Gratitude is a funny thing. It’s a choice on how we look at the world around us, our blessings, the people in our lives and our circumstances. It’s a choice and it’s not natural for most of us. It’s not natural for me which is why I want to incorporate more gratitude practices throughout my day. During a season I was good with a practice before going to bed each night, journaling about what had happened that day and what I was grateful for. I’ve heard Rachel Hollis say that you should find specific things from the day rather than overarching general things like family, career, success, etc. You want to focus on key things from that day. In addition to the evening routine, I am incorporating a morning practice as well.
The reason I’m adopting this new morning gratitude practice is a result of a speech I heard recently. In this speech, the presenter shared that she sets multiple alarms throughout the day to interrupt her normal thought patterns and redirect herself to more positive thoughts that will serve her throughout the day. The first alarm that chimes are at 7:00 am and it reminds her to replace expectations with gratitude. She gets her thoughts focused on gratitude rather than what she’s hoping to accomplish or any expectations for that day. Instead, she counts her blessings and starts her day with a heart of thankfulness.
I incorporated this practice this morning and it felt silly at first. It was only 7:00 am so my list was short and difficult to come up with but eventually I thought big picture and came up with a concise, yet very important list including; grateful to be alive, for this time in my daughters’ lives, the balance I walk between faith, work, family, health and purpose. When my girls woke up and we started the morning march; breakfast, cleaning up, getting dressed, brushing teeth and hair, making beds and rushing out the door, I was able to stay present. I truly felt grateful and aware of the blessings in my life.
Fast forward to the afternoon and I want to share an important lesson with you. I thought this practice was cute. It made a difference for me but not in the grand scheme of things or at least that’s what I thought. Later that day I learned of a tragedy that happened to one of my friends. It was a major, life-changing, earth-shattering tragedy, one that will change the course of her life and her kids’ lives forever. Setting our thoughts on gratitude and thankfulness is not a cute thing, it’s a necessary thing. It’s as necessary as work, rest and being present today, right now. We’re never guaranteed a second more on this earth. We live like we have a lifetime and yet every single day is a miracle.
The tragedy that happened to my friend reminds me of the day I lost my brother unexpectedly. Many of us have a story. A story that stopped us in our tracks. A story where there was life before and then there was life after. A moment that sends a ripple in time where nothing will ever be the same again. We all need this reminder. I needed this reminder. Life is a gift. It’s relatively short and we only have the present. Be grateful today for everything you have. If you have problems, be grateful to be alive, for the opportunity to grow through those problems. We all have a million and more reasons to be grateful and we need to start today.