I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude over the last several months. It is too easy in the daily hustle to forget to stop and take stock. I know I am personally guilty of it far too often. Whenever we lose something, it is easy to recognize how we took it for granted. Losing something is normally an extremely effective catalyst to remind us how grateful we WERE for that thing.
However, making a daily habit of taking time to express gratitude will make the abundance in life clear. It will also welcome more abundance into your life. Whatever “cycle” we get into; life, the universe, God, whatever you believe in has a way of perpetuating that cycle. We have to get things spinning, but once they are in motion, it is much easier to continue the momentum. Whether you are in a positive or negative cycle, you can easily get caught up in it without even recognizing it.
So, take just a minute and think about whether you are in a positive or negative spin right now in your life. If you are not on the side you want, decide right now to make the change. Commit, right now, to doing whatever you can to change up the negative track you are on.
Start by thinking about one thing you are grateful for.
When you are beginning this process, your list of gratitudes is likely to include the “big things.” Maybe yours is family. Maybe it is friends. Maybe it is health. Maybe it is your career. Maybe it is your spouse. There are some freebies for you in case you were at a loss. If you are having a hard time, maybe you are in a deeper negative track than you thought. Then broaden your scope. Maybe you need to start with the fact that today you are grateful to be alive. If, for some reason, even that is hard… Remember things can (and probably will) get even worse. No matter how bad your life seems right now—it can always be worse. I don’t believe you should compare to others so I shy away from statements like “someone else has it worse.” Undoubtedly, someone, somewhere definitely has it worse off than you. Who cares? You are not that other person. You are you. Your life, yours, can get worse. No matter how difficult things may appear, you must be grateful for what you have right now—even if that is just the fact you are alive.
I suggest writing your gratitude down. If you choose some other form of expression, so be it. I know many people make it part of their daily meditation or prayer. While I believe that is a great practice, and suggest even if you are writing down what you are grateful for; express it through prayer or meditation as well. There is something about the connection that happens when you write something down. You have committed it to some form of record—regardless of how temporary or permanent that record is. When you say something, it is out there and gone. When it is written you have it, even temporarily, longer than the spoken words last. So, write it down. I encourage you to keep an ongoing list. One, because it will help you keep from repeating the same things all the time, but also because you can look back at it in a week, a month, a year, and remember what you are grateful for. Maybe some of the items will spark the specific memory which prompted you to be grateful for the specific item.
Your list can be as simple or elaborate as you want (or need). More than likely it will be a mix of both. Sometimes there may be an explanation of gratitude involving many things and sometimes it may be as simple as a word like “sunshine.” Let the gratitude flow however it comes from inside you. If it is a paragraph, great. If it is one word, awesome. If it is several words in a list, so be it. Whatever comes from your head is how you should list it.
What about the bad/hard days?
If nothing else comes across from my ramblings, I hope it is this. The hard days, the days when you think life is shitty and you want to wallow in self-pity, shame or doubt… Those are the days you absolutely should list at least one thing. No matter how difficult it may seem. No matter how overwhelming life may feel. No matter how terrible circumstances appear. When you want to be grateful the least is when you need it the most. So on those awful days, stop. Think of one thing. It only takes one. “I’m thankful for…” it’s not raining, or it is raining, or I had a warm shower, or cold cereal, or my blue eyes, or tears, or even pain (because it helps us to be grateful when we are not in pain). It may seem impossible, but I promise if you take a second or two, it will make a difference in your day. It may be a miniscule difference in the big picture, and it doesn’t mean that things can’t be terrible sometimes. It means, no matter how rough the road may feel, there is still something to be grateful about in your life. There is always SOMETHING to be grateful for. Find it. Grasp it. Latch on to it if you have to and don’t let go.
The more you express your gratitude the more you will recognize the smaller things in life that we truly take for granted. The smell of a fresh rain. Having food to eat—even if it isn’t your favorite food every day. The feel of grass between your toes. Hope. Joy. Feet. Soap. These things we take for granted every single day. Whether they are things that make life better, easier, or even just possible there are so many things we overlook.
Ever had a long day of walking or standing on your feet? Your legs ache. Your feet ache. You back may even ache. Thank God that you can feel those things. Thank God you know how it feels to feel good most of the time. Thank God you are able to stand or walk and you are not confined to a crutches, a wheelchair, or a bed. If you are limited in the ability to stand or walk, thank God you have whatever mobility you do have. Thank God you have people to help you with the things you cannot do for yourself. Thank God you are alive.
I am grateful to have a place to express my thoughts and feelings. Whether anyone actually reads them or agrees is irrelevant to me. I am grateful to have an outlet, to have a voice, to have the thoughts and the ability to express them. Today I am grateful!