Like other quarterly tax payers, I recently sent in my final contribution for 2011. I put a Love Stamp on the envelope.
That never would have happened in the past. I would have fussed and fretted and grudgingly written out my check.
Although I grew up with constant messages to be thankful and appreciative, those feelings were not familiar friends. Most of the time, I’d compare myself to others and I always came up short.
My classmates were more talented, more attractive, more intelligent. Other people had houses and cars that were far cooler than anything I owned.
The only time I came close to being thankful was when I’d hear a story of tragedy or misfortune. Whew, I’d think, at least I’m not a starving orphan in Africa. Whew, the tornado missed our town.
Stuff like that.
During an especially dark and difficult period of my life, I was horrified to discover some dreadful personal behavior. When my teenaged daughter would arrive home from school, I would begin to list all the mishaps that had occurred during her absence.
Then one day, I heard myself. I felt remorseful and was determined to change.
I came up with a plan. “Let’s make a pact to tell each other three great things that happened during the day as soon as you get home.”
That sounds like such a simple thing, but what happened next was nothing short of miraculous. For starters, I had to pay attention.
But that wasn’t the biggest change. Suddenly, I found myself purposely making sure that I had good things to report.
My focus shifted and before I knew it, good things were happening that I hadn’t consciously instigated myself.
That was only the beginning. I discovered that when I tapped into genuine gratitude, I began to uncover resources that had been hiding in plain sight.
This was heady stuff. For the first time in memory, I began to love my life. I stopped comparing myself to other people.
Gratitude knocked self-pity off its pedestal.
Eventually, I began keeping a Gratitude Journal. That had a surprising gift for me as well. Not only was I consistently reviewing my days and noting the things for which I was thankful, I was creating a resource to stop me when I was tempted to backslide.
On a day when I was feeling less than confident, I’d grab my journal and see page after page of all the blessings that had already shown up in my life.
It gave me my perspective back.
Many people who’ve turned their lives around report that change didn’t happen until they’d hit rock bottom. Emotional pain was the motivater for change.
You could test that for yourself, I suppose. Or you could experiment with practising genuine gratitude right here and now.
Writer Gustave Flaubert said, “The greatest goal in life is the not the attainment of fame. The principle thing in this world is to keep one’s soul aloft.”
Gratitude is the propellant for blasting your spirit into higher realms.
Show your appreciation. Start your own Gratitude Journal. Don’t overlook an opportunity to thank someone.
It’s impossible, after all, to stay grumpy where there’s so much to celebrate.