Last spring, I noticed that life around me was waking up from its winter slumber but I was not feeling the joyful enthusiasm that I often experience with the beauty of spring. I found that with all the turmoil that was going on in the country and the world I had developed a negative attitude rather than an attitude of gratitude.
Through the years I have heard that one way to improve one's attitude is to keep a gratitude journal. At first, I tried other ways but couldn't seem to get out of the muck. So, on June 7th, after not getting very far, I was finally motivated to start my journal. Keeping it simple, I wrote just one thing I was most grateful for.
The next morning, I woke up feeling lighthearted and full of life, ready to start the day. During the night I had a very pleasant dream of people who were kind and generous, and of a free-spirited little boy.
Little children, like the free-spirited child in my dream, totally trust that their needs will be taken care of and are often content with what they have. They appreciate the wonders of life and are so full of awe!
I think we can all be like little children if we train our minds and our hearts to see the beauty in life. M.J. Ryan in her book, Attitudes of Gratitude* says it well. She writes, "Gratitude is like a flashlight. If you go out in your yard at night and turn on a flashlight, you suddenly can see what's there. It was always there, but you couldn't see it in the dark."
I believe guilt about the past and worry about the future tends to darken our minds from really seeing and appreciating the present. It's also hard to be grateful when we criticize, complain and forget to recognize and appreciate what we have.
As Susan Jeffers wisely puts it, "When we focus on abundance, our life feels abundant; when we focus on lack, our life feels lacking. It is purely a matter of focusing. Life rarely turns out the way we plan it, so why not let go of what we can't control and enjoy the journey."
Melody Beattie writes, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity... Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
Gratitude is also contagious! Expressing gratitude to others, especially people we live with, can spark love and appreciation in their hearts. It doesn't take much, a smile or an encouraging word can brighten a person's day.
Since I have been keeping a gratitude journal, I tend to be more optimistic, joyful and content. I can see more of the beauty around me, and am more aware of what Carl Jung would call the synchronicities, or meaningful coincidences, in life. In general, it is as though the more grateful I am the easier life seems to be.
I can really relate to what Marelisa Fabrega says when she wrote, "Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you've been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present... Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress."
Gratitude helps us to feel like we have enough and we are enough. In this difficult time of social unrest perhaps we can take a break from the worry and fear that plaques our life, and resolve to love and be grateful especially on Thanksgiving, the day set aside for remembering how much we have to be grateful for.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I am deeply grateful for each and every one of you in my life! Enjoy the Holiday!
Love and Peace,
*Picture: Charles Schulz #Peanuts #Snoopy #Charlie Brown
*Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life by M.J. Ryan
Mary Mohs LVN, MA, RYT,