Hello! My name is Bethany and I blog over at Whistle & Ivy, where I post crafts, recipes and free crochet patterns. I am very excited to be guest posting at Chocolate on my Cranium, and sharing my thoughts on gratitude.
One of the things that I love best about the holiday season is the love and charity that are more avidly expressed. I enjoy the “30 Days of Gratitude” that seem to flood the internet through the month of November. But it always seems to peter off.
As a person who has never lived outside of the United States, I love reading about different cultures and watching documentaries on different lifestyles. I love to witness the perspectives that people who are different from myself have, but I really appreciate getting a glimpse into how people live. I have used this artificial perspective to really become aware of how incredibly lucky I am.
I think about fresh, cool and clean water that is available in two rooms in my home. Imagine for a moment that you fear your child will contract a horrible disease every time they take a drink. You have to choose between disease and dehydration. Horrific. I think about the fact that my parents are married and love each other, that I was raised in a home where I was loved, and not physically, emotionally or sexually abused. I think about the fact that I was given the opportunity to get a job and go to school. Sitting through an awful test, I thought of women in Middle Eastern countries who are punished or even executed for trying to learn to read.
Of course we are all grateful for our families. Children, siblings, spouses and parents bring true joy, and I’m sure everyone agrees that we are grateful for them. But how many times have we snapped at our child’s innocent questions, or gave our spouse the cold shoulder for forgetting to take the garbage out? I know I have done this. I think about how uncomfortable my pregnancy was, and how my son can throw a tantrum that could rival any kid. But during that tantrum, am I thinking about what my life would be like if I lost my child? If I was, I know my actions and my feelings for my child in that particular moment would be different. I had the unfortunate opportunity to witness one of my sisters go through heartbreaking infertility. This was also going on during my pregnancy. And through the uncomfortable times, through the pain and through the sleepless nights, I raised my voice to my God and cried with gratitude that I was given such an opportunity when so many couples are not afforded the same luxury. I also appreciated the opportunity to see my pregnancy as a true blessing. Fortunately, my sister was able to have a child, and I now have a beautiful niece, but this is not the outcome for many couples.
I don’t mean to say that we should dwell on the sadness and heartache that is in this world. But if we took a moment each day to be seriously grateful for all the things we have, especially the small things, we would find that what we have is enough, and that we are happier with how our lives are now. This is especially helpful in times of heartbreaking trials and hardships. Our sufferings are incredibly hard to bear, but if we can look at our lives and remember the good things, we can find happiness even during the hard times.
So here is an assignment for anyone who wishes to be happier and have a consistently grateful heart, not just in November: Pray. Pray with true gratitude for all the things you have been afforded in your life. You will find that you have more things that you can list for which you are grateful for, things that are not normally talked about around the Thanksgiving table.
And if you don’t pray, or you don’t believe in a higher power, make a list. Take two minutes at the end of the day and write down the things that you are grateful for. As someone who has battled with depression, I can tell you that writing and speaking my gratitude out loud have had tremendous impact on my life and my happiness.
So this holiday season, I hope you find true gratitude, that you find happiness in what you have, and you never take the big, or small things for granted.