Sunny skies. Bread and Nutella. Spending time with friends.
That is what pops up most often on my daily gratitude list. Some days back, a dear friend suggested that we share with each other five things that have made us grateful, every day. She’s the kind of friend I tend to say “yes” to, so I did. And this Thanksgiving, I would like to thank her, hand on my heart, for making that suggestion.
Choosing to be grateful makes you happier. Gratitude can be difficult when life is difficult. If you are stuck in your own misery, it may seem impossible to look for things to be grateful about. Perhaps the secret is not to search for the big “aha” of gratitude, but simply to be thankful for what is present in the moment. Sunshine on a cold day. Your cheery yellow umbrella on a wet day.
Have you noticed that we don’t often pause? Life is a high-speed train of scenes flashing by, and no stations. No sooner do we achieve one goal (whether it is a project at work, or doing the dishes at home), we are off chasing another. I’ve been practicing taking a pause between tasks. Just a moment to close your eyes, feel your feet on the ground, breathe in and be grateful that you have accomplished that one thing, at least, today. I love driven people (I might be known as one myself), but I feel sad for the ones who fail to take the time to feel the joy of being driven.
In the aftermath of the Paris, Beirut and Mali attacks, and the Syrian refugee crisis, I see friends and acquaintances be horrified, stressed, fearful. It is only natural, in a world where faceless villains want to wipe you out for reasons you could not understand if you tried for a hundred lifetimes. One may argue that those villains live and die in a hell of their own making, in a world full of their own meaningless hatred. But that does not make it easy to feel compassion for them. One may hear the words of the Paris mother, “You have taken my son. But you may not have my hate.” But it does not make it possible to love the villains. We want to do something to make this world a better place, a safer place. We have so many fights to be in, from terrorism to human rights to climate change. Despite that (or perhaps, because of that) I say, take a moment between battles to be grateful today. To enjoy turkey at the family table. Or possibly to enjoy a quiet day off by yourself. To give thanks. For no-one knows what tomorrow will bring.