Each one of us have been dealt an iffy hand in this life. Often more than one. Sometimes we get a straight flush; others force us to cash in the chips. (I don’t play cards so I’m winging it here) In the game of life, it sucks to lose but when you stack up all your cards, you might be relieved to take back your own.
There will be times that being thankful is a stretch. When you’re in that lowest of low places, gratitude is a foreign word. It’s easy to be thankful for stuff that makes us happy, makes us feel good. Being grateful for more complicated things is a bit more challenging.
The struggle ends, when gratitude begins. Neale Donald Walsh
Before you think I have this gratitude thing nailed down, I don’t. There are days I rant with the best of them. There are nights when pity parties reign. My writing is often just as much a reminder and inspiration to me — as to anyone else. That being said, in a nanosecond I can still write a list of 10 things I’m grateful. They would probably have a lot in common with your own list – family, friends, health, a home come easily to mind. These days, there’s a world in turmoil beyond our small periphery.
There are reminders everywhere that so much of this world cannot take safety or stability for granted. In many places outside our safe bubbles, there are no nearby megastores packed with an overwhelming variety of food, clothing and things we don’t even really need. There’s no Uber; no HBO. It’s hard to be immersed in gratitude in the face of poverty, terrorism, war and loss of life, either of our loved one or of other people’s loved ones around the world. Yet, an attitude of gratitude is pretty global and somehow exists in the midst of the worst of human experiences.
What separates privilege from entitlement – is gratitude. Brene Brown
So, what does a Gratitude 2.0 look like? Maybe it’s being thankful of the ability to feel, to hope and love, especially in a world so skewed against those basic human characteristics. How about being thankful about being in a country, no matter how philosophically or politically divided, shares a basic sense of freedom, democracy and humanity? After the devastating events of 9/11, we were all grateful for the overwhelmingly unselfish acts of firemen, police who perform those acts quietly every day. Gratitude changes the way we look at the world – and everything in it, including ourselves.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
I had always taught my kids to write thank you notes. My premise, which often elicited eye rolls, was that if they were happy enough to keep the gift, they should be grateful enough to thank the person who gave it. If not, give it back. Easy. Though many times they were written under duress, those thank you notes were written and often continue to be.
If your gratitude list is nothing more than an obligatory grocery list, you might as well skip it and jot down bread, milk and eggs instead. It’s not another task to finish; it’s a place to start. And just in case you think I get straight ‘A’s in considering of all things in thankful terms, um, no. There are plenty of days I rage against the grain just like everyone else. I complain, whine and get ticked off about the daily riffs of life. It’s hard to be constantly aware, within the day’s minutiae, of being more thankful than irritable. Sometimes only in hindsight, can we frame things more clearly and be truly thankful.
Understand your worth. Value your life. Appreciate your blessings.
It’s been said that we can learn to be grateful no matter what. But, when that ‘what’ is as devastating as an earthquake, gratitude can seem out of reach. Sheryl Sandburg, after the death of her young husband, said, “Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck” Between losing my sweet man, all the cancer years before and the often crazy times since, looking past the suck can be a full time job. But, like you, I lived through enough to know I’m up to the job of leaning past the suck – and into the grateful.
So, I start off this new unknown new year, thankful for the highs and the lows, the blessings, the lessons, setbacks and comebacks but most of all for the love.
Always the love.