We’re about to ascend upon Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. I’m grateful for a quiet dinner with Larry and a restful weekend. I’ve been looking forward to this coming weekend since rest is usually ad hoc, and I am often trying to locate windows of opportunity to relax.
There’s a lot written on the power of gratitude. It’s the cornerstone of positive psychology and Western mindfulness practices. My life has changed significantly by incorporating a daily gratitude practice. When I was younger I felt like a victim. I looked at hard circumstances as a reflection of my inability to manifest a better life. It was a form of self-criticism that could be relentless. Though I enjoyed fun times, my focus was on what I hoped to have or what I didn’t have. Mostly it was a deprivation mindset. And, if something good came my way but it didn’t meet my expectations, I would be crest fallen. Needless to say this was so frustrating for those close to me.
Now, I’ve probably moved too far in the other direction. I acknowledge the good in my life. However, sometimes I omit how hard it’s been. That can feel inauthentic.
I admit, these have been a hard couple of years. And, within the difficulties have been beautiful walks throughout the city. The pandemic taught me the importance of rest. We moved. I now have a daily view of the sun rising. Larry and I are communicating better, thus enjoying each other more. Our trans son, Alex, who began the medical transition a year ago, though it was many years in the making, is finding his way in the world. His transition is ongoing. I have amazing friends. And, I started this blog at the start of the pandemic. I am grateful.
It’s more of a stretch to be grateful for health concerns, expanding mental health needs in the city and in the world. I’m not grateful for growing inflation, though I do appreciate my ability to edit shopping lists by asking myself, “Do I really need this?” What a mixed bag we’re in. Nonetheless, if we focus on the small victories. If we have the courage to find the good among those who are angry and dissatisfied, we can move forward rather than being held back. Rather than imposing forced gratitude on those around us, let’s share our thanks for what they contribute to us. Give thanks while letting other get thanks.
- Simply say thank you the next time you’re complimented. Stay with the gratitude the person or people shared while enjoying the exchange.
- Find small moments that bring deep satisfaction. It can be a private moment, or it can be shared. Either way, take it in. Breathe.
- Write a Thank You note to yourself. What has made you proud? Can you be grateful for trying? See if you can appreciate the positive you bring to your life.