Is your Attitude one of Gratitude?
“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full…Be grateful that you have a glass and there is something in it.”
An attitude of gratitude - who has one? Suffice it to say that the holidays can bring out the best and worst in all of us and sometimes that attitude of gratitude may be slightly, shall we say, out to lunch. Stress, family, money concerns, illness, loss - the laundry list of why our attitude of gratitude may not be brimming over can be a mile long and it can simply be hard to find in the chaos of life and holidays. But, because there is always a but, with a little work, a little forethought and some determination, you can find that gratitude and the difference it can make in your day to day is life changing.
So gratitude - what exactly IS it? Well, let’s see… It’s a lot of things. It’s when you walk into a house in disarray and are greeted with the shrieks of laughter as your children wrestle with their father and you smile with gratitude at the simple joy - realizing the house can wait.
It’s looking out into your backyard and seeing two puppies covered in mud from the broken sprinkler head and you laugh out loud - rather than lament how much is that going to cost or great, now the dogs are filthy dirty. It’s driving a 1998 Volvo station wagon with 240,000 miles and cruising down the road singing to the radio, oblivious to the plume of exhaust trailing behind you - because your lack of a car payment helps with your child’s tuition. And as long as that Volvo gets you where you need to go, who cares if it smells like a bologna sandwich. And it’s so much more than all of that.
Gratitude is the realization that your eyes that get to see the beauty of a fall day, the magnificence of a shooting star, the smile on your loved ones face - that it is all a gift. Because there are many that do not get to see what you do. Gratitude is finding strength and companionship in the hand holding yours, security in the walls of your home, satisfaction in having a full belly after a meal as there are many that are without those basic comforts. Gratitude is the sweet smell of a baby, the puppy breath that tickles our nose, the sticky handprints on our sliding glass door and taking a moment to close our eyes and give thanks for those reminders of how precious life is and how blessed we are to share in those reminders. Because there are many that are without those simple moments and sweet tokens of daily life that we so often take for granted.
Many of us have instances of gratitude, times where maybe illness has crept in or tragedy has struck and we get a reality slap that those things that matter don’t cost anything at all and are right in front of us. So we reel ourselves back in and we make a pledge to ourselves, to our loved ones that we have awakened to those things we have in our life to be grateful for and we are going to live a life of gratitude forever. And, as you can imagine and as we have experienced ourselves, where the intent is often pure carrying out that plan often falls short after a couple of days, weeks or months.
How do you do it then? How do you find the gratitude? I mean who wouldn’t want to make changes in their life, train your brain to see the good, be grateful not hateful, be happier? We’ve got a few tips and tricks that have worked for us and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be brave enough to get out of your comfort zone and see if they will work for you.
Yep - you read it right. Gratitude is a CHOICE. And for many of us that are used to our daily complaints, annoyances, things not going right, etc. this step can be the hardest. It means taking the situations that come about in your day and choosing to seek, to find, drag it out and face it head on - GOOD in the situation. And sometimes the only good that you can find is simply trusting that things happen for a reason and you’re going to just roll with the punches and do the best you can - rather than focus on the negativity.
Carry around a gratitude list.
Most of us here at Everlasting Memories have one. Our lists may range from anywhere from 10 to 30 ‘items’ and might be anything from the names of our children to that first sip of hot coffee in the morning in a quiet house to the smell of clean laundry. Creating a gratitude list not only helps you refocus your mind on your ‘haves’ but when trouble comes knocking and you feel yourself falling down the hole of despair - pull out your list! It serves as a gentle reminder that no matter what life hands you that you do have things in your life to be grateful for and, more often than not, it also helps to put things into a much clearer perspective.
Do something good for someone else.
We’ve all had those days. Nothing goes right, you spill your coffee on the way to work, the dog threw up on the new carpet, you accidentally threw out your child’s homework, so on and so forth. A great remedy for that is to do something good for someone else, a random act of kindness. Pay for the coffee behind you in line, take your neighbor’s trash can up to their garage, drop a card in the mail to a friend, slow down and let the person trying to merge get in front of you. Doing something kind for someone else typically leaves not only the recipient feeling good but leaves you with a good feeling in your heart too.
Find a happy place.
Whether it’s music, gifting yourself 30 minutes of reading whatever you love to read a day, going for a walk, whatever it is that makes your heart full - do it every day. Those things that fill our heart are some of the most powerful motivators around and often don’t cost us anything but our time. And the end result is a calmer, happier, more grateful you.
We’ve put these things into motion in our own lives. You can drive to the local coffee house in town and find that most days, someone has paid for the coffee for the person behind them and it has set off a chain reaction that goes through three to five customers paying for the person behind them. We have a staff member that paid for a tank of gas for a broke teen and both the teen and the staff member were brought to tears by the moment – the teen’s overwhelming gratitude for a full tank of gas and kindness of a stranger and the staff member because what amounted to $25 in cash was nothing compared to the teen’s gratitude. We regularly do a circle of thanks at the holidays to serve as a reminder for those intangible things that make us whole. We are book readers, music lovers and throughout the week you will see our staff taking a quick stroll around the block to clear their head and their hearts and just find the gratitude in their day.
As we roll into Thanksgiving, we hope that you have a heart full of gratitude for all of your ‘haves’. There is so much in life to be grateful for and although our vision can at times be foggy due to the chaos of life and family and kids and schedules and commitments, the gratitude is still there waiting for you to find it, saying ‘pick me, pick me.’ Choose gratitude and it will open up your eyes to so many of life’s gifts. Wishing a safe and Happy Thanksgiving to our family, our friends, our customers and the hope that your holiday and your hearts are filled with gratitude!
“Don’t need no 5 star reservations. I got spaghetti and a cheap bottle of wine. Don't need no concert in the city. I got a stereo and the best of Patsy Cline…Cuz I gotta roof over my head, the woman I love laying in my bed…shoes under my feet, forever and a night staring back at me…I got all I need and it’s alright by me.”