Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Openly Grateful

I remember someone once suggesting I silence myself from my openly expressing my gratitude over what I felt grateful for.

Whether it was the weather, the ability to pay my bills or my good fortune over a relatively easy experience with parenthood (my third time around).

I can't remember what my misdemeanor was, but I was advised "Don't jinx yourself" on more than one occasion.

It was six years ago when that phrase resonated within my thoughts enough to write it down. Six years later, it still rings true in my mind.

I think of those who advised me not to jinx myself by not being openly grateful. Is it a coincidence that some of these people are the same people who seem to have a recurring cycle of negative things happening within their life?

I recently ran into one who advised me not to speak openly of my gratitude. We stopped in the middle of the grocery store and the world around us stopped spinning as we each answered the question "How have you been since we last spoke?"

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Her life was a little bit of the "same old dirt, different pile" kind of story. And in a round about way, so was mine.

Since life took us in two different directions, I tried a new career path, didn't like it and returned to where I was happiest. If you look at me now and compare me to the person I was six years ago, one would assume I hadn't changed a bit.

It is amazing what outer appearances do not reveal until you dig a little deeper.

I admit that I do not know the inside scoop of her story either but the feeling I walked away with is that her life is relatively unchanged. Or moreso, her reaction to it.

But do you know what? I have the feeling that she may have thought the same about me.

Do you know what is even better than that? I am so incredibly grateful that the events of the tough years I endured between then and now hasn't jaded me. I am still openly grateful. I believe gratitude is key for me.

Positive words and thoughts beget positive reactions. Maybe not each and every time but if I internalize the negative in a positive way, I don't walk away from a negative experience feeling like it has brought me down. I feel empowered because I have learned something life changing or empathy or simply a reminder that the prescription on my rose colored glasses needs to be updated from time to time.

When I listen to someone who is holding onto a grudge or can't seem to get past a broken heart I understand there is a process that needs to take place. A person needs to feel, live and express their hurt, anger and frustration, before you can get to a place where your heart feels mended enough to take the lesson learned from your personal crisis and be courageous enough to carry on.

I'm grateful that life taught me that answers don't always come easy. But when they do eventually arrive in their own way and in their own time, your heart is so very much happier when you can take the lesson and release the pain.

Easier said than done. I can still feel the pain of my life lessons when I think hard enough. But if I focus on gratitude, the lesson starts to take precedence over the hurt.

You simply cannot lose by being grateful. I tend to want to sing it from the rooftops. Not because I want to brag about my good fortune. I don't. It is just that I tend to believe that I can't attract positive in my life if I am focused on the negative.

I tend to be grateful over little things. Waking up to a predictable little life that basically goes according to plan is one of my life's biggest blessings.

Waking up to a day where I need to work at making things happen to get beyond a particular problem or challenge is hard. Taking those necessary first steps to overcome the issue at hand is even harder.

But do you know what? The moment I take one step in a forward direction, the weight starts to lessen. Even when that step doesn't take me where I need to go, I know that forward in any direction is better than sitting still and becoming paralyzed with the emotion of the moment.

Fear, hurt, anger, heartache, grief, worry, frustration (to name only a few) have the ability to incapacitate me.

Fear is a big one for me. I am quite literally afraid of most things. But the moment I turn on the lights and reveal that there is no monster lurking under my bed after all, I become more empowered.

Turn on the lights. Look under your bed. Take one small step in any direction. Pat yourself on the back for doing hard things. Express gratitude often.

Focus on what is going right. Even if it feels like everything else is going wrong. Be openly grateful for the smallest of things.

Rinse and repeat daily. Do your best. It may not solve everything but if it gets you through one hard minute at a time, it is worth a shot.

Remind me of this in a few months when the sun stops waking me up in the morning, okay?

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