Gratitude just may be the highest form of praise. When we’re grateful, we acknowledge that we appreciate a gift, a person, a situation, or our life. It’s our “Amen, Thank You” to our world.
When we see only what we DON’T have, we don’t’ allow room for the joy that comes from acknowledging what we DO have.
Most of us have felt, at least occasionally, that it would be nice to have what someone else has. Sometimes this is borne out of jealousy or a sense of entitlement, but more often it’s simply the result of wishing that our life would be a little more like we PRESUME the other person’s life is like. Presume is the important word here because we rarely REALLY know what goes on behind the closed doors of other people’s lives. Maybe we wish that we had more money, a bigger house, a better body or more friends. Maybe we wish we were more successful, more fit, more outgoing or funnier. Maybe we just wish we didn’t have to struggle through each day, exhausted, because we’re SURE “we do so much more than everyone else”.
The trick is, of course, to wake up and be thankful for the life we do have. And, yes, I do know that sometimes that’s not easy.
When we’re caught up in our “stuff”; our “not-enoughs”, we forget that there are people, right now, taking their last breaths, or fighting off someone trying to kill them, or mourning the loss of their precious child, their parent, their spouse or their friend.
Take the time to list the people, and things that you DO have. Then, no matter what your circumstances are, start each day being thankful for just one thing or person.
The Roman Philosopher Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but the parent of all others.” Pretty smart, huh? Without the ability to be grateful, how do we truly honor all the gifts we have been given? Without gratitude how are we able to exhibit all the other wonderful traits we have?
Each day we get 86,400 brand new seconds to use. They aren’t left over from the seconds we wasted, or didn’t enjoy, yesterday. They aren’t on loan to us, in advance, from seconds that we’ll get NEXT week. No, they’re what we have for that one day. What if we use just 120 of them to express some gratitude? What if each morning, before we fill our heads with everything else, we take one minute to say “thank you God”? What if the last thing we say before we close our eyes each night is “thank you”? “Thank you for the health I DO have, thank you for the people I DO have, thank you for the food I DO have. Thank you for the blessings I DO have. Thank you.”
Don’t let gratitude come to you when it’s too late. When you lose someone you love, THEN you recount all the wonderful times and experiences. When you lose your career, THEN you recognize how fortunate you were to have that income. When your friend moves far away, THEN you realize how blessed you were to have that camaraderie. When you lose the home you love, THEN you realize how wonderful it was. When your child grows up and, THEN you miss the joy you had in those wonderful years.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself about what you don’t have or about what “didn’t go as planned”, find a way to adapt to the reality that you’re in. Sometimes in those places where we feel most lost, we ultimately find the most joy.
Stop and really look at what you have, see the beauty in all the small things that add up to the big thing…your life. Cherish and honor the special people who walk with you; the people you can share laughter and joy with; the people who are “there for you” when you need a shoulder to cry on or an arm to lean on. Then live in the now, love in the now, express gratitude in the now. What else is there?