Yesterday in church we talked about gratitude.
Before I even got there, in my car I had been thinking about ways to verbalize my appreciation for a family who was moving across the country and giving their goodbye talks that day. Oddly, the word "glowing" kept coming to mind. I thought it was just my non-morning-person brain functioning at a low level, able only to think of how shiny all their blond hair is. It turned into a metaphor, though. Glowing also relates to being a "shining example" and not hiding your proverbial light under a bushel. What I wanted to express gratitude for was service, fellowship, and example that was offered to me. Later that day, when I sat down to write out a card, I looked up quotes to aptly say thank you and the one above was the first one I read. Pretty amazing that it would follow the visual lighting theme of the day.
Part of the lesson about gratitude posed the question, "Are you thankful for your challenges?". Obviously, that is a harder task than being grateful for the wonderful things in the world like tulips, Nutella, and indoor plumbing. I will spare you my launch into the woes of my life and the requisite lessons I have learned from them, which are the silver linings for which I am grateful. I encourage you to give pause to this thought, though.
Both Oprah and a former clinical supervisor of mine recommended keeping a gratitude journal. There's plenty of research that shows that people who focus on the things they are grateful for each day are happier people. This is often a tool used in couple's therapy, too. I have a palm sized notebook that I can carry with me or easily keep next to my bed, and I try to list at least three things from that day I appreciated. I try not to duplicate these items from day to day but to find new things to be grateful for each day. It's pretty cool how this opens your eyes to see the good in the world, certainly not what we are used to hearing about!
I am by no means Pollyanna. Complaining is a favorite past time, in fact. Curmudgeon comments are a favorite quirk of mine. I guess I have to have something to balance that out, though.
So, in an effort to do so today, I will share my list with you and encourage you to share yours with me or someone else or just to write it down someplace. I always start the same way.
I am grateful for...
1. The turquoise sweatshirt I bought this afternoon
2. The sudoku book a client brought me today to keep me happy at court
3. A warm coat (It was negative two this morning!! Oh, and I still saw a man wearing just a t-shirt; we are hearty folk here in New England!)