I know, I know. You can’t pick up a women’s magazine or self-help book these days without reading an article about gratitude. So before you say “enough already,” I want to remind you (and myself) why being grateful is so important.
I used to think that being grateful for things like fresh air, clean water, plenty of food didn’t really count. I wanted to be able to be grateful for having a lot of money, being the best lawyer in America, having a new big house and fancy car. Those things are all great. I wouldn’t mind having them. But after having lived through my husband’s serious illnesses and seeing my friends come forward with love, food, and comfort I am more able to sit with my life and be grateful for what I have each day. That’s where I find peace and serenity. In the present of the present.
This deep feeling of true gratitude is similar to the feeling I get when I’m sitting beside a stream in the Sandia Mountains or when I’ve stepped outside on a clear night to look at the stars. I call it Oneness or Enlightenment or Peace. And I think that’s what we’re looking for when we have a case of what my sister calls “the I wants.” We don’t really want the new car as much as we want the feeling of deserving or being able to buy the new car. We want to feel serene. We want to know we’re OK. We want to be peaceful.
When we feel serene we look at life through those wonderful rose-colored glasses. Life is good, our children are doing fine, our house is perfect, our job is fun, our significant other is the right one. That’s the feeling of gratitude. And I don’t know about you, but that is where I want to live. In the appreciation of the present.
So – keeping a gratitude journal is not only a good idea, it works. It gets you out of the resentful past or the fearful future and into the present. It works especially well when you don’t want to use it. Get a blank book. A pretty journal or a notebook that feels good and that you like to write in. Put it next to your bed. Before you go to sleep, make a list of ten things you’re grateful for. It doesn’t matter what they are. Begin today and see what happens. I bet you’ll find more and more things to be grateful for and in the process more peace.