I knew a woman who did all the gratitude practices – the journals and songs and dinnertime rituals with the kids and more – who seemed basically miserable to me. I spent a good bit of time mulling over that paradox: How can a person so intentional in her acknowledgement of gratitude still seem to feel so rotten?
I’ll never know for certain but I wondered if there weren’t shoulds dragging behind each of her gratitude statements like a limp blankie.
I should be grateful for my health.
I should be grateful for my home.
I should be grateful for my family, clean water, and fresh food.
For those of us who live fully within the often-invisible privilege of today’s developed world, it’s easy to take for granted things like health, home, and nourishing food and water.
Until, of course, something like a diagnosis, an underwater house, a Ferguson water crisis, knocks us right out of our complacent expectations.
We don’t have to wait for a white-knuckled doctor’s visit to infuse our gratitude with deeper meaning, though. We can start now by starting to notice when we really feel grateful.
Know that feeling? That awe-filled, nose-to-toes experience of gratitude that makes your heart hurt just the tiniest bit because of how whatever is in front of you is spurring it to grow a little more?
When we capture those moments of gratitude, we exercise our muscles for more fully engaging in our own lives and the dozens of daily bits of wonder that we encounter and can all too easily pass right by; we kick-off a feedback loop in which taking even the briefest pause to notice the feeling of big, deep gratitude opens us to experiencing more – more of what’s in front of us, more of the beauty in the mundane, more of the joy that is always available to us, even in the midst of hardship.
Wolf whistle at a bit of landscape that makes you do a double-take.
Offer up a “How can this get any better?!” when a particularly exciting business opportunity comes knocking.
Use “Thank you; more please!” when a conversation leaves your cheeks hurting from smiling or your brain whirling from stimulation.
Write those moments in your gratitude journals and share those in your dinner time rituals.
Dig deep. Feel in. Look alive. There’s cause for gratitude all around you.
I’m grateful to be a part of a community that loves thinking about this kind of stuff – our biggest, baddest, most joyful lives. We also love thinking about lots of other stuff – in fact, the range of topics that pop up in our weekly community gathering, Chomp & Chat, never ceases to delight me. Join our community (and get other cool stuff in my weekly newsletter); you’re the only part that’s missing.