I have been thinking about gratitude a lot lately, probably because I have also been thinking about how terrible things have been for the past couple of years, full of a seemingly endless series of traumatic and stressful events.
I have been thinking of how very different I handled the very first of all of these traumatic events compared to how I handle stressful day-to-day events now and the contrast is striking.
When one of my twin boys was born blue and not breathing and spent his first twenty-four days in the hospital, I was stressed and often sad or overwhelmed, of course; but I was also extremely confident that everything was going to work out, with this incredibly positive attitude and approach to every decision or event of each of those twenty-four days. When one of his doctors came to tell us the news that the brain damage from his oxygen deprivation gave him only a 30% chance of having a life with a limited disability (meaning a 60% chance that he would have serious physical or mental handicaps that would severely limit his life), I remember telling the doctor that if I had a 30% chance of winning the lottery I would play every damn day. I felt so overwhelmingly grateful that he was alive at all that a 30% chance felt like something to be incredibly grateful for.
Today, I grumble about almost anything. I grumble when I wake up because I'm so tired; I grumble when it's a mealtime because I have to figure out what to make and make it and serve it and play referee throughout the meal and clean it all up afterwards; I grumble when I'm putting the boys to bed; I grumble when they're in bed because I have all this other stuff to do - or I have all this stuff I want to do and don't have the time - or have nothing to do and wish I was doing something. I even grumble in my dreams.
What has changed? I have thought for a long time that what changed was myself from naive to jaded, but I am thinking these days that it might really be something much more profound. I have stopped being grateful. I have stopped taking enough time to pause, to reflect, to appreciate.
Then I saw this: Want to be happy? Be grateful.
It got me thinking even more about "grateful living" and living a life of gratefulness. Compared to where I currently find myself, it sounds like a long, patient journey. But it also sounds like an incredibly pleasant one, and one that can bring wonderful changes to myself, to others, to my community, to the world. Everyone benefits from being grateful.
So I'm taking a small step that will hopefully encourage many more. I am going to start recording what I am grateful for every day and sharing it with you. I am going to drop the thinking and analyzing and write from the heart. My hope is that knowing I will be writing it out and sharing it with others will encourage me to reflect on it more often; that even possibly you reading about it will encourage you to find something to be grateful for yourself; and that you might even share your gratitude with others who might share it with others who might share it with others and that gratitude might spread like wildfire.
I'm already grateful for the opportunity here. :) Let's get going.