Shifting to an Attitude of Gratitude

What does it mean to have an attitude of gratitude? To live life thankfully and humbly? These catch phrases pop up frequently this time of year on social media, on mugs, and fire place mantels all over the country. But what does it mean? It has to be more than a gratitude practice throughout the month of November right? I have been one to shy away from what I felt were forced or overly timed shows of thankfulness through the season. I do look back though and realize that I started my own gratitude practice years ago centered around one thing, the way I woke up.

As with most things with me, this development doesn’t start out with an intentional action to improve but with me realizing that my own crazy was going to drag me under. I woke up every day for about a week, crabby. Like, really crabby. My alarm went off before anyone else’s and I was sure my kids would be bears in the morning, I would be running late, and my husband would be no help. I knew that when I got home I’d have yelling hungry kids and a husband with something else that needed to be done. I was someone I had no interest in talking to before I had even stepped out of my bed, and no one else had even opened their eyes! I was starting my day assuming that everything was going wrong and then trying to use my afore mentioned positive attitude (to read about how I accidentally learned to be positive click here) to pull me out of it. That is a lot of pressure to put on an attitude. I would steadily improve throughout the work day, a meeting would go well or a project would make progress but I was setting myself up to fail and my family was taking the brunt of it.

Because all of my hostility toward the world was starting with me waking up, I resolved to not get out of bed until I said a prayer of gratitude. I admit it started passive aggressively, I would pray things like I’m so thankful that I only had to get up twice last night and Thank you for allowing me to have a husband who trusts me to take care of alllll of the things (cute huh). It was like a way to complain but with using the word thankful in it. Funny thing though with those annoying, forced gratitude lists, they do stick with you and you do tend to change your own mind in speaking them, writing them, or even intentionally thinking them. You start to train yourself to be more thankful and grateful even for those passive aggressive things. Eventually, they turned more into, Thank you for allowing me extra snuggles with my little dudes. This time is so short and I’ll take all the time I can get. and I’m so thankful for the things my husband does around the house, things I don’t even have to think about or consider on my plate. Now some of my frustrations were legitimate, however coming at it with a heart of gratitude greatly impacted my perspective and ability to influence it.

A particularly irritating incident where he was asked to clean up but managed to just get out more toys.
So thankful these little dudes are loved by so many to have this many stuffies as gifts.

Fast forward a few years and this ‘practice’ is going strong. Not only do I continue to say a prayer of gratitude every morning but by doing so it has permeated my entire life. I now can’t seem to do anything without recounting a bit of gratitude. Go to the grocery store, so thankful I don’t have to worry about the prices. Scrub the shower floor, blessed to have been able to build the shower I wanted. House is too noisy, so thankful we have a basement to send the kids down to play where at least there is a buffer for the shouting. In a meeting with someone who is particularly grating on my nerves, grateful I have control over my emotions and reactions to redirect the conversation and model for my team how I’d want them to handle. Like I said, some of the frustrations are legitimate and being thankful doesn’t mean you have to live on a cloud of lovely acceptance but it does give you a different perspective to see it from. That perspective allows you to see that you already have so much and this frustration is either part of what you asked for (as with my shower) or something you can use to bless others (as with my meeting). The best is when it all converges and you have an OMG moment of just how beautiful the mundane actually is.

Recently as I was driving to pick up my kids from afterschool care I found myself praying. I wasn’t asking Him for a dang thing or praying for safety or health of a loved one. I was simply thanking Him for all He’s provided for me and had a hand in that day. The funny thing was, there was really nothing special about it. I worked a normal day with meetings