, I quickly turned my focus to the clean window and allowed myself to feel appreciation for the very low priced roasted chicken.


Shift your gaze.

Choices: They make an impact on our emotions and they impact our state of being.

While I am much more ‘comfortable‘ being grumpy sometimes, I’d much rather be joyful. 

*By ‘comfortable‘ I simply mean that it is sometimes an easier emotion to slide into. You know that snow covered hill full of kids and sleds? Eventually, the constant traffic results in grooves in that hill. The most used pathways become the smoothest and the slickest and the easiest to travel. They become the areas where sleds naturally slide into. This is the same with the connections in our brains. Those more established connections are the easiest to just slide into. My effort with brain rewiring is to change those pathways.

Train Our Brains

We get into habits of where we place our focus. I am more likely to complain about the bird poop than I am to appreciate a clean window.

But by consciously being aware of this better established path that I take, I am working on being more intentional with my focus and with my direction. I am working at intentionally seeking out what brings me lighter, more joyful feelings. I am increasing my focus on gratitude. And as time goes on, that path will become more and more established and the more natural path in my brain. 

I don’t feel I’ve been an overly grumpy, negative person all my life — but we establish habits — and we often join in with others’ as they continue their habits of bringing the lesser side of things into focus of conversation.  


Change takes time and we need to give ourselves grace for being the imperfect humans that we are. One grain of sand at a time. One drop of water at a time. By being intentional, we can make change. One day at a time. One moment at a time.

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