A simple enough phrase, but what kind of response does it elicit within you? Agreement? Frustration? Apathy? A sort of “it depends on the situation” reaction? There’s been a lot of really terrible and heart wrenching stuff that has happened as of late…globally and closer to home as well. The world just feels like it’s trembling a bit…waiting for the next bad thing to happen. And given time to really let these negative things sink in, it probably wouldn’t take us too long to feel downtrodden, worried, anxious or depressed.
What is our response? And how can we refuse to be defined by the “crap”? How can we make a difference? Those are hard and big questions to answer! What I do know is that individually we are small but collectively we are bigger and stronger. It’s been on my heart for awhile to do something that would be uplifting and encouraging.
The practice of being grateful is one that has not come naturally for me. Of course I thought I was a thankful girl…but what I didn’t understand was the connection between being grateful and feeling joy. I also didn’t understand how important it was to be grateful EVEN when my circumstances were less than ideal.
These were tidbits that my dear friend Andrea has taught me. Her story is one that we have shared before. Her son Matthew lived 9 short years on this earth and each and every day was filled with pain and suffering and…joy. Through these incredible challenges, Andrea made it a practice to find things to be grateful for each day. She has said that maybe it was out of her desperation that she sought to find things to be grateful for…whether small or big.
Just before his 10th birthday, Matthew’s life here on earth ended. It’s not hard to understand that Andrea stopped her daily practice of voicing her gratitude…she certainly didn’t feel thankful. It was a number of months later that she found herself devoid of joy…and it hit her that the joy she once felt deep within her was gone because she had stopped being grateful.
Andrea shared this story to me quite shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My emotions felt like they had just been charley horsed…does that even make sense? I felt that I was screaming out and God wasn’t hearing me..like I was drowning in fear and anxiety.
It was the day of Lincoln’s Christmas concert and I just didn’t think I could do it..I didn’t feel like I could go in public without losing my crap. It was that morning that Andrea suggested maybe I audibly needed to speak what I was grateful for. It seemed an unlikely antidote for my emotions and yet her journey with Matt and her quiet joy amongst her sadness were undeniable.
Sage advice. As I drove to Lincoln’s school, I literally verbally spoke the entire time…I was thankful for the most random things! I remember thanking God that the garbage cans on the side of the road were black and not green because I thought the green ones were really ugly LOL.
Turning point. It was the beginning of learning that gratefulness is a discipline. There are many MANY days where gratefulness would not be on my top 10 list. But…I began to see it almost as a muscle that I needed to “work out” in order for it to get stronger. And while it is still something that I continue to have to remind myself to practice, there is an unmistakable connection with how it affects my outlook and…my joy.
So what am I trying to accomplish here? Actually that’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a definite answer for that…all I know is that this world could stand to feel encouraged and bolstered. Don’t you think? What if we all started being more purposeful in finding things to be grateful for. Ok, I know we aren’t going to change the world but…I think joy is contagious. And if that holds true, well…we could just be a bright light in a time that might feel otherwise dark to many. Willing to join me?
What if we all made a decision to discipline ourselves to find something to be grateful for every day? For the next 10 days? Could we start there? And let’s just see what effect it has? Starting with our own outlook on life.
So…the challenge is to commit to the Grateful10…commit to practicing being grateful for the next 10 days. If you’re brave enough, share it! Let’s use the hashtag #grateful10…I’d love to see what you’re thankful for and can’t wait to share your posts on my insta stories…that is, if some of you join in with me (fingers crossed!) Kinda ironic as I was writing this post, I realized that we simultaneously have our “be the light” giveaway running over on insta. Feels extremely serendipitous. Be the light.
Hope you all have an awesome weekend and feel gratitude in the most cool way! Laurel xo