For about 7 months now I've been on a path of true gratefulness. Trying to put all my focus and appreciation on what I have instead of what I still want. What if when you woke up today, your life was stripped of everything you have. The only things that would remain would be what you were truly grateful for and showed appreciation for yesterday. What would you have left?
Would you still have everything you have in your life? Would all the material things be the same? Would all your relationships remain? Would all those you say you love, still be here. At any given time in my life, you could come and ask me what I wanted and I had a running list on my notes app or shopping cart somewhere on my phone. I was always working and waiting till my next allowance to get something new from the list. There's always the bigger house, the more luxurious car, the designer purses and clothes, the latest gadgets, and accessories. But what happens when we get those things? Do we truly find happiness? As soon as one want is fulfilled something else replaces it on the list. We find ourselves in this constant cycle of needing to fulfill these wants that we lose the opportunity to simply enjoy and truly be grateful for what we already have. How much stress do we add to our lives simply chasing these things instead of living our lives with a grateful heart?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a working progress. I still want things and I still put things on a list, but now I approach them differently. I leave things on my shopping list for over a month before I purchase to ensure it’s something I truly want and I try to give something else that I have away. I try to reach out to those I love more, even if it’s a simple meme that says I’m thinking of you.
Being grateful has helped me through many difficult times in my life. Situations where I felt sad and defeated. I remember there were many times in the grieving process of missing my parents that my focus was heavy on the loss. I missed them dearly and just had a really hard time being positive. Then I had to remember that although my parents are gone, I can be grateful for the memory of them. I can put the focus on the love we shared and the impact they made in my life. I can be grateful because many children in the world today don’t get to experience a love like theirs. Many go through life without any parents at all, longing for a family of their own. Only when I started being grateful for the time, we did share did some of the pain and darkness I felt, start to change. I was able to take that and allow their memories to fuel me positively. Now when I get in that feeling, I try to think of a memory I’m most grateful for with them and I share it. I either call a sibling or cook their favorite meal and I try to turn the moment into one of gratefulness.
I remember someone asking me how do I do it? I couldn’t do this military spouse life. My response was simply, I do it with a grateful heart. I’m grateful for the love that my husband and I share. Even in the years where I may only get to see him for a few months that year. I’m grateful to have a partner that believes in honor and service and has the drive that he does. Yes, this life has it’s challenges but it has so much to be grateful for as well. And as I go into my 17th year of being a military spouse, I can say that the more time and energy you spend on what you’re grateful for vs. what’s wrong, the better it will be for you and your spouse. I’m sure my husband would have appreciated me having this attitude change over a decade ago.
I’ve been through a life faced with many obstacles, grief, and pain, yet I am grateful for the opportunity to still be here. Grateful for my family and friends. Grateful for my loving husband and miracle baby girl. Grateful for a loving and caring heart that allows me to be there for others in ways I wanted to have others be there for me.
When things are good in your life, being grateful is easy. We post, we praise, we celebrate. But it’s the ability to be grateful when things are going bad in your life that’s most impactful. Being grateful has brought me peace during the most difficult of times and has allowed me to find light in moments of darkness.
Take a moment everyday and simply list the things and people you are grateful for in your life, reach out to them. Force your mind to focus on everything that’s good now, no matter how bad you may feel. Although there may be areas in your life where you want more or better, still be grateful for the now because it could be worse. Do that everyday and watch things change.