What does gratitude mean to you? It is a word and a feeling that I often neglect. I become too focused on what I am missing or what I am anxious about, that I forget to just allow myself to be grateful for what is right in front of me. The art of gratitude is not in being thankful for the blessings you have waited on for a long time, or the miracles that happen in seemingly impossible circumstances.
The art of gratitude is being grateful for a home to live in, a family, friends or even a furry friend to come home to, a car that drives you to where you need to go, having $6 in your bank account because it is better than not even having a bank account… Gratitude is being grateful for the things we take for granted because we just expect them every day.
If you have ever met my “other half” you have learned he is one of the most extroverted, laid back and positive people you will ever meet. Don’t let this information frighten you… he is a real person… he just has an excellent outlook on gratitude. He has not had an easy life, none of us have. We have all gone through struggles with just waking up in the morning let alone going throughout our day. When I asked him how he stays so positive all the time or why it never feels like he is anxious he said, “I just think about the fact that someone else is struggling with something that I have, and someone else has it worse than I do.”
When he first told me that, my immediate reaction was even more anxiety. I am stressing over my own life situations, and now I am thinking about how can I help those who have it even worse. What can I do to help them? Then… I stopped adding anxiety onto my anxiety, and listened to what he was actually saying. This world is by no means perfect, and life can be unfair. There are so many people out there that deserve so much more than what they have, but I cannot solve the world’s problems.
What I can do is be grateful for where I am right now. I encourage you as you start to stress, become anxious or forget your gratitude to do one of two things:
- Count your blessings. Name off 10 things that you have right now that you have taken for granted. It could be as simple as running water. There are people living in our own backyards who do not have running water or access to a home or a facility with running water.
- Give yourself a gratitude reminder. My niece (pictured above) reminds me every day to be grateful. The awesome thing about the innocent gratitude of a child is she is so grateful to just have a cup of milk, or someone to pick her up, or just a friendly face to smile and laugh with her. That is true gratitude.
Don’t get so caught up in your worries, that you forget your gratitude.