I’d be lying if I said I was always thankful. Truth is, there are days I find myself less than grateful. It’s true I’ve been given a lot, a fantastic husband, an incredible family, a beautiful home. I truly am one blessed person. And yet . . .
Sometimes I have an ungrateful heart.
I feel bad admitting that. But it’s true.
I figured it out a few months ago. I was in the middle of a busy period in my life, one of those times when every stressor landed at my feet – a husband’s potential job loss, family visitations, vacations. I know, some weren’t bad, yet, they were still stressful, especially when they happened all at one time.
One night I fell into bed, exhausted. I was tired, and just plain frustrated. It was one of those moments when nothing in my life felt right.
I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. I should have been grateful for everything, including the fact that my husband at least still had a job. But I wasn’t thankful for one single thing.
Then it hit me. Oh, the guilt. The immeasurable, insufferable, guilt. How could I, a person who has been so blessed, be so terribly ungrateful?
It was then I knew, I needed a change of heart. I needed to learn gratitude.
I’d read about people who filled out gratitude journals. They said their lives had changed. They said their hearts became new. Maybe it was time for me to do the same thing.
I knew I’d never follow-through and write in a journal every day. I’d tried that too many times in my life and failed. But there was another way.
I closed my eyes that night, and thought about all the things I should be thankful for. Honestly, I wasn’t thankful for anything. So I thought. And I thought. And I thought. And all I could come up with was ‘air.’ I am thankful for air, I said to myself.
I fell asleep.
The next morning as I woke up, I immediately thought about my very-short gratitude list. I repeated it, “I am thankful for air.”
That night, once again, I gave thanks. It was a little easier this time. Air, I said. And life. Because air gives us life. I am thankful for both.
And once again the next morning, my first thoughts were ‘air’ and ‘life’. Again, I gave thanks.
Each night since then, I have repeated these simple steps of giving thanks, and each morning I wake to the same thoughts. Only something else has happened.
I find myself giving thanks in the middle of the day, sometimes for the silliest things. Like a busy grocery line in which I found time to talk to another customer, or a delay in traffic and time to listen to the radio.
It seems the more I give thanks, the more I find to give thanks for.
I wish I could say my attitude totally changed to one of always be thankful, but you already know that’s not true. It certainly wasn’t a few weeks ago.
I was sitting at my desk when the doctor called.
“You need a biopsy,” she said.
To say I was terrified would be putting it mild. I was angry, depressed, and far from grateful.
But even in the midst of this time in my life, each night as I fell asleep, I managed to find something to be grateful for. Because it seems when one develops a habit, it sticks.
So even when I was scared, and felt so alone, I found a few things to be grateful for: a husband who wrapped his arms tight around me, his reassurance that all would be okay; a family who loved, supported, and prayed for me; a doctor whose calm demeanor calmed me.
No, I will not always feel grateful. But I know, that even in the midst of an awful situation, at the end of the day, I can still give thanks.
There is power in the simple act of giving thanks.
I hope you, too, can find the simple power of daily thanksgiving. Start with one thing today. What are you grateful for?