A neighbor of mine died suddenly (another one). He was 45. He truly was a bright light — giving, cultured, dedicated to non-profit work — with two young children. It is such a reminder to let each day be lived with some measure of gratitude. My brother is an ER doctor and has daily, often gruesome, reminders that he has plenty to be thankful for. My sister lives on SSDI and counts days when she has food and shelter as good ones.
I, however, live among the affluent and get caught in the ‘comparison game’.
Would I be happier in Waltham or Watertown, where blue collar families predominate? Alternatively, why can’t I live right here and not get hung up on the differences? The whole Power Ball drama brought this up this week. It was fun to make a list — new couch, new towels, two new cars, repaired stoop, painted living room ceiling (by a CONTRACTOR), relief from worry about college tuition, insulated basement studio… It was less fun to notice how few of the people I know would have to win the lottery to get these things.
To wake up each day and say, “ah…… thank you for another day” would be a giant improvement. Everybody — from Oprah to Buddhist monks to Deepak Chopra to anyone you can name with a book about the five (or six, or seven) keys to happiness — recommends it: a gratitude practice.
So what am I grateful for in this moment? I’m grateful for the snow falling down, the smell of soup on the stove, coffee – always coffee, Jack sleeping at my feet (snoring just a little bit), a movie to watch for later, my cyber-community, friends who call, friends to walk with, a good book to finish for book group tomorrow, book group, Christmas and how much I love baking for it, shopping for it, decorating for it, a neighbor turning one years old this week showing that there is always new life, too, chocolate, a fireplace, my camera, my threads, a healthy family, family – period, my cashmere sweater (I know where to find them for $10!!), my wool socks, the smell of balsam, this energized rat terrier making me smile…. for having time to create.
What are YOU grateful for today? And more, how do you keep yourself feeling grateful? Do you keep a journal? Pray? How do you intervene with you notice that you are feeling sour or downtrodden?
i try to practice living in the moment and i’m grateful for each moment i’m given. meditation has been my form of prayer for almost 40 years. i don’t usually get to ‘feeling sour or downtrodden’. it happens sometimes when i’m around negative or judgmental people so i try to avoid that. Eckhart Tolle says: “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it”.
Dee, I keep a journal (which, by the way I dont do daily entries although that is my intention). I find it’s a time when I think about things I am grateful for, where I write positive quotes that I find in books, on the internet, when visiting peoples blogs.
It creates a sort of awareness…when you stop and jot a few things down. Sometimes I even just cut/tear a few images from magazines that appeal, that are beautiful colours, that make me happy.
I lost both my parents when I was quite young, so I like to make the most of each moment. Materially I might not have much, but I have lots of other things that make up for that …. friends, close family ties, travel to beautiful places, special blogging friends … so much to be grateful for.
a this moment I’m grateful I tuned in and read your post. You are indeed “living the questions.”
deanna – great quote by Tolle. It reminds me of Byron Katie who said, “I never met a money problem that wasn’t a thinking problem.”
Jackie – thanks for your note… I journal too, but not enough of it is light or about collecting beauty… I need to change that.
ali – thanks. it’s been a good day, here.
oh good questions Dee! you are brave!
gratefulness? to face whatever each day brings & try to make something of it, even the saddest darkest days have a hard beauty that needs to be felt and understood, that’s where the blues come from ahe?
journaling? I scribble notes and sketch down dreams & ideas throughout the day & night, my sketch book is always within easy reach in my shoulder bag
prayers? the hopeful things with feathers go out into the world
& on those cruel days when the fears creep in & my tongue lashes out… as soon as that happens I pull myself up hard, look at those thoughts straight in the eye and work out what the heck is really going on… usually it’s just some old wound in disguise, sort it out, then send it on it’s way… for the really sticky ones I write them down, fold them into a paper boat and send them off to sea…
anxiety? I finally missed the flight one morning in 2009 that the recurring anxiety dreams had been worrying about for so many years… I was waiting in the wrong departure lounge sketching airplanes whilst my flight took off, missed the boarding call totally ! big lesson… the cool thing is I never have that dream any more!
& hmmm… the fear of being naked in public well I nailed that one only last Thursday, ha!
Mo – I am going to write portions of that comment down and stick them near my screen… I have a “God Jar” that needs resurrecting as well – inside it are scrolls of paper with problems, seemingly intractable ones, written on them and given over.
I can reflect easily and I think with a certain amount of self-awareness — it’s the ‘sending it on its way’ part that hangs me up. I love the idea of the paper boat. Going to your link, now.
I’ll be you never dream about being naked in public again, either!!! I still smile thinking about you, capturing the moon, communing with the moon, naked, locked out of her house!!!!!
