“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night. For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today I celebrate another birthday. Yes, some things are different today. I might hear from more people than a usual day. I might receive a few more cards or gifts than a usual day. I might eat a little unhealthier than a usual day.
But one thing that does not change from the other 364 days in the year… is feeling grateful.
We don’t need a special occasion or event to feel grateful. We don’t need to receive anything or be acknowledged to feel grateful. We don’t need to wait until we lose something or someone to feel grateful.
Being grateful is a skill to learn, a habit to form, a discipline to master. It requires effort and it demands practice. But when you put in that effort and when you truly practice being grateful, the way you see and experience the world will drastically change.
To be honest, on most days I am a nervous and anxious person who worries about everything and stresses out over the smallest things, causing me to be an insomniac, and is probably one of the triggers for my life-long migraines. On other days, my naturally introverted personality likes to be self-critical and forces me so deep inside my head that I feel like I am bordering between moodiness and depression. It is easy to be negative, to be pessimistic, to be angry. Life is cruel to everyone in so many ways… but life can also be beautiful if you allow yourself to see the light in the darkness.
Three years ago, I received a gift from my sister – a five-year journal. Each page had the date on the top, for example, March 10th, and underneath were 5 spaces for the journal entry, one for the current year, one for the following year, and so forth. I chose to use this journal as a tangible method of forcing myself to see, really see, at least one positive thing that I was grateful for that day. And so I began forming the habit of writing in my gratitude journal, and more importantly, forming “The Grateful Habit” of seeing the positive in negative, or simply ordinary, days.
Feeling grateful for not only the big things, but mostly the little things, is what transforms your attitude, your perspective, and your approach to life. I am grateful for the rain because it makes my daughter so incredibly happy to jump in puddles when normally I would avoid being outside at all, I am grateful when I share a positive conversation in passing with someone I might normally not have talked to, I am grateful I was kept safe instead of being in a horrible accident that I witnessed, I am grateful for the barista that decided to give me a free drink for no reason, I am grateful for sitting here right now sharing my thoughts with all of you…
My birthday wish this year is for you to try it, at least for today, to reflect on your day so far and pinpoint one unique moment that made today different, a little better, a tiny bit more special. What is something that made you smile, pleasantly surprised you, warmed your heart, helped you simply get through the day, or perhaps, made you laugh out loud today?
Today, I am grateful for YOU for taking the time to celebrate my birthday and reading my thoughts on this blog. Thank you, I so appreciate you, and I hope you will be inspired to join “The Grateful Habit” in your own daily life.
Here are some of my favorite Grateful quotes that I would love to share with you:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
~ Melody Beattie
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
~ John Milton
“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
“The greatest contribution we can make to the well being of those in our lives is to have peace in our own hearts. When our hearts are filled with gratitude and our minds are brimming with enthusiasm, everyone we encounter leaves our space feeling a little lighter than when they entered it.”
~ David Simon
“Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past, I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”
~ Henri J. M. Nouwen