When I was younger I heard an adult talk about having an “attitude of gratitude.” To be honest, I cringe at clichéd statements like this one. In my mind, statements like this keep us detached from what we’re really feeling (the assumption being that we’re complaining and need to shut up and just be happy dammit). These statements so often shame us for expressing our true emotions. I began to wonder lately if, despite this trite statement and all the baggage it brings, there could be something to the practice of gratitude.
The Power of Gratitude
There seems to be an undeniable power in gratitude. I am not talking about a trite gratitude which is forcing you to be thankful. Instead, this type of gratitude calls you to pause and realize the many things you can give thanks for. I am often surprised when I realize how long my list is… especially on days when life feels disappointing and frustrating. Ok, let’s be honest, on the days when I don’t get my coffee when I want it and I feel fat, ugly and that nobody loves me. Can anyone relate?
On those days when I just want to crawl back into bed, I have found that gratitude brings me back into alignment. No, it doesn’t erase my problems, but gratitude has this way of revealing that there is more to my story today than sad, mopey girl has the worst life ever. It puts my sadness into the context of a greater life, full of resources: basic needs, family, friends, coffee, etc. When I see how full my life is, my sadness no longer is the defining aspect of my life.
So, as much as I dislike trite statements, I have to admit that having an “attitude of gratitude” is actually a wonderful thing.
As you finish this article, can I encourage you to stop a moment and consider what you’re grateful for? Perhaps it’s as simple as gratitude for air to breathe, food to eat, and a place to live. Maybe it’s more complex, like the gift of a beautifully prepared meal or unexpected words of encouragement from a friend or family member (or even a stranger).
Let me start you off by sharing what I’m grateful for in this moment:
- The song playing right now in the coffee shop is lovely (Finishing up a song by the Avett Brothers and moving into an Adele song off her first album).
- The refuge of an air conditioned coffee shop in the midst of this heat.
- The chance to share a few thoughts with you!
What are you grateful for today?