Mo – may I share that photo from the Solstice 2009 sometime between now and this year’s solstice?
grateful; hmmm. i’m grateful for my house; for getting my house in order this year, and getting lots of work done on it; for creating a studio out my garage; for feeling i’ll survive the winter; for the recovery from an operation of one of my cats; for my health; for love; for creativity; for walking; for friends; for food; for life. a big thank you to the universe, for all the gifts.
Beautiful post, Dee. Truth is, I seem to always live in the ying and yang of being grateful and ungrateful. I try not to take my blessings for granted, yet I feel unrest or frustration on a daily basis, (often over insignificant stuff) which causes me to utter complaint(s), (silently or spoken) and then I immediately see the flip side of it, which humbles me, and gives me a reason to pause and express my profound gratitude. It’s a constant learning process. Two steps forward, one step back.
I’m not a church going person, and am uncomfortable with organized religion… but I pray many prayers of thanks and simple gratitude through out the day, and I ask for much forgiveness for my short-term memory and easily exasperated personality. I am deeply appreciative for God’s seemingly unending patience, because I must wear it very thin sometimes!
Jan – a nice list, that… I especially like the gratitude for ‘getting yr house in order this year’. thanks for commenting.
Victoria, thank you for such a revealing comment. I really get a sense of you reading it, and that will enrich visits to your blog going forward.
Thanks, Dee. “…never the situation, but the thoughts about it.” I like that, too.
I find I use my journal to vent, rather than to express gratitude. So there’s a 2013 resolution. Enjoy the season.
I´m grateful for so many things … at the moment I´m grateful that I have my family and everybody is healthy and to have another grandchild next year.
i stopped keeping a journal two years ago. I only wrote in difficult times and once when I read all this it made me sad because I didn´t want that this would be the essence of my life because I didn´t write a word in good times. So now I make a short note what happened nearly every day – but it would be a good idea to note why I can be grateful on this day.
The good thing in becoming older is for me to be able to enjoy the moment and sometimes I am totally pleased and comfortable.
Love that Dog!! Love this post!!
grateful for: dinner with the boys and listening to their stories, my studio, walks with the dog,talks with my friends, good food, tea and coffee, having discovered blog-world; don’t keep a journal (apart from my blog) do make notes and doodle on everything
Dee, you’re a good woman! You make me feel guilty though cause I always feel I should be more grateful and less grumbly, but I am always grumbly at this time of year. I find that resentful hits me a lot more often than gratitude.
I do much better with writing goals, than thank you notes but I am grateful that the forced false festive Hallmark Christmas will be over in 23 days and the much preferred new years, new leaf will follow right behind. Maybe my goal for 2013 will be to practice saying thank you to the universe instead of giving it the pffft of an ingrate. : – )
I believe a gratitude practice can include things like: I am grateful for my grumpiness. This time of year can be stressful, not just for the usual reasons, but also because of the pressure to feel something other than what we feel.
There was a time when I found everything I was writing in my journal was negative so I decided to write something I was grateful for every day. Did that for a year. It is now one of my favorite journals to go back to read. Today I am thankful for my knitting, it reminds me to stay in the moment and that continuing leads to creating… And I am grateful you asked the question.
Do you still jot a positive thing a day, Deb? Or is life different now, requiring less negativity on the page?
it is so easy to get caught up in self during our day to day activities. the buddhist monks high in their mountain monasteries and caves, completely removed from the entanglements of daily life have no idea how amazing it is for us “normal” folk down here in our towns and cities to remain in the moment and maintain our balance. it is easy to remain present when you have nothing to do but look at the clear sky or stare at the blank wall of your cell or cave. but to be present while changing a screaming kid’s (or elder’s) diaper, driving in rush hour traffic, or mingling in a noisy nightclub…now there’s a feat of absolute amazement!
i try not to engage too much in the “activities” that are meant to keep us present (journals, wish jars, etc.) as a means to keep me present. that is not to say that i don’t journal, etc….only to say that i don’t impress upon the activity the outcome of being present, because then you are no longer being present but looking to being present some time in the future once you finish x number of entries, mantras, etc.
instead, i try to focus on one task at a time. it is very difficult to be present and aware when we are multi-tasking. how can you be fully present when you are doing a dozen things at once? not to say that it is impossible only that i cannot do it. so, whether i am journalling, or baking bread, or walking down the street, i stay as present as i can be on that one task/adventure. it is simply amazing how gratifying something can be when you are present to it!!
there is truly only the now of each moment! the past is gone and the future has yet to appear.
No, I don’t feel the need to write something every day anymore, I actually don’t even journal every day as I used too, only when I want to remember something or if I need to think something out as writing helps me do that. It really did help me break a habit that I was falling into during a difficult time in my life though.