“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing. I write about generosity because I battle selfishness. I write about joy because I know sorrow. I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption. I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.”
~ Kristin Armstrong
Grateful: The World in a Bright Light
Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.
There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.
When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness. Madyson Taylor, Daily Om
But how do we embrace gratitude in light of countless challenges, worries and concerns? Although I do not doubt that there are any number of ways to do so, I offer only a couple of ideas for you to consider. The first step on the path towards gratitude is the most difficult one; yet, once you’ve committed to it, embracing it becomes easier. Understand that at a basic level, these are not novel ideas, but I offer my take on them. Moreover, they are well-worth repeating–and remembering.
The first suggestion, deceptively simple, requires you to interrupt the negative thoughts coursing through your mind, and to slow down, body and mind. It does not matter where you are, but, for example, if you are a nature lover, it may behoove you to step out in nature. The idea is to place yourself in an environment that is most conducive to nudging you out of your head and into the current moment.
Once you are fully present, in an unhurried and curious way, take a look around you. What do you see that moves you from your head space into your heart space? Is it the sight of a deer darting behind that tree, a picture of a loved one, your favorite chair placed purposefully beside a perfectly sunlit window in which you read, your favorite cookbook reminding you of the exquisite meal that you enjoyed with family last Sunday, or a treasured briefcase passed down to you by your deeply loved father? These things touch your heart, not on a superficial level, but deep down where your most meaningful memories lay.
It is important to remember how much joy that they bring and how much gratitude you hold for them. You cannot feel the warmth of gratitude, while at the same time wallowing in negative thoughts and feelings. These experiences, or things, that cause you to forget your troubles are the source of gratitude.
My second suggestion asks you to choose a time of day, ideally, the first thing in the morning, or at night, when you are winding down. In preparation for this ritual, select a blank book that you love. (You may already have one lying around the house or you might schedule a special shopping trip to buy one that suits you. It needn’t be expensive or fancy, just one that you feel drawn to.) Gather your supplies: your favorite pen and a cup of hot coffee, tea, or perhaps your beverage of choice is a glass of wine or ice-cold lemonade, and find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. All that matters is that you are comfortable and undisturbed.
Open the book to a blank page and date it. Think about the day before or behind you. It is easy to identify those “big,” easily recognizable moments that occur in your day or life. In this case, what you are searching for are those small, inauspicious moments that, at the time, went unnoticed. You can find them because they hold a special quality about them that cause you to stop, if only for a few seconds, and feel at peace with the world around you. It could be the taste of your favorite food at the very moment when you first bite into it, the way the sun light creates endless rainbows on your wall when it hits the prism hanging in your window, the anticipation of lunch with a good friend, the sound of your wind chimes as a gentle breeze caresses them, the open parking spot nearest the door of the grocery store, or finding the earring that you thought long-lost. These moments are just as significant and notable as the “big” ones.
Now, take your notebook and pen and begin listing 3-5 things or moments for which you are grateful. Don’t force it, let them softly settle in your consciousness. Feel the surge of warmth and contentment that overcomes your being. There, you’ve given birth to your “Gratitude Journal.” If you make it a daily ritual, you give yourself the permission to focus on the things for which you are grateful. The resulting gratitude serves to dull the negative affects of the challenging times in your life. Of course, doing so, is not a magic bullet that will cause these times to disappear, but it will surely make them seem less overwhelming and diminish their impact.
I hope that these ideas help you when it seems that there is little about which to feel grateful. On a personal note, I feel grateful for each of you reading this post. Thank you.
This is a post that I wrote two years ago. Today, I was preparing to write a Thanksgiving post, when I happened upon it. After reading it through, I realized that it perfectly expressed my present feelings. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I offer it to you as my way of showing gratitude for you, whether your country celebrates the holiday or not. Gratitude is not a once a year day, it is meant to be practiced every day. So, with this post, I say “thank you’ for being such a blessing to me. Thank you for joining me on my journey. Have a blessed day.
As I rush to and fro in preparation for this week’s holiday feast, I stop to consider the meaning of giving thanks, that is, the meaning of gratitude. According to Wikipedia, “Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.” For most of us, it is quite easy to give thanks for the good things that happen in our lives. No, the difficulty arises when we consider our thoughts and feelings about those things that we consider “bad,” for instance, illness, a lost job, or the death of a child, spouse or close friend.Granted, these are no zippity do dah moments, but they too have undoubtedly left us with some underlying “benefit” that may or may not have manifested itself as of yet.
For years, I have dealt with the scourge of fibromyalgia– constant pain, depression, insomnia and more. I resigned from my 14 year job as a State’s defense attorney because my fibro symptoms adversely affected my work. It was impossible to concentrate on the case at hand while in excruciating, unrelenting pain. There were too many days when I made it to work, only to lay writhing on my office floor. So for me, fibromyalgia is my nemesis, that one thing that I find it difficult to give thanks for. Yet, in most of clarity, I can see that the benefits are there.
Not too long after I went on disability, my mother had a stroke. She has always been in perfect health, so it was a shock. After she left the hospital, the options were a nursing home or our house. There was no question that she would stay with me and my husband. The thing is that had I still been working as an attorney, it would have been impossible for me to welcome my Mom into our home. I travelled constantly and was always trying cases in one Texas city or another. I was out-of-town more often than not. My disability became a benefit, because it allowed me to be there for my mother when she needed me. I am grateful for that.
We can’t pick those things that we are grateful for. When we begin giving thanks, it is for everything that has gotten you to where you are today. As Oprah Winfrey writes, “Gratitude for the whole journey of my life–not just everything that had gone right, but the things that had not.” I have to remind myself of this every single day.
I wish you and your loveds a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children. ~ Jessica Lange
As the mother of three grown children and 6 3/4 g’children, I am well familiar with the job of motherhood. I say job, because in spite of being a licensed attorney for over 23 years, being a mother is the far harder of the two roles. In the best of circumstance, a child has an intact family with a mother and father. Nevertheless, in most cases, it is the mother who takes the primary role of raising the child. Children do not come with an instruction manual and even the best of mothers make mistakes. Yet, so long as a mother imbues her child with unconditional love, kindness, strength of character, respect for themselves and for others, honesty and most importantly, curiosity, the child will prosper.
For all of you mothers and g’mothers out there, and in some cases, fathers, toiling to raise amazing human beings, I commend you for your efforts and wish you peace, happiness, good health and boundless love. I also wish you a day of relaxation, pampering and peace, because you certainly deserve it and more. Thank you for undertaking a role that, thanks to your love and guidance, will hopefully serve to produce an adult well-equipped to face and contribute to our society.