I was reflecting today on this wacky year. With the pandemic, the nasty political season, a difficult economy, eroding of important values in society, the lack of civility in our country and a host of other challenges…I could rightfully be in a grumpy state of mind. Maybe you are feeling that way right now? It also dawned on me that I have a clear choice…a choice between feeling grumpy and feeling grateful.
I am choosing to feel grateful.
I am grateful for many things. This difficult year has brought my family closer together. My children have learned how to be more resilient and have made the most of their experiences with school, work and life despite the challenges of Covid-19. We have all worked on our physical health this year and our prayer lives have never been stronger. I have close family members who have contracted Covid-19 and gotten over it. There are at least two exciting new Covid vaccines about to be introduced to the world at a speed nobody thought possible. My businesses are thriving and I am grateful to do work that I love. I have friends who I cherish and I am grateful to have them in my life.
If we all take a moment and reflect on the good things and blessings in our lives, we will likely find ample reasons to be grateful. Gratitude is always a healthy substitute for frustration, envy, anger and a host of other negative emotions. Do you agree? I will also share that I am working on three practical actions each day to help me stay focused on a grateful mindset:
- Three things I am grateful for. With the encouragement of a priest at our family’s parish, I don’t go to sleep without saying a prayer of thanks for at least three things I am grateful for in my life. This seems simple, but it is a powerful way to cement grateful thinking into our daily routine.
- Expressing gratitude to someone specific each day. I have a goal each day of calling at least one person I am grateful for and letting them know I appreciate them and grateful they are in my life or sending a hand-written note of gratitude to that person. This cultivates a finer appreciation and deeper sense of gratitude for the incredible people I have been blessed to know in my life.
- Daily encounters filled with friendliness, kindness and gratitude. I am on Zoom or business calls throughout the day. I take long walks in my neighborhood. I go to the grocery store and other retail stores as needed. I pick up meals or my family eats at restaurants with social distancing in mind. We go to mass at our parish each Sunday. I am encountering several people every day in these various environments and I have a wonderful opportunity with each person I see to simply be kind…to be positive, hopeful and friendly…to be thankful and grateful when appropriate. Perhaps I can positively contribute to the “ripple effect of gratitude” through these actions?
Thanksgiving is this Thursday. Families and friends all over our country will come together as safely as they can to enjoy each other’s company and hopefully to be grateful and thankful for what they have that is good, but maybe also for their challenges. Perhaps in all our difficulties this year there have been powerful lessons we have learned or difficult experiences that have shaped us for the better. If nothing else, I encourage all of us to be grateful for simply being alive and the opportunity to contribute to a more hopeful future. That would be a great place to start.
Grumpy or grateful…we have a choice!
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson