Opportunities for gratitude are everywhere. Sometimes I truly am grateful for the tears or for giving myself the time to hide away when I’m feeling sad, lost, confused, or afraid. It’s not all about sunshine and rainbows. And it’s definitely not about jumping over the hard stuff! I do not want gratitude to be seen as a spiritual bypass – something that we go to even when we’re not feeling that way. I don’t want anyone to squash themselves or to settle for less because they “know they should be grateful for what they have.”
Gratitude doesn’t say, “Stop longing. Stop desiring. Stop listening to your heart that is crying out for deeper connection or more meaning!” It should not stop you from leaving the job that is sucking the life out of you just because you “should be grateful” that you even have a job… especially a good-paying job with benefits. Please don’t weaponize gratitude in a way that keeps you stuck.
Allow it to be a practice that fills you up and expands your view of life. Let it change your experience of life as you regularly begin to notice what IS here that you do so deeply appreciate. Let it pour out of you as you openly express to others what you appreciate about them, even when it feels awkward at first because who does that!?
When we allow our attention to shift from its very natural, very human position of looking for what’s wrong or what could go wrong, to intentionally finding things to be grateful for, looking for what is “right” or “good,” we can literally change our brains. We can also improve our physical and mental health. We may find more joy, more flow, and less misery and angst.
When I tell you that I’ve been able to find gratitude even in my darkest hours, even when I’ve been afraid my son would die, even when I’ve been awake all night with worry or anger after a particularly contentious interaction, I’m telling you the truth. The key is I’ve also allowed myself to feel the fear, worry, anger, exhaustion. It’s not an either-or kind of life we live. We can feel it all. And somehow the gratitude helps us to see the bigger picture of life beyond the narrow focus that despair and crisis can create.
Gratitude is a life-changer - a genuine one. Not a life hack! I invite you to bring it into your daily life, not just on special holidays when the world tells you you should. I encourage you to extend your gratitude beyond the obvious (though it’s a great place to begin with those people who are closest to you, who you love and adore, who lift you up)… extend your gratitude to the people who’ve done the work to ensure that you’re even reading this message – perhaps the eye doctor who prescribed your glasses, the person who installed your internet, those who design and create the technology that allows us to be connected across the miles. Bring in gratitude for the farmers who planted the seeds and the workers who harvested the produce for the next meal you enjoy. Give thanks for the beauty of the birds and their music that fills the air. Find gratitude for the miracle that the sun continues to rise each day. Soak in the miracle of fresh air and fresh water and reflect on those who stand up and do the work to ensure that we continue to have these things.
Take a moment right now. What are you grateful for in this moment? Who do you want to share that with? Who would you like to send a quick note or text of appreciation? I invite you to join me in creating a wave of gratitude that continues beyond this week and that spreads far and wide. Pay attention to how that changes your life and the lives of those around you.
I am so grateful for you here in this community. Thank you for being you, and thank you for being here!
Here are a couple of meditations to support you in this practice: Invitation to Gratitude, Deeply Grateful, and Bathing in Gratitude Please enjoy and fill up with these offerings.