Walking home from work this week I got thinking a lot about my life — specifically how far I’ve come in the past few years. And as I reflected, I found myself feeling a deep gratitude for where I am right now. Not because life perfect — because goodness knows, it certainly isn’t — but because regardless of the imperfections, I have many things to be grateful for. Even on the shitty days, which I certainly have plenty of, just like every other person on the planet.
One of the important lessons that I’ve learned in my (gulp) 39 years on this planet is the importance of gratitude. It’s one of those things that more we look for things to be grateful for in our lives, the more we find. I know that it seems like a bunch of new-agey mumbo-jumbo, but it’s true. Ever notice when a day starts off badly, it all seems to just go downhill from there? One stubbed toe getting out of bed can send an entire day down the toilet before it’s barely even started. And because you’ve started off in a bad mood, things like running out of coffee cream, dropping your toast on the floor and getting stuck in traffic seem like even bigger deals than they might be on a day that started off the right foot (that is, a foot without a stubbed toe).
The challenge, of course, is ensuring that we focus on the good stuff so that it feels bigger than the bad stuff. I’m not perfect at it myself, and have many more days than I’d like where I spend far too much time thinking about where my life is lacking, than where it is abundant. It’s a whole lot easier to see when others are doing it. I’m sure we all know at least one person who looks like they’ve got so much going for them, and yet they’re always harping on the things in their life that sucks. It’s maddening to watch, and yet I believe that to some degree, we all do it.
I often tell my girls that the things you pay attention to in your life grow. So if you think a lot about the bad stuff in your life, the bad stuff will feel like a big monster that’s growing bigger and bigger. But if you focus on the good stuff, then pretty soon, that’s all that you think about it. It’s a skill, I think, practicing gratitude. One of those skills that’s much easier if you learn it early in life.
I need this reminder right now. That although there are some things in my life that aren’t perfect, there are many, many things to be grateful for. There are always things to be grateful for in any situation … if you just go looking for them.