20 Nov Practicing Gratitude
Gratitude has become quite the buzz word and hot topic these days. There are countless studies showing a direct correlation between gratitude and happiness, contributing to a positive and healthy lifestyle. And with Thanksgiving around the corner, gratitude will be on most people’s minds and lips, especially around the dinner table. It will certainly be a focus before our family meal, as it has been our tradition since I was a child.
When reflecting on my childhood, I can think back to one of my best years ever: my senior year in high school. Nothing specifically monumental happened that year to make it stand out above the rest. In fact, it was one small thing that I did daily that made the year so wonderful.
At the time, my mom was living with terminal cancer. She has been diagnosed in late 1995 with 6 months to live.* My senior year of high school spanned 1998-1999, and thankfully my mom was still with us, defying the odds. As can be expected when facing a terminal illness, the patient and their family often turn to God, which is how we found our way to a local Presbyterian church, despite not being a particularly religious family.
We’d attend service together on Sunday, and there were times I went with my mom after school to talk and pray. We had some good cries and a lot of deep conversations about what life would be like after she was gone, what she wanted us to know about my dad finding love again, and the importance of us remaining a tight family.
Additionally, I was involved with the high school group that met on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. And I had a small “bible study” group of sorts which comprised of 4 other high school girls and our female leader.
Now I (sadly) can’t remember the name of our leader, but I’ll never forget the gift she gave us that year. In fact, I still have it. She had purchased a simple gratitude journal for each of us and encouraged us to write in it daily.
Most days I could come up with five things to be grateful for, but even on those really tough days, I could still usually find two or three. And from just that simple daily task that took mere minutes, I remember having one of the best – and by that, I mean happiest – years of my life. Despite my mom’s diagnosis; despite the ups-and-downs of being a teenage girl with little control over her raging hormones. I know it was because of that gratitude journal.
Over the past few years, I’ve attempted – unsuccessfully – to journal daily, including three reasons to be grateful each day. I even bought a 5-minute journal which includes this small question on each entry, but I still haven’t been able to fall into a daily routine. Running a business is a lot more work than anyone initially expects, and often the personal stuff gets pushed off for paying clients. What’s the saying? Something about the cobbler’s children having no shoes…
It’s not difficult to take two minutes a day to write down all I’m grateful for – so why can’t I do it? Why is it hard to build such a small but important habit? I don’t know. As a professional organizer, I help people create new systems and implement habits on a daily basis. I will admit, the systems are the easy part – the fun puzzle to solve. It’s the habit building and implementing that is difficult.
Since gratitude is on my mind, especially around this time of year, I think I’ll try to start that daily habit again and I hope you’ll join me.
I am grateful for:
- My health – mentally, physically and spiritually
- My family and friends, far and wide
- My thriving business, my talent for holistic organizing, and my ability to serve others through this work
- My loyal clients who support and believe in me
- My supportive coaches, colleagues, and business friends
- My education and sharp mind
- My financial freedom
- My affordable, scenic and safe rental in one of the most beautiful parts of the country
- My ability to travel
- My talent for public speaking
- My love of writing (7 kids’ books manuscripts written, and counting – and of course this blog)
But what I’m most grateful for at this time, is the ability to continue growing and learning, and a desire to deepen my spirituality.
What are you grateful for? Please share with me in the comments below.
I hope if you are reading this – and you’ve made it this far – that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love and gratitude – two things we could all stand to have an abundance of all year around.
If I know you personally, thank you for being a part of my life – whether for a reason, season or lifetime. I am grateful for you and the lessons you’ve taught me, and our times shared.
If I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, thank you for coming to my blog to read my musings. I hope we have the opportunity to get to know each other in the near future. Please let me know how I may be of service.
*My mom passed away in September 2004, 9-years after her original diagnosis, which is pretty incredible for stage 4 metastatic ovarian cancer. I’m grateful for the time I had with her and all that she was able to teach me in the short time she was with me. I know she still watches over us, and keeps us safe.