Have you ever heard of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore? Unity...Read More
I know it sounds crazy, but when I first thought about gratitude, I thought about the first car I owned, Kiki. Yes, I named my car. I know it’s silly, but I did it anyway because I remembered when I didn’t have access to reliable or consistent transportation. I didn’t live on an active bus route, but I still had doctor’s appointments, pediatric appointments, visits to the grocery store – you get the picture.
I lived off the kindness of friends, scheduled appointments around the ill-timed bus route, and waited for cabs in the rain. I was always thankful for a ride but when I got Kiki, I was grateful. Kiki wasn’t a Lexus or a Porsche, but when I started my car, I would smile. I remember what it was like to be without and I intentionally gave back to the universe by offering my kindness (meaning rides?) to others when they need it.
I encourage my children to show gratitude for the house we live in. It’s not our dream house, but we are safe. We live in an amazing school district that has afforded them a wealth of opportunities. Instead of recognizing each imperfection, as we are wont to do, we can recognize each reason that we should give thanks for the dwelling we are blessed with. We can transform that thankfulness to gratitude, by taking care of the house and keeping it in good condition for the next residents who it will keep safe.
I think that’s probably the most difficult part of demonstrating gratitude. In the difficult moments, in the face of a difficult person, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for gratitude. It may be too much to ask you to be grateful when someone is pushing your buttons, when you’re in the midst of an oppressive situation, or just when things just feel dark. It might be all you can do not to scream. I would venture to say that’s ok. In that moment, it may be too much. But there’s always another moment. A moment where your blood isn’t about to boil, where you can take a breath and reflect:
What did I learn about myself?
How can I use this situation to help others?
Which of my redeeming qualities shone through in the darkness?
You can, of course, devise your own questions that resonate with you. A wise person once said “Practice when it’s easy so it’s easy when it’s hard.” The same is true for gratitude. We can easily be grateful when things are going well, but it’s so much more difficult when things are not going well. Difficult to the point that we don’t even consider gratitude as an option.
Ever used a gratitude journal? It’s trendy, but not without its usefulness. I was gifted with one once. Instead of making a list of things I was grateful for or making a list of reasons why I should be grateful for one positive thing, each day I chose one thing I was NOT grateful for and I made a list of reasons why I should be grateful for them. By doing that, I saw positive aspects of people, places, and circumstances that I could never have seen hidden under a veil of my own dismay. It was as though I were seeing them with new eyes.
We know that we should be the veritable presence of love – I challenge you to also be the veritable presence of gratitude and see how similar they feel. Observe how it encourages others to consider new perspectives. The world somehow seems different when it’s full of gratitude – it’s brighter, more hopeful. Who would argue that they wouldn’t want to live in a brighter, more hopeful world.
So go ahead, see what gratitude can achieve. See the world in a whole new light. Allow the Christ light within to shine brighter than before and witness how gratitude can change you and the world around you.