My dear mother taught me this very early in life. Whenever I started whining she used to point out from our bedroom window to the slums behind our apartment and say – Look how they live and be happy you have so much. Well, I didn’t think we had much and I never really got this for another decade or so. If you look up which part of the world the most number of unhappy people live in, you will be surprised to see that the top ten are developed countries of the world and not the poorest countries. It’s called the affliction of having too much to the point of not appreciating it. After I moved to the U.S. I ended up being a statistic. I was unhappy and considered myself a ‘deprived’ soul. Fortunately, some part of me saw a gaping hole in this theory. I had everything!
So why was I unhappy? Why was I needy? What was I missing? I was missing gratitude. Big time! All I did was whine about what I didn’t have (my mom tried to drill sense into me but it fell on deaf ears). When I hit 30 I think something changed and I shifted my focus and energy on being thankful for what I had. My life changed and wonderful things started happening to me.But it took me a long time to get to ‘this’ place – where I am right now. Where I’m thankful even for the times when I was battered, thrown off the cliff and hanging for my dear life. I am what I am because those not-so-nice things happened to me. I needed adversity to grow in wisdom and tragedy to teach me the gift of joy in fleeting moments.
Let me explain…I whined about being away from friends and family and being lonely all the time. Now, I realize that the time I spent alone was the time I found myself and got comfortable with ‘me’. These days I seek quiet moments away from the crowds, just to connect with my inner guidance and wisdom. Ten years ago I would have told you this is all gobbledygook and that I hate being alone!
The years I spent being unemployed and feeling worthless, I thought I would be happy with a job. But those years fine-tuned my senses to bring me back to writing and helping others. When I did get a job, I knew that just any job would never be enough anymore.
When I volunteer at the school, I sometimes wish I was paid for my time and effort (I’m not very proud of feeling that way) but the progress the kids make and the sheer joy of working with unpretentious souls whose sole purpose in life is to have fun, makes me want to do more. Sometimes I think I’m luckier than the teachers even though they get paid for what they do!
In hindsight, it’s been a rocky road but now I try to wake up every morning and give thanks for another beautiful day. It’s easy enough to do when things are going swimmingly. Try it when your life is topsy-turvy – that’s a real challenge. Today seems to be one of those days…so here goes. I’m thankful for being alive, for being in a loving relationship, for being a mom. I’m thankful for every person in my life who believed in me when I didn’t. I’m thankful for the gift of creativity, sensitivity and compassion. I’m thankful to you for reading this and thankful for my blog. I’m thankful that I finally realized that ‘I’ can make a difference however small and insignificant ‘I’ may be.
The universe likes gratitude and responds to gratitude. It conspires to bring you more of the same experiences that you are grateful for. It works in ways that your mind could never conceive and sometimes delivers you things beyond your wildest dreams. Gratitude shifts you into the state of receiving (speed delivery, first class, priority!) It happened to me. If you asked me in 2011 if I would ever write a blog, my answer would have been – NEVER!
And I stand corrected, humbled and eternally grateful.
Do share the three things in your life that you are most grateful for, below…Thanks!
7 thoughts on “Attitude of Gratitude”
Very True..And all the moral science lessons we learned in school, never really made sense until a few years ago..I’m thankful too 🙂
Like you, the three things that I have come to appreciate most as God’s blessings for one who has never wanted for wealth of any kind thanks to the earlier generation doing the struggling and hard working and conscious spending bits….are something else altogether, a set of parents and in laws who are with me through thick and thin and share our roof, so the children have the blessing of two sets of grandparents and their vast knowledge and experience and I have a back up system to fall back on , a career that while it doesnt make a difference as you said does allow me my share of independence, contributing to the household or at least the fringes in my small way and last but not the least two lovely girls who make every day more beautiful that the next every step forward a wonder that never ceases and every struggle worthwhile!….
And do u know one funny thing noticed when I was in the US for three years, every single person you met would always thank you for small niceties and if you did anything to help them in some way they would come back with “thank you, I really appreciate that” , while that was taking formalities to the extreme, it does teach you to be grateful for small things..here we are at the other extreme, we take family for granted but I now realize as a working mother of two when I see other working mothers struggle to hold on to their career how much I am really blessed!
There are an infinite number of things, both material and not so material, that fill my heart, mind, body, and soul with gratitude.
Am grateful for the values and ethics—honesty, integrity, lack of deceit, to name just a few—that my parents, mentors, and well-wishers have drilled or rather imbibed in me.
Am grateful that I have friends like you, who are there for me when I am down and out and at my grumpy worst.
Am grateful that I have a roof over my head and a dream house in the making.
Am grateful that I have a certain degree of freedom financial and otherwise.
And, yes, I am grateful toward myself—grateful that I am reasonably intelligent and have a sensitive and compassionate heart and the ability to soak in beauty and appreciate it all around.
Last but not the least, am grateful that your inspiring words and actions made me express my gratitude.
Forgot to express my gratitude for the difficult times that I have faced in the regular scheme of things—times that have strengthened my resolve and made me more gritty and resilient without hardening my soul.
MOST GRATEFUL FOR 1.MY LOVING FAMILY 2. FREEDOM TO LIVE THE LIFE I WANT 3. THE ALMIGHTY’S ENDLESS BLESSING.
OK, OK, you got me. Even with the bad day I’m having, I do have things to be grateful for.
The kid my husband & I are adopting.
The people I was able to rant to today when my kid’s case worker was being clueless.
The friend who came over and helped rearrange furniture so we could set up the kid’s room.
My mom who paid for the kid’s bed (dang, these things are expensive!)
My awesome freelance client who allows me to have an income.
My awesome TMJ doctor who has cut down on my migraines.
And you for getting me out of the miserable funk I’ve been in all day. Thanks.
Thanks for sharing Jen. Your effort to give the gift of a stable and happy home to a kid is commendable. Sending you lots of peace and love. Here’s hoping your family makes many wonderful memories together and have much to be thankful for in the coming years.