Feeling Gratitude

My sister Amber and I have been discussing gratefulness a lot lately. Amber came across an article that included some research finding that people who express gratitude and give thanks for what they have are significantly happier than those that do not.

I have always thought being grateful meant comparing what you have to what someone else doesn't have.

For example, even though my apartment constantly leaks cold air and I get splinters in my feet from the never-refinished hardwood floors, I should be grateful that I have a roof over my head at all. I have good food on my plate, so therefore I should be grateful because some people don’t have access to healthy food at all.

It turns out being grateful is much more than that.

Gratefulness is not just applying a side-by-side comparison of what you have versus what someone else does not. It is about feeling thankful for everything you’ve been blessed with, how these things came into your life, and acknowledging the little miracles.

Actual definition of gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for, and to return kindness.

Amber and I have been trying especially to be more mindful about our eating habits. Not just putting healthier foods into our bodies, but also not eating while standing at the kitchen counter and shoveling it down our throats just to get on to the next thing we have to do that day.

We are trying to create a new habit so that when we sit down to eat, we really think about the food we’re about to eat and how thankful we are to have it. Kind of in the way that religious folks say grace, but Amber came up with her own script that works for us and I absolutely love it:

We receive this food in gratitude to all beings who have helped bring it to this table, and to the nature that provided it. We receive this food to maintain this body, and stay healthy - letting go of unpleasant feelings, without stirring up new ones. And for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful.

Today is my 38th birthday (woohoo)! My wish is to go into this year holding that kind of gratitude in my heart every single day - throughout every facet of my life.

Even just pausing for a moment to be thankful for a warm hug from a friend, a morning to sleep in, a good pair of thick wool socks, or the fact that green chili exists. I want to exist treasuring the belief that life is beautiful, and choose to cherish kindness and good rather than be weighed down by the ugly and bad.

We can choose where we invest our energy, and I am choosing the lighter side.

And with that, I’m grateful for you. Thank you for being a part of my life, for reading this post, for waking up this morning and being your wonderful self.

Cheers to another year!