“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
There’s a part of me that feels like gratitude is territory belonging to the yoga practicing, green-smoothie drinking, kale eating tribe among us. It’s for those who seem to have their life under control. Their gratitude even comes with an Instagram filter, staged photos with life’s mess and chaos neatly cropped out. It often feels trite and airy-fairy.
It’s something I want to distance myself from.
But then I re-read Melody Beattie’s words and I feel as though gratitude is a deep well of which I’ve only had a tiny sip.
- the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
I’m hungry for a life flooded with gratitude. I believe that much of the peace and contentment I seek is found on the other side of thankfulness.
Yet even as I write these words I feel frustrated, angry, tired…
Is a lifestyle of authentic gratitude even sustainable?
Am I going to turn into someone who refuses to see the reality in a situation and drives everyone around me away with my Pollyanna-like-disillusionment?
Is this just a fad? Is this my ‘gratitude phase’?
Can I even do this? Am I setting myself up for failure?
I do the sums over and over again in my head and each time all paths lead to gratitude.
I’ve learnt that gratitude breeds gratitude. Once I start being thankful for the things and people around me a momentum builds in my heart and the deep sense of awe takes on a life of its own. I walk through my day feeling overwhelmed and humbled by all the treasures I find.
Gratitude is alive. It breathes in me. In a way it’s frightening. I can feel the force of it soaking into my life.
And still I betray gratitude over and over again. Kick it far from me when I don’t want to be thankful, I want to hold onto my bitterness – when pain is somehow more appealing that joy.
It’s a struggle at times – like eating my vegetables – it’s good for me but I don’t always crave the challenge that gratitude brings.
And still it seeps into my bones. I catch myself off guard hunting beauty. It’s as though now I’ve let gratitude in, it’s refusing to leave – I can’t help but see the hidden delights and be thankful.
I’m learning that in gratitude demands humility…and I think that’s the real struggle I’m fighting here.
[Art by Kelsey Oseid]