Gratitude Defines You

The obvious element of cultivating a sense of gratitude is not taking the good stuff in life for granted. Of course, we are thankful for the house we live in even if it’s not in the school district we wanted. We are thankful for our kids growing into responsible, successful adults. Thankful for our health, the food on our table, warm coats and good friends. Gratitude comes into the equation when you are still grateful for your house even if it is where your spouse died. Even if it burns down. Thankfulness is easy, gratitude takes practice.

What I mean by “practice” is this: imagine you get a flat tire on your way to an important job interview. Your first impulse is probably to yell and scream, which are fine to do in the privacy of your vehicle, in fact, please do because you deserve it. But to then immediately come to a place of thankfulness and acceptance for this event is the part that takes practice. Think of all the bad things that have happened in your life: layoffs, deaths, breakups, car accidents. Then think of how your perseverance through these trials that make your life Your Life has shaped the person you are today. A life without any upsets isn’t much of a life at all. Developing the perspective in the moment to be grateful for what this event means for your personal development is an enriching but challenging endeavor.

The difference gratitude makes psychically is enormous, transforming moments of weakness and defeat into moments that teach you the measure of your potential. You can and should start small- a case of sciatica can be seen as your body forcing you to slow down and make time for self-care. Give thanks during dinnertime with a picky toddler for the chance to learn patience. Anyone can give thanks for the good stuff, but do you have the strength to teach yourself to be thankful for the lousy stuff? (Hint- you do.)

Gratitude