The Practice of Gratitude
For the last year or so I have spent a lot of time thinking about the way I live my day to day life, my attitude and actions and how they affect my life. I watch other people and pay attention to the traits I admire and the ones that, more and more often as I get older, irritate me and make me pull away from the negativity that they spread.
I admire people that are serene, I admire people that are upbeat and positive thinking. I admire people that, even though they may be actively working hard to change their circumstances because they are not great, are still happy with their overall life.
What is it that really serene, unflappable, upbeat people have that the rest of us are missing?
It’s almost always an attitude of gratitude. It is the ability to look at your life, whatever hot mess it is, and realize that this too shall pass, and that there is always someone you know that has bigger problems, terminal illness, loss of a child or spouse, the kind of problems that you can’t dig yourself out of and to acknowledge every day all the things you have to be thankful for.
Now I am not Mary Poppins, by any stretch of the imagination, I have a ferocious sense of humor and it is often sarcastic and off color. I do not tend to look for the good in people or in situations that I do not like. I don’t think the world is a rosy place and I don’t think it is getting any better any time soon. I have almost no filter between my brain and my mouth and don’t care too much if I offend people. I have no problem letting someone see my anger but would be horrified if I let anyone see my grief. That is my personality type and you need to know that, to realize that a quest for serenity and peace is a hard one for me.
However, I am on this quest, so I decided that I can practice gratitude. Every morning for several months I have made myself take time to say ,”today I am thankful for….” and list at least three things. At first it was our health, our children’s health, food, housing that sort of thing. And I am,
don’t get me wrong, but then I began to stretch that muscle a little. Can I be thankful for things that I have that are not what I wished them to be.
Are we all not guilty of missing out on the life we have because we are always comparing it to the one we had planned to have? I know I am.
My home for example, I don’t live in a big hundred year old farmhouse with high ceilings, 18” baseboards and wrap around porches like I was meant to . I am a farmhouse girl trapped in a doublewide girl’s body. And I resent it…. EVERYDAY. BUT.. Several years ago my husband and I decided to get out from under the weight of years of too much debt and too little money and all the stress that kind of life puts on you. We decided to quit doing what everyone else does and live a little differently. We live in a small doublewide in an area I never wanted to live in.
But we do not have a mortgage. We will not be making a huge house payment 10 years past the age we wanted to retire. If something should happen to one of us ,the other will not be saddled with a large mortgage and only on income. On top of those things my husband, my favorite handyman, has completely remodeled this house. He has worked his magic in textured walls, custom tile,
and all kinds of really unique little details that make people that visit us for the first time ohhh and ahhhh.
Yes it is too small for all the things I would like to do and own, yes the layout is silly and obviously designed by a drunk psycho and yes, I would love to have at least six cabinets in my kitchen . However, it is bigger than the house my mother raised seven children in, it has central heat and air, and everywhere I look there is something that my husband designed and built because he knew I would love it.
Yes I think, if I try real hard, I can remind myself daily that I have a lot to be thankful for. And that is the art of practicing gratitude……. and the key to a happier life.