When I was a child I was taught to say grace before meals, say “thank you,” and to say my prayers. I’m sure many other children were reared in the same way. I carried those practices with me once I left home for college. I also thought I would be greeted by people who practiced the same things. Surprise. I wasn’t.
The fact is I was so grateful to get into a college and have a way to pay for it, that I knew how lucky I was. It really hit me hard when I saw how many people took such a great opportunity for granted. As the years went by I became disgruntled and took less time to give thanks for all that was going right in my life. That probably had to do with the many things that seemed to be wrong: bad relationships, parents’ divorce, mother’s mental illness, my own insecurities. I would give thanks when I was doing well, but I would brood when I wasn’t.
Almost ten years have gone by since I graduated college and began my life. I have had some crazy ups and downs and now I see that gratitude should be a daily practice; not an every-once-and-awhile endeavor.
As I teach my children to say grace and say “thank you,” I find myself saying “thank you” to whatever God/Spirits are keeping me. Thank you for waking me this morning. Thank you for the food I served. Thank you for this coffee. Thank you for the little money we have to pay bills. Thank you for my sons’ smiles. Thank you for giving me a husband to argue with. Thank you for giving me the courage and audacity to build my own studio and work to make a living by teaching on my terms. Thank you for sending my husband a job lead. It goes on and on.
To whomever is reading this, I challenge you to take time during your day to show gratitude. Don’t ask for anything. Just say thank you. Appreciate the positive things in the world around you. Show kindness to the people you interact with. Don’t be afraid to give. I bet you’ll reap the benefits of having a strong gratitude practice.