How Gratitude Keeps Me Present
“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr
We just returned from a mini vacation, and boy, there sure is a lot on which to reflect. My husband and I always take our car ride as an opportunity to assess where we are in life, where we want to be, and how we are going to get there (all of this in between cries for snacks, books, boredom and bathroom needs).
It was such a short time and we had a wonderful time, yet we were all so happy to be home. To have our own beds, be able to do laundry, to shower with my own shampoo. All of these things we, as individuals, take for granted in the hum drum of everyday life. It reminds me to be grateful; for all of the things I do have, and equally, all that I don’t.
Making a gratitude list.
Not unlike many others, there was a period of my life, years ago, that was particularly challenging. One tool I learned during these times was to make a gratitude list. The idea is to every day, make a list of things for which we are grateful. I remember during the harder times, gratitude kept me grounded and I felt grateful for the simplest things, even just brushing my teeth.
Being grateful isn’t just about being thankful for what we have. It is also a daily reminder that we are given one shot at life and to always look for the good, despite how trying the times may be. Being grateful allows us to stay humble, no matter how much or how little we have. It’s all in perspective to something or someone else, so the determination line is simply an ever changing line in the sand. We never know the struggles of others, and we get an idea through empathy, if we have gone through something similar.
It always could be worse.
I know there are people who are facing daily tribulations of finding food, shelter and clothing. Even now, when things seemingly fall into place most days, I find myself remembering how grateful I am. This comes from knowing harder times, and no matter what, it could always be worse. I have a glimpse as to what life could be like, and today, I am grateful for the struggles, for the hard times, as I can appreciate what is in front of me today.
Lastly, gratitude frees the reigns of desire that keep us from enjoying the present. In the fast pace of life these days, the concept of being satisfied right where we are, is sometimes hard to grasp. We are on the quest to do more, be better, acquire a greater standing, at work, at home, through our children. Understanding that life isn’t a race; that there is beauty to be had even in the crummiest days, is truly the greatest acquisition.
Sitting with my kiddos in the early days of summer, I want to freeze these moments in my memory.
I want to hold onto the enormous gratitude I have for each of them, in all their glory and their messiness, their tears and smiles. As they sit, having their glorious pretend tea party, for a moment, I can forget the threat of storms, the looming worries, and the uncertainty of the future that can quietly have this heavy shadow over my serenity.
I can remember that none of the above can take away this moment, right here.
And when I can be grateful, I can stay in this present moment, and take in all of the gifts life has to give, the greatest gift right in front of me – the most spectacular tea party with the best tasting imaginary water one can drink.