I have never been one for gratitude. Now, don’t take me wrong. I am a firm believer in being thankful and showing my gratitude towards others. Every morning, I tell God thank you for this day and what my life includes. Also, I am prone to show gratitude in little acts of love. But the whole telling and being told to be #grateful rubs me the wrong way.
A few weeks ago, in my therapy session, my therapist and I were discussing mindsets and images. Particularly this space and what I am trying to portray here. I mentioned that someone told me that I was always negative and lately everything that I write about leans towards that. My therapist, being who she is, smiled this half grin, cocked her head, and said well, yeah a little bit.
The remaining hour continues with what changes I can implement and what those would look like. I am a good little student. I get right to work. Knowing I have some major mind work to do. Yet, with the realization, I won’t know what needs to be tinkered with until I hit that wall. Keep the possibilities open, accept what comes, and try not to analyze, analyze, analyze.
My first thought was how can I bring awareness of the good to my everyday routine. Using the “gratefulness” momentum in changing the negative thoughts to positive more and more. I messaged my friend and asked if she wanted to do a 30 day challenge with me. With no hesitation, she said yes. Now what is it? This is why I love her. She didn’t even know what I was asking of her and she said yes.
30 days of gratitude.
Through text messages, DMs, Marco Polo’s, phone calls, video chats, emails, whatever floats our boats, we are going to tell each other what we are grateful/thankful for and what good thing that happened to us.
I thought, hell, I am turning corny and this will be easy peasy.
The first days were filled with gratefulness for family, friends, each other, my kids, yada yada yada. She shared about sunny California weather, while I was knee deep in Nebraska snow. Pointing out appreciation for a safe and warm home, good car, uneventful drives to work, and a job with flexibility. But then a day came, where I had a sick kid, traveling co-parent, and no more PTO. Even though, I REALLY REALLY REALLY didn’t want to say this or even acknowledge this, my gratefulness for that day was I was grateful for my boys’ stepmother. That she loves my boys and is willing to be active and present in their lives.
No one said gratefulness was easy or uncomplicated.
Some days I had to look intently at my day. Finding what was good. Voicing that good out loud. Even when the day was just ordinary. Normal. Acknowledging that as pretty dang wonderful. Opening my eyes and heart to what really is an overall good life that just has some sucking parts to it.
Her and I are in our final days of our challenge and I feel some sadness to it. I loved connecting with her every day, in whatever form of technology that was. Our friendship grew deeper and stronger. I liked having a person to hold me accountable. Volleying thoughts and viewpoints around with. I believe we are going to explore another challenge. We both need this in our life.
But here is what I really learned from having gratitude in my everyday life.
I became more mindful. More present. More aware.
Rather than fast forwarding to tomorrow, next week, next year, I stayed put in the present. I viewed moments differently. I absorbed more smiles, more splashes in the tub, more slower seconds. Growing present in my days rippled into other aspects of my life.
I put my phone down, off to the side, untouched, at night.
I turned towards my boys, lingering in my moments with them.
I focused on not allowing a bad morning impact the rest of my day.
I implemented new yoga techniques when I felt anger, anxiety, and annoyances pop up.
I consciously made an effort to change my thoughts. Whether they are simple or complicated, lifelong, and ingrained.
I gave myself more grace and love.
I connected more with God.
And all of this in only a few weeks.
Think of how much more will happen as I continue.
Still, I know that I can be grateful and find life hard. I can grieve my divorce while be thankful for what I have gone through and free of the marriage. I don’t have to like every part of the situation or person, yet I can see good in some of it. I will complain about the weather but be glad it isn’t worse. I understand that it would always be worse. However, the hard I do experience is still hard. Hard does not take away from the gratefulness I feel.
I know the importance of releasing the hurt, the sadness, the pain, the hard, even the negative. Covering all of those up with a facade of #blessed #thankful #grateful, only worsens the hard and diminishes while resenting the good.
As my life continues, I see that not one thing can be perfect (not including you in this, God!) and most things are intertwined.
Gratefulness can come from heartache.
Freedom from loss.
Strength from pain.
New from death.
All are part of life.
how I appreciate, acknowledge, and act in them and with them
defining my life.