Gratitude: (noun) The state of being grateful, thankfulness.
For 2008, I chose gratitude as my word of the year. Why gratitude? Well, as the youngest of five children, I admit that many things in life came easily to me. In a nutshell, I was spoiled. Receiving the things one wants may indeed be a blessing. Getting things without appreciating them is another. And sometimes, when things come easily, you come to expect them.
Over the last couple of years, I started to ask why I was so blessed when others seemed to struggle. Did I make a left turn when someone else took a right? Was this part of some divine plan that I was completely unaware of? I found myself asking more questions than I had answers.
At the beginning of the year I took part in Christine Kane’s Great Big Dreams Seminar online. It was during the Great Big Dreams Seminar that I learned about Christine’s Word of the Year blog post. Instead of making (and breaking) New Year’s resolutions, Christine suggests people choose a word for the year. The word you choose guides you throughout the year. Ironically, during her seminar, Christine took one day to discuss gratitude and expanded upon it to include gift and gains.
When I first worked with gratitude, I naturally thought about the big and immediate things that happened in my life: receiving a wholesale order, the consignment paycheck that came in the mail, a loving relationship, a home cooked meal. But once those “obvious” items were acknowledged, I found myself pausing and reflecting on my daily activities.
And it was through these reflective moments that I learned to appreciate those little things that happen each day. Those events that typically pass us by because we are too busy to notice.
Sometimes it was something that seemed silly, like having a pair of warm socks on a cold day. Other days it was something beautiful in nature, such as watching a red tail hawk ride the thermals or the deer standing by the side of the road, pausing before running into the woods. Conversations with friends and family became more important. I found myself more interested in going to new events or gatherings simply for the opportunity to meet new people…all because I was grateful to have been given the opportunity.
Through reflection I learned to be grateful for both the material and non-material things in life. It taught me to pause, to observe, to listen, to be. Is it possible to be grateful for gratitude?
Last night I was paging through my gratitude journal. I smiled as I read various entries and how they’ve changed during the course of the year; from sounding like a list of achievements (scooped the litter box, submitted a show application, paid a credit card bill) to more detailed observations (watching a bird bathe in the bird bath, listening to bird songs in the morning, the purr of the cats) to some combination of both.
Some days writing my list is easier than on other days. Some days I struggle to find the gratefulness. And those are usually the days when I plow through life, not taking the time to be, to observe, to listen, if only for a few moments. The word gratitude has taught me to appreciate life and all that it gives me. It has taught me awareness and acceptance and to be humble.
Yes, for gratitude I am thankful.