As I mentioned in a previous post, a few years ago I went through a major shake up in my life. I look back on that time regularly as it was a time of enormous growth for me. Although I had healed a lot of my wounds previous to that, this was the time that I put into practice a lot of what I had been learning. In the past it had all been nice theory, it suddenly became vital to get me through one of the scariest times in my life.
One of the things I truly learned to understand was the power of gratitude.
I have never been one for “remember, there is always someone else out there worse off than you”, this always felt trite and empty. They didn’t give any respect to how I was feeling at the time. Yes, there are people out there worse off than me, but I am not in their lives, I am in mine. Call me selfish, but when I am in a bad place it’s all about me.
However, the concept of gratitude, for me is slightly different. It brings the attention back to me and my life. In the start I don’t think gratitude changes anything material, but what it does to is give you a different viewpoint on your life. When we don’t have much, seeing what we do have, and expressing gratitude takes the focus off what is lacking. It can be minor things but showing gratitude allows us to see the degree that small things change our lives.
One of the issues I had when I moved into my flat was that I wanted to take my cat with me but the front door didn’t have a cat flap. Charlie had always had a cat flap and came and went as he liked, there was no way I could live in a tiny flat and have him trapped inside while I was out. My father, seeing how much I needed this to be resolved, went to the tip and found me a front door, exactly the same as the one on the flat, that was £35. He fitted a catflap and changed the door for me. Now Charlie could come live with me.
Every day I would give thanks for that door and what it had given to me.
When we cultivate a viewpoint of gratitude we start to see other things in life that make our lives better. My car for instance, many people see their car as a think to get them from A to B, my car allowed me to rebuild my life. My computer allowed me to connect with people when I couldn’t put fuel in my car.
All of these are material things, but as we continue to build on this we can roll it out to other things…. think of a sunny day. How much happier do we feel when the sun is out and we can breathe warm air? Stop and appreciate it for what it is in that moment. While our world is crumbling we could just think, yes but tomorrow it may be raining and I will have to deal with hard decisions. Or, we could take a moment, take in a lung full of fresh air, feel the sun on our face and feel our strength to face the dark days coming increase. Give thanks for that moment and you will find you walk a little taller and feel a little stronger.
When I lived on my own I journalled every day. Just before I went to sleep I would pour my stress, fears and sorrows into that book as a way to clear my head. I would always finish it with 3 statements. The first statement would be of gratitude, I would find something to give thanks for from the day, even if it was just for the strength to get to the end of the day. I would like to think that it helped me fall asleep knowing that the next day would also have something, no matter how small, that I could be thankful for.
Of course, if you also believe in a higher power, giving thanks shows that higher power that you appreciate everything it is doing for you. I was acutely aware that Spirit wanted me to be in a good and happy place but there were things I had to learn before I could get there. Showing gratitude, even for the hard things meant that I was able to face difficult times with a faith that there was a reason for it. Yes there were times when I would fall and not be grateful at all, crying at Spirit asking why I was having to deal with this, but in calmer moments I was able to see the reasons and able to give thanks for the process I had to go through to solve the problems.
It’s crazy, that year between March 2006 and April 2007 was the hardest year in my life, but I regularly give thanks for the lessons I learned, the experiences I had and the destination that was waiting for me.