Oh, how I love the “Why am I grateful?” card. Learning to practice this concept changed my life. I hear some of you say, “That’s kind of overblown, doncha think, Pam?” Yeah, no.
I will say that I have a daily appreciations practice and that is different, for me, from gratitude.
Why am I grateful? What makes me appreciative? How am I thankful?
So here’s how I distinguish among these guys. Appreciation is how I live my life. What is the silver lining? How can I spin this into something good? Why would this be beautiful? How else could this be? What makes me change my judgment?
I first started getting this concept looking at the photographs of Joel-Peter Witkin. His stuff is amazing, very challenging, and some of it is stunningly beautiful to me. I found that it challenged not only my ideas of beauty, but also my ideas about my ideas. Ooh, deep!
Listening to others talk about what they like also change my thoughts. I tend to prefer sunny days, but one of my sisters is crazy for rainy days. Why would she like a rainy week? How could I value rainy days? What makes me find the gold in a gray day? Heh. Nice ways to mess with the mind!
Gratitude, on the other hand, is about the outside world impacting me. In days of yore, I searched for the yuck. I looked for ways I got shorted, or hurt, or abused. Then I would worry it and worry it until it festered into resentments. I was very good at that. As a child, I remember being asked a bazillion times to write thank-you notes. I hated doing that. I never felt that the gift I received made a big enough difference in the awfulness of my life to warrant a thank you. Poor little former self. Suffering is so judgmental and self-absorbed.
Gratitude, like appreciation, took me a lot of practice. I had to spend time every day thinking about whom I was grateful to, and why. That meant practice. Hmm. It also meant that I had to take note when something nice happened to me. I mean, I actually had to write stuff down because I didn’t have a Gratitude area in my brain, so stuff just bounced off. I am sad that I was so ungrateful for so long. I am happy that I have changed that.
Now, gratitude feels as easy as breath. Rare is the day that I am not aware of the kindness of most people I encounter; the smiles of strangers, a generous gesture, a kind word. It has changed my thinking about the world.
Now, I keep thank-you notes at my desk, at work, and at home. I write them a lot. I feel good expressing my gratitude to its source. I hear back that the recipients like to get them. Writing gratitude notes also helps me stay in touch with how much gratitude I have every day. You are such a big part of that just by reading this, by considering my ideas about stuff. I am so grateful to you for giving me a platform, and for being so patient with me as I have traveled this year through Wonderland addressing my health topics, my mis-learned beliefs about healing and cancer and attitude. Wowie kazow, have I learned a lot, let go of a lot.
How have I changed from feeling entitled and let down to living a life of gratitude?
(c) Pam Guthrie 2015 all rights reserved 12152015