There are people I’ve met over the course of the many years that I’ve lived, who seem to have a natural grace for gratitude; appreciative for each day, viewing their cup half full, not half empty. I am not one of those people. I have to work on gratitude.
Many years ago, I read that in order to develop a grateful heart, it was helpful to start with a gratitude journal, and write down five things at the end of each day that one might be grateful for. So, I decided why not and bought a nice journal and pen and put them on my nightstand next to my bed. I remember getting to about three things and having to work at recalling if there was anything else. A teacher I worked with at the time told me to just let the simple things float into my mind and to not try so hard to figure it out. I kept looking for monumental things to write down, like a fantastic sunset or finishing a novel I had put off reading or receiving a present from someone dear to me. No wonder my journal entries were empty at first.
After several weeks of failed attempts to find five things, I started to write down simple things that made me happy: a hot cup of tea, a good night’s sleep, my family, my health, a drink of water, the ability to go for long walks. Many days featured the same entry. And every once in a while, there was something special: a card in the mail from a longtime friend, a day off from work, a bouquet of flowers from my husband, days on a warm beach in the middle of winter.
After a few years, and many journals later, I noticed my mind began to automatically appreciate things and I stopped writing in a journal altogether because every night before I closed my eyes, I easily visualized five or more things. I thought I had mastered gratitude.
I read the definition of gratitude; described as the quality of being thankful; a readiness to show appreciation for and kindness to someone. I reread the “readiness to show appreciation for and kindness to someone” part a couple more times and realized I hadn’t grasped the full meaning of gratitude at all. That thankfulness is not something to be learned and mastered in a journal, or in my thoughts, but an ongoing practice of love and care and warmth and openness. Or, as Albert Einstein once said: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.
Gratitude. Grateful for everything and everyone in my life… including you.
How did you find solace this week?
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