Someone once said to me what a grateful person I was. I wasn’t sure how to respond to it, really, I guess because I’ve never thought of myself as a “grateful person.” Sometimes I just don’t feel very grateful. Some nights I go to my journal to write ten things I’m grateful for from that day and it’s noisy and I’m completely exhausted and I can’t think and my mind draws a blank. But then I sit with the blank page open and my pen in my hand and something always comes. Always. And then another thing pops into my head. …Bracken wrapped his arms around me in a big hug… Our family listened to the frogs croaking outside… Someone told me they loved me right when I needed to hear it most… And before you know it, oftentimes I’ve written more than ten things, even when I wasn’t feeling particularly grateful that day.
I don’t think certain people are just born being grateful or that it’s a magical trait that some special people possess, I believe being grateful is simply a choice and then a habit. Being grateful is something to practice, and something to choose and then repeat over and over. Gratitude is something that is within our power to cultivate within ourselves. A joyful life comes from living in gratitude. And we can’t feel true joy without also feeling grateful, I’m certain of that. Said in another way: Yes, I do believe gratitude is the key to happiness.
We can all choose to find things to be grateful for in our daily lives, no matter how small. We can all choose to make it a daily habit, even when it stretches us. Especially when it stretches us. Some days or periods of time may be particularly challenging for us to feel grateful, but there are always things to be grateful for. Always. Gratitude is not simply reserved for those times when it’s smooth sailing, it’s something to practice every single day. We can’t wait until all the pieces of our lives are lined up just so, we need to be grateful today. Right now.
“If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” ~Frank A. Clark
Being grateful is what makes it possible for our lives to improve because the more grateful we are the better our lives get, simply because we are looking at our lives through the lens of gratitude. Gratitude reminds me to look at all the blessings in my life and not just the things I want to change. It reminds me to see the beauty in what I’ve already created in my life, even when what I want to create has changed. Am I a grateful person? I’m not sure about that (maybe I could feel I earn the title with many more years of practice.) But do I practice being grateful? Yes, every day. Even when it’s hard.
Who are the most grateful people you know? I guarantee you that they aren’t the people who have had the easiest go of things, or the most money or were born into the ideal circumstances. In fact, some of the most grateful people I know are the people who have had incredibly difficult lives. But they went through challenges and they came out the other side with an abundance of gratitude and it made their lives richer and their hearts more open. They are the people who have a positive outlook, who move gracefully through the hardships, and seem to attract good things into their lives again and again. These people are on to something because they’ve learned what’s truly important in life, and being grateful is right up there.
“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson