Gratitude is something that I practice on a regular basis and something that I try to share with the people I’m closest to as well as the seniors that I educate. It’s so easy to let a bad day take us over to the point where we may feel very little gratitude. I lived my life like this for many years. About 10 years ago, many things changed in my life for the better. I learned how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. I learned how to see good in the worst situations and I learned that if I could just be grateful for one little thing each day, it would help me look forward to the next one. This is a practice that took many years to learn how to do. Some days were harder than others. Day by day (and some days, even minute to minute) I learned how to lead with an attitude of gratitude.
We talk about what we are thankful for each Thanksgiving, and usually I have found that the things people are most thankful for are their friends, their family or their health. For me, I had to look deeper than that. I had a black cloud following me that I allowed to weigh me down in everything that I did. I needed to look closer at the things I have and less on the things I did not. I watched a few friends of mine live their lives the same way. One day, I identified that a friend was always thinking negative and this is why bad things always happen to her. I shared this with her and while doing so, I realized it is exactly the way that I lived my life and that was the moment I knew I had to make some changes.
For some, some days, the only thing that they are thankful for is that they woke up that day. Well if that is the only thing you can be thankful for that day, than you be thankful for that. But I urge you to look at some things just a little closer.
Tonight, as I put my five year old to bed, I let him know that as a family we all would be filling out a piece of paper with what we are grateful for on Thanksgiving and that I would help him to write his. His response was, “Mommy, I know what I’m thankful for!” So I asked him to share them with me. Here is what he shared.
- “I’m thankful that my Mommy and Daddy love me.”
- “I’m thankful for my LEGOs.”
- “I’m thankful that we have a house that is warm inside when it’s cold outside.”
- “I’m thankful that I have SO many cousins.”
- “I’m thankful we have a car that can get us places.”
- “I’m thankful we have food to eat.”
- “I’m thankful that I have my new cozy bed to sleep in.”
His responses were so simple. So genuine. He was truly thankful for these things he mentioned. My response to him was, “I’m thankful for all of those things, too.” Because I am thankful I have family that loves me. I’m thankful I enjoy coming home to my house every day. There was a time I would want to be anywhere but home. I’m thankful that Jacob has so many cousins, because I didn’t grow up with one cousin. I’m thankful for my car. It is my place of solitude and my mobile office. Some of my best ideas happen while driving. I’m thankful that I can buy and prepare healthy food for our family. I’m thankful for my bed that I sleep in every night. Truth be told, I’m even thankful for LEGOs because of the HOURS of joy it brings my boy, which allows me to get other things done in the house. The point is, let’s look at this 5 year old. He didn’t have a hard time finding things to be thankful for in his life. He didn’t even think about it that hard. He didn’t try to find things he was thankful for. He just told me what these things were with a little smile on his face.
As we age, sometimes we think about things a little too hard. It doesn’t have to be that hard. Let’s simplify this process of thinking positive and finding gratitude in our every day. When all things seem as if they are crashing down around you, look outside of yourself. At the worst point in my life, I was playing acoustic shows for different fundraisers and benefits around the Jersey Shore area. Giving back to those in need or who needed kind gestures that were down and out. When I didn’t have it in me to do something kind for myself or get in touch with the positive things in my life, I did for others. Which brought some positive back into my life. This has been my saving grace through the years and a practice that I still follow today. Lead with kindness. Give to others. It will come back to you in some way. Whether it’s building a stronger relationship, being able to feel good about something you have done or some other reason more personal to you, sometimes you have to put positive things out to the universe to be able to receive them or be able to see them in yourself.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to find things you are thankful for, but you cannot use the words “family”, “health” or “friends”. Keep it simple and share with us what you are thankful for. Be specific. Identify it. Feel it in your heart for just a moment. That positive feeling for that fleeting second may make you smile on a day or even a moment that you were otherwise feeling down. Maybe write them in a journal or put them in a jar like we are doing on Thanksgiving in my family. Maybe share them where you see this blog posted. If you feel you have nothing to be thankful for this holiday or ANY day, try sharing an act of kindness with someone who is need or a friend or neighbor who is feeling down. Simplify what it is to be thankful and whatever you do, don’t think too hard about it. You might be pleasantly surprised.