12 November 2014

Lessons in Gratitude

Gratitude is not something I have practiced intentionally much in my life. Sure I grew up saying thank you and still do, but that whole saying of "living life with an attitude of gratitude"...well not so much.

I have a particular meditation book I use every day, either in the morning or as I'm getting into bed. Each month has a particular theme and all the meditations are based off that theme. The theme in August was on gratitude. One day early in August the prompt for the day was "learn to say thanks".

The author began to deeply share about her life. She had just bought a new house, but the term fixer-upper didn't do this wreck any justice. It was a mess both inside and out. She felt embarrassed for her children to call this piece of junk home and frustrated she had no time, let alone money to fix it up.

One night after wrangling her young kids into bed, she lay down on the living room floor and began to cry and complain out loud to God: how she hated her house, hated nothing could be fixed, etc. Everywhere she turned she felt bad at what she saw. It felt impossible to find anything to be grateful for. At some point, she came across a book that spoke of the power of praise and gratitude. She writes:
"Every time I felt bad, I thanked God for how I felt. Every time I noticed how awful this house looked, I thanked God for the house exactly as it was. I thanked God for the current state of my finances. I thanked God for the lack of skills to repair and remodel the house. I deliberately forced gratitude for every area of my life--those area's that really bothered me, those things I couldn't do anything about. Instead of complaining and crying, I just kept saying and chanting, "Thank you God for everything in my life, just as it is."
--Melody Beattie

A remarkable thing began to happen. First, Melody began to keep her house more neat and tidy. Then she began to learn how to do repairs and started remodeling her home. Thanking God, being grateful for all the messy, unpleasant stuff in her life just as it was began to change her outlook and soften her heart.

Even though I read this months ago, it has struck a chord with me. I guess I never really thanked God regularly or was ever grateful for the messes in my own life, being grateful for exactly where God has me in life. Because even in that mess or unpleasant situation God is still present. When we can accept and find moments of gratitude even when its difficult, it really can completely change how you view the world. #mindblown.

Learning and applying this in my own life has really been a great tool in the ol' tool box of self-care. Now, on either my way to work or coming home, I intentionally take time to look at my day, what's currently going on in life. And I take time to thank God for it all...to be grateful.  Even when its messy/sucks/hurts. Some days its easy peasy. Other days, I am faking it till I make it.

But I am starting to see how such a little action is changing me from the inside out...how I look at both the joys and sorrows; the good and the bad. Even though its not always easy, there is a great sense of freedom for me to be able to say, "Thank you God for my life exactly as it is right now".

People often tend to reflect more about thankfulness and gratitude around the holidays. 
For me it has become of my daily ritual, and for that I am thankful.grateful.blessed.

2 comments:

  1. This is great! Along the same lines, some weeks ago in confession a priest recommended thanking God for that day's crosses. I had never really heard it put that way before, but thought it was a beautiful way to sidestep falling into complaining when something doesn't go your way -- which I tend to do. Thanks for this needed reminder!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kristi! I am so amazed how it has been changing my perspective:)

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