It’s not easy to be intentionally grateful these days. There are so many blessings that we don’t appreciate the way we should or are disguised by our ungracious hearts. We go about our days thinking about what we COULD have instead of what we DO have. We dwell on something NEGATIVE that happened versus rejoicing in something POSITIVE. I’ll be the first to say that I’m SO guilty of this. It took a conversation with a good friend and constant reminders and encouragement from my husband to change my sometimes pessimistic and unappreciative mindset.
A few months ago, I was chatting with one of my good friends. She was telling me about something she was doing every morning– before she got out of bed, she would write down three things she’s grateful for. She explained that it really helped her to start the day on a more positive note and encouraged me to try it too. This idea weighed on my heart for some time and after a frustrating day at work I decided I was going to give it a shot.
So, for seven days in a row, I wrote down three things that I am grateful for. I wanted to start each day with a grateful heart. I’ll be honest, the first couple days were difficult. It was hard to take time and be still to think of things that weren’t simple and cliché – like family, friends, a home, a job, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for those things, but I wanted to dig a little deeper and push myself to think hard about what it is in life that I’m most grateful for. As the week went on, each morning became a little bit easier and I was finding that I could easily jot down three things. By the end of seven days, I had a list of over twenty-one blessings that has continued to grow.
When reviewing my list at the end of the week, something jumped out at me. Most of the things I am grateful for are intangible and priceless. There are so many people, situations, and ideas that I am thankful for – and those can’t be bought. It made me realize that in a world where money equals success and so much value is placed on the outward appearance, money simply can’t replace the most wonderful blessings that we’ve been given. I wouldn’t trade my list of blessings for ANY amount of money. That being said, I want to share some of my favorite blessings with you:
- Relationships and Connections: Relationships with my family, friends, and patients. How I have been shaped by and continue to grow in those relationships. For the things that each person does for me. Also, random connections that have turned into great resources.
- My husband and his communication: First of all, having a loving, caring, and encouraging husband. He’s the BEST! Unfortunately, at this point in our marriage, we are separated because of his career in the Navy. We will be reunited soon but his communication with me (and our daughter) has been so wonderful throughout our time apart and has kept our relationship going strong.
- Surprises: I’m not one that enjoys surprises but have learned to appreciate them – both good and not so good. Everything happens for a reason.
- Baby Sounds: My daughter’s giggles make me smile, babbles are her way of starting to communicate happy thoughts, and her cries can be extremely frustrating. Through all of the sounds, sweet or sad, I am beyond blessed to have such a precious, healthy, baby girl in my life and she doesn’t let me forget it!
- Thunderstorms and rainbows: All creation is beautiful and a great reminder of an even greater Creator, but I love a good thunderstorm that ends in a rainbow!
- Power toothbrush: I love that it gives me that “just had my teeth cleaned” feeling every time. Plus, it helps keep my mouth healthy AND sparkling!
These are just a few of the many things I have gained an increased appreciation for. I’m still a work in progress, we all are! Sometimes it’s hard to take a step back, slow down and have a grateful heart. Through this experience, I’ve definitely gained a more appreciative attitude and optimistic outlook!
Let me ask you this, when was the last time you sat down and consistently reflected on a few of the many things you have to be grateful for? – Thanksgiving doesn’t count! It’s probably been a while. Being grateful is something that we should practice daily but it takes time and effort to make this practice a habit.
If you’ve been reading this and feel something tugging at your heart or you’ve been nodding your head thinking “Yeah, that’s me too. I need to work on that”, I want to challenge you. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning and you start worrying about everything coming your way that day, grab your phone (or go old school with a pen and paper) and write down three things you are grateful for. Do it for 7 days. Be intentional and be thoughtful. If you need some accountability, share your three things with a friend. You could even encourage them to walk through this experience with you. Once the seven days are over, you’ll also have a great start to a long list of the wonderful blessings in your life.
Life is a beautiful roller-coaster full of ups and downs. Only YOU can decide what YOU make of it. Celebrate the up days and add something from that day to your list. On the down days, take a look back at all of the things you have on your grateful list. I hope it gives you an instant mood boost, gets you through a tough situation, and helps you keep a more appreciative attitude. Always remember how truly blessed you are!