Thank you all for your incredible birthday wishes! They overwhelmed me in the best way and I am so grateful for them.
I’ve been thinking about gratitude a lot these days. Every once in a while I get a flicker of clarity about how much I take for granted. I have so much and yet I tend to focus on what I don’t have. Didn’t make enough money, wasn’t smart enough, could have been more compassionate. Sound familiar?
I am learning to be more conscious around what I complain about in my life, if these things are rational and justified, or just habit. We all need a heartfelt venting once in a while, a nasty rant, a whine, a holler. This is all a healthy, normal part of being human. It’s the habit part that I find dangerous. It’s the lack of awareness, that can skew our perspective of what a gift our life really is.
The Buddhist perspective would probably say that we need to learn to accept things as they are, that there is no “good” or “bad.” There is just what is.
But we tend to celebrate what looks good to us – (getting the job, making the dough, winning the race) and tend to label other things as “bad” (the breakup, the layoff, the terrible rash). The irony is that we can often look back and say, “Oh, thank God that creepy boy broke up with me. I would never have met you,” or “Now it all makes sense. That layoff allowed me the space to see that I wasn’t actually happy in that career,” or even, “Wow, those terrible blisters were my body hollering at me to change my life and slow down. I’m finally listening.” (Y’all remember the blisters right?)
I suppose I’m just saying that when we see something is “bad” it’s simply one perspective on the thing. Often we have no idea what we’re talking about.
My friend Jen told me about a “gratitude lunch” that she recently attended. It was hosted by an amazing woman named Moe who has been through some serious health challenges these days. She invited every person who has made her life easier in some way to her home. (Even the woman who does her dry cleaning!) According to Jen, the irony was that everyone in that room was filled with gratitude for Moe and all said in some way or another that she had actually saved their lives.
So how do we get in touch with our gratitude? I know that I feel grateful for simply breathing after several days of a cold. I felt grateful for simply walking after 6 months of healing from a broken leg. I feel grateful when Matt comes home after a long bicycle trip safe and sound after I’ve been worrying to bits. Pain gives us access to gratitude. But it quickly fades away and we forget.
A teacher of mine once said, “If you’re bored, you’re not paying attention.” And I think it applies to gratitude as well. If we’re not in touch with what we’re grateful for, maybe we’re not paying attention.
Other than saying that I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject lately myself and your post really hit home with me, I just want to say “great photo” and “what a fabulous hat!”
With regards to gratitude, I guess trying is already half the journey.
I do get these bouts of gratitude myself. Sometimes, I sense so much disinterested kindness and warmth around me that I just can’t take it. I guess there is a reason why very few of us reach sainthood- or the equivalent in any other religion.
That is not to say that we should not keep striving to do better, but doing your bit is already a big step forward.
I am with Nicole, the picture is beautiful and i to have been thinking about gratitude.
I have a friend on Death Row – whenever i feel like complaining about how hard my life is or how it hasnt worked out the way i wanted it to i think of him (he is innocent). I have a friend who is yung, pregnant, unmarried and catholic who is trying to do a degree and make a life for her future, when i think about how ‘hard’ my life is i think about how different it could have been.
It is the little things though that we should be greatful for, you are right, it isnt always the job or the race that we need to win, but the every day things that count. Someone remembering to put the toilet seat down! The stranger saying thank you for your kindness in the street, our health, everything!
Sorry, i am ranting!
Well said, Andrea! These days…I’m thankful to be alive.
Some times I look across the street from my home at “ground zero” and I still can’t believe that I’m here. I am so grateful for my life. Your words touch me deeply.
What else to say and not to sound dull? Your posts are always a step ahead of me. You have the ability to point out exactly what I need to hear .. THANKS A LOT 🙂
Wow ! Andrea Y E S !
Graditude… I spent most of the summer struggling through a mysterious and debilitating bout of ill health. I’m through the otherside and I’m beginning to be ridiculously grateful for my life which seemed so wrong before now feels very blessed.
andrea that was beautifully spoken…and i quite agree. that is often the “mantra” or whatever term you use that i tell myself when i’m losing ‘focus’ on my life…when i’m feeling like things aren’t going right, etc. “pay attention!”…or “look around you!” these demands for myself put things into perspective and i can see that things aren’t always what they seem…that maybe i needed the darkness to find my way to the light again.
Thank you for this post and thank you for being you.
today i am so very grateful for friends like you and moe…
I agree with one of the other people, who in her comment, said this was just what she needed to hear today. I too was reminded how important it is to be grateful. Just today, I recieved some wonderful news that was a long time in coming, and I am sooo….grateful!!! But what I really need to do is to slow down and remember to appreciate the “everyday” goodness that is all around me. Thanks so much for your beautiful and timely words. You are a treasure.
You are beautiful, Andrea, inside and out. Thank you for your lovely words that ring so true for me. I hope your birthday was wonderful!
Thank you for this post. It made me cry.
good God woman , i offically adore you!!
that post put a lump in my throat. thank you , those words are right up my alley!
beautiful as always. 🙂
brilliant, yes. surprised? no.
but, good god, woman, you look so foxy in that hat!
Thank you yet again for being a leader to this amazing group of women (and men) who come to get inspiration, laughter, and above all honesty from you and this lovely website of yours. Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. We are very lucky to experience the light you share.
A friend of mine a few years ago gave me a SARK play journal and a gratitude journal. I found the SARK journal a lot of fun and easy to open. The gratitude journal was much more challenging. I found that I was even judging what my entries were going to be. At that point I knew a much larger message was meant for me at that point.
I started out small with three enteries a day. Some days were harder than others. Some entries were as simple as a person smiling in the elevator at work. My gratitude journal has opened my eyes to what’s taking place around me. I am so thankful I started using it. It’s helped me recognize the wonderful things all around me.
Thank you for reminding me of how blessed my life is. It is often easy to forget that.
I so, so, SO needed to hear this. You’re spot-on, Andrea. ;o)
I think we all experience an incredible range of emotions…but I also think that we shouldn’t worry about whether we’re Grateful enough, or Love enough, or Give enough of ourselves to others. I think we all do that already without realizing it…
Happy Belated Boitday!