July 31, 2012

Craft Your Better Self: Gratitude

a feeling, emotion or attitude in acknowledgement of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

 A lot is said about gratitude. Books, poems, quotes, self-help forums champion the idea of being grateful. Oprah has made a huge living talking about gratitude. She got everyone digging out their 5th grade journals and documenting a daily gratitude log.                                                                          

Oprah once said,  "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
 Seems to have worked for her.

If you know the fundamental concepts of The Secret, Think and Grow Rich or Laws of Attraction then you've been introduced to the unlimited powers having gratitude can unleash.  Being grateful leads to happiness, happiness leads to positive thinking, positive thinking leads to a better life. It's a great vicious cycle!

I appreciate lots of things. Iced coffee in the summer, my boss in a good mood, a sunny day at the lake. I feel guilt if I don't think I'm being grateful enough. If, for example,  I'm not appreciating how much I adore my pets, on a daily if not, minute to minute basis,  I feel guilt.

 "You don't know what you have until it's gone" applies to gratitude. (Whether Freckle or Lil Dude recognize gratitude as being smothered with hugs and kisses is another story)

Recently, I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, which led to a significant emotional reaction. If I still kept my gratitude journal this would have had an entry all to itself, written in bold capital letters with a flower border and stars, all to emphasize its significance.

At a recent birthday party held at our cottage's social hall, my other half Mark, did something so wonderful it drowned all other feelings I was having at the time (The party had a stressful beginning and I felt out of sorts about it.) The social hall is a block or so away from guest parking. That day it was raining beyond rain. Guests trickled in, sopping wet, shoes filled with mud. It was ugly.

Shortly after, Mark disappeared. Looking out the window, I saw him  pulling up in his car, jam packed with guests! Waiting at the entrance of the cottage community, he served as a shuttle, bringing guests, by the car load, trip after trip.

This was all before being able to get himself showered and cleaned up and well after contributing his fair share of help and running around.

The gratitude and love I felt, and feel, for him overwhelmed me. It transformed my mood, renewed my spirit, and reaffirmed all the reasons he is good.  Don't underestimate the powerful impact of gratitude.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. 
-Albert Schweitzer