It’s all well and good for me to tell you that I want a gratitude that’s a living thing, planted, and deep-rooted, and making a contribution to my life rather than just being saccharine noises of do-goodiness, or a fierce determination between gritted teeth that uses all my energy (although I do have the latter – I call it my stubborn streak.) That’s a bit like telling you chocolate is nice because it doesn’t taste like bananas. (Me and bananas are not friends.) So I thought I would add some thoughts on it what gratitude can look like when it floats around our heads and hearts.
You know that moment when your heart squeezes up with joy and you cannot believe you were given a yard of chocolate for Christmas? (Okay, maybe that’s just me.) To be frank, I put this one first because it’s the one we all know. The appreciation of a nice gift, or when somebody comes and visits you in hospital, or you are given a heartfelt compliment. The things that just happen and you can’t help but say “thank you.” Or the things that don’t happen and you can’t help but say thank-you.
I said previously that gratitude is reflective, and the gratitude of pleasure (or sometimes relief!) is the gratitude of the present tense. The now moment, or the thing that has just happened. It brings a bounce to your step and joy to your heart. It makes you happy.
But sometimes, in the moment, we look around and there’s nothing that immediately screams gratitude. There’s laundry and mess and too much month and not enough money and the boss keeps on saying you did it wrong. And trying to find a place of gratitude in the middle of that is a bit like trying to find underwear on a nudist beach.
And we want to keep it real, but we want to be grateful too, even though everything inside is screaming that there is nothing, not one thing, to be grateful for.
Oh, the pressure. But gratitude is not supposed to be about pressure. (I can’t win! I can’t win! I can’t win! Make up your mind, Rox, what are you on about?)
Simply this. Sometimes, we need to look back and see how far we have come. Even if the journey ahead seems a million miles, and we have only moved an inch. Progress is still progress. We have loved. We have learned. We have tried. We have failed, but we have also succeeded. And the very desire to want to be grateful is something to be grateful for. Maybe that’s all gratitude is – a willingness to be grateful for who we are, what we have, where we have been and where we are going.
But Rox, you don’t know me, you say. Being grateful for who I am is not a possibility. I swore at a baby yesterday just so I could laugh at the mother’s reaction.
My response is always this, if you are willing to try, you have something to be grateful for. Gratitude for a new day. Gratitude for a heart that say “I want to be better than this.” Gratitude for the potential for love that resides within your heart.
And for the rest of us, who don’t go around swearing at babies to laugh at their parents’ reactions, the future is a reason for gratitude. Because there is one. Because we can try. And even if we fail, we can try again, but differently. So even if your present and your past are utterly forgettable, you have potential. You have a story. You have a way to make the future a better place. And gratitude is a great place to start.
I realise that these three points seem to contradict my point about just being grateful, rather than being grateful for things, but gratitude is bigger than that, I think. I’m only at the beginning of my journey. I do hope you will stay along for the ride.