“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Gilbert Chesterton
Do you have a gratitude practice? Do you take the time to feel grateful each day? How does it make you feel when you feel grateful?
I’m a lucky person. If I made a list of all the things for which I’m thankful, it would be a long list. I’ve always had most of what I needed, but I haven’t always recognized how much I should be grateful.
As a younger person, I took so much for granted. I always assumed my parents would be there to help me. I always assumed I could find another job if I wanted to leave the one I had. I always assumed that my boss would appreciate my “helpful” perspective. I always assumed the man I was dating would appreciate my bold and honest comments.
But with time, I came to realize I could not take anything for granted. Time passes. People and circumstances change, and it’s hard to be thankful when relationships, jobs, health, and security come crashing down. And yet….
Feeling Gratitude Lifts Our Energy
Focusing at some point in each day on gratitude lifts our energy and spirits. That one thought can make a difference so I try to start each day with a moment of gratitude before I even get out of bed. Each day when I see something that pleases me—the dog curling up next to me, my husband giving my neck a little massage as he walks by, a package arriving sooner than I expected, the song of a bird that is especially sweet—I say a thank you. It’s the little things that make a difference.
Gratitude Can Be A Blessing When Negative Things Happen
It’s much harder, of course, to be thankful for the unpleasant things in life, but they often have hidden blessings. When my father passed away many years ago, it was shocking. Except for his emphysema, he was fairly healthy for 81. One day a blood vessel broke in his lungs and he was dead in ten minutes. I wasn’t prepared for this. I had thought there would be some warning and an opportunity to say good-bye.
After recovering from my shock, I was grateful he didn’t have to suffer. It was a blessing after all, and regardless of how he passed, I would have had to adjust to his being gone. I hope that when I pass, it will also be quickly. I don’t want my loved ones to see me suffer any more than I want to suffer.
Negative Experiences May Have Hidden Gifts
In the last few years, I’ve broken an elbow and an ankle. Both were very painful and unpleasant experiences, and none of my family could come here to care for me when I broke my elbow, so I went to a rehab facility. It was not a pleasant experience. However, people in my spiritual community were there often. When I returned home, a woman whom I did not know helped me shop for groceries and became one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
In the second instance, I discovered how very deep my fiancé’s love for me was because he became my primary caretaker. He cooked, cleaned, and did anything else I needed so that I could stay at home and recover. I had never felt so secure knowing that he would do the loving thing—no matter what it was. I was deeply grateful.
Have Gratitude For Pleasant Surprises
One of the things for which I am always grateful is my closeness to nature because the animals that come to my yard delight and surprise me. I can never be sure of what they will do next. For example, I was sitting at my computer the other day, bored as I cleaned off deleted messages, and I glanced out of the window. Just outside the window were a few flowers and a statue of St. Francis. On St. Francis’ head sat a squirrel eating a mushroom. I couldn’t help laughing. I guess the squirrel wanted some company for dinner.
When we make gratitude a daily practice in our lives, it can shift what is negative so that it becomes more bearable or reveals lessons we need to learn. Melody Beattie says, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
May you start each day with the blessing of gratitude.
© 2914 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5