I have a lot to be grateful for, but it wasn’t always that way. I once rather erroneously thought that life should always be a gratifying experience, and that I should be the recipient of a problem free life with no pain. How wrong I was, and how much I have grown up in the painful process of learning that life is often hard, sometimes just dull and pedestrian, but occasionally absolutely wonderful. It’s a hodge podge of the bitter sweet and the mundane, the joyful and the unexpected, the funny and the serendipitous.
It took me a long time to learn to be grateful. For many years I felt that life owed me a living and that just because I was living it out on this planet, the universe was obliged to look after me. But then I had a seismic shift in my thinking. I read somewhere that the very act of being grateful caused us to be happier human beings, and as I had always been a glass half empty girl, I decided to start a gratitude diary. How hard could it be to find only five things to be grateful for on a daily basis?
At first I had to scrape the barrel. Did finding that there was enough milk for coffee really count? Or that that windowed envelope in the mailbox was not for me? Well, I jotted them down anyway, trying to find at least five things a day that I could be grateful for.
The sunshine on my skin, the feel of my cat’s silky ears as I stroked her. My grandson’s hug and the feel of his skinny little body nestling into mine. The water dragon looking down from me from the rafters. The solitary gardenia left on the tree for me to put into a bud vase to bring fragrance to my home. The very fact that I have a home to live in, when much of the world does not. The fact that my fridge has food in it, and some of it is really nice food that was chosen and cooked with love. The fact that I have a job which allows me to even buy that food and the odd bottle of wine to enjoy.
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Each day the list of five got easier and easier. I found it hard to stop at only five things to be grateful for. Friends started to remark that I was really cheerful and good company. I was even grateful that I had such lovely friends. (Gosh, what was I before, I thought, miserable and pessimistic?) Well probably yes. Anyway, waking became easier, and taking on the day became less of an effort. Even the very act of making my own coffee from my coffee machine makes me feel grateful. Grateful that those farmers grew the beans, that the cow made the milk, and that it is in my fridge to make that lovely creamy and flavoursome flat white. I’m grateful for a warm shower, and the clothes I have to wear, the faithful old car that still gets me around.
I’m grateful that over a period of 10 years, when both my retinas detached at different times, that there was medical intervention available that only a decade earlier probably would not have been. I’m grateful to live in a country where I can get emergency medical treatment on Medicare. I am grateful that I can practice my faith without fear of reprisal or death. I am grateful I can vote for whom I wish, and can drink clean water and breathe clean air.
Do you get my drift? I know plenty of grumpy old women, and I just don’t want to be one of them. Scientific investigation reveals that being grateful makes us happier and healthier. We all know what it is like to be around someone who moans and groans all of the time. It is very wearing, and that person can become isolated when others stop socialising with them. I also want to mention, that throughout this experiment, I still had plenty of challenges with my health, relationships, job and finances, but somehow they were not as debilitating or overwhelming.
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So, today I am grateful for my tiny new granddaughter Cherri – for the new baby smell behind her neck and the softness of her skin. I am grateful that I was given a papaya to make a papaya salad. I am grateful that I got to tidy up some paperwork at work. I am grateful for a cooler evening after a long hot and humid summer. I’m grateful that there are clean sheets on the bed, and that I had some lavender spray left to spray on them. I’m grateful that tomorrow is payday and that I will have enough to pay my bills and maybe save a little for a long looked forward to holiday one day.
Do you get my drift? I am no Pollyanna playing the glad game, or speaking out a saccharine sweet mantra in order to bring good karma into my life. No, I am genuinely grateful for so many things. I challenge you to try it, and to see what impact it has on your life. Go on, give it a go. Jot down in a journal five things each day that you’re grateful for, and see where it takes you.
What are you most grateful for? Tell us about it below.