Gratitude – the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Does anyone else forget to practice gratitude sometimes? Why is it that we choose to focus on the things in our lives that we don’t like instead of focusing on the blessings in our lives? Why do we look at things outside of our control and spend our energy feverishly working to change them? Can we be grateful for everything? Why are we not quick to let others know how grateful we are for the friendships and gifts others are to us in our own lives?
Does anyone else forget to practice gratitude sometimes? This is something I mightily struggled with during my decade of stay at home parenting and still find myself falling into sometimes now that the house is quiet and the kids are at school. If I can discipline myself to put my phone down and make a list of all the things I have to be thankful for though my mood and outlook quickly shift. This is good practice.
Why is it that we choose to focus on the things in our lives that we don’t like instead of focusing on the blessings in our lives? My simple answer is that it’s easier and more comfortable. We are quick to overlook the things in our lives that make us happy unless we prioritize our gratitude practice. I’m not good at this and as this season of thanksgiving is upon us I choose to reflect and appreciate my blessings. We respond and react to things that we don’t agree with. Some more than others. Stillness and reflection have been lost but we can restore our gratitude practice. We must be mindfully intentional.
Why do we look at things outside of our control and spend our energy feverishly working to change them? It has been said that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it. As we age our programming becomes more cemented. When we practice reacting negatively to things out of our control we become more deeply engrained in that way of thinking and our actions follow. If we look at what we have, our blessings, we can choose to live happier, more fulfilled lives.
Can we be grateful for everything? This is a tough question for some of us to answer. Some of us have experienced extreme grief and loss and seeing the silver lining is a challenge during those times of intense struggle. What if, no matter the depth of despair, we chose to look at our circumstances as a blessing and searched out ways for our situation to bless others. Gratitude is contagious and sharing a grateful spirit might be the best gift we can give others and ourselves.
Why are we not quick to let others know how grateful we are for the friendships and gifts others are to us in our own lives? I don’t know. One of the books I’m reading right now is called Grit and in it the author is talking about culture. We feel too often that we need to be a part of the greater culture instead of influencing the culture we live in towards gratitude. What else do we have? Don’t the people in our lives make up our lives? We can control our own culture and if we focus on our interpersonal culture we can also impact the culture we live in. It’s difficult for me to understand how sharing my gratitude with others can prompt a surprised and even taken aback response from those I interact with. I’ll share my gratitude for our friendship and verbally communicate my appreciation for our relationship. You don’t need to reciprocate that same verbalization but please don’t act surprised when I do. Gratitude is great as an idea but let’s take it past that and practice it.
As I reflect today on all of the things that I’m grateful for and the blessings in my life I think of you. I appreciate the choice you’ve made to let me into your life. I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful for a warm bed to sleep in at night and food on my table. I could list everything I’m grateful for and the list is quite long and specific. I challenge you this week, as many of us prepare to join together, to look for things in others we can be grateful for and share our gratitude. Then, let’s take it past this week into December, January, February and beyond. We don’t always get to choose what happens but we always get to choose how we respond. Choose gratitude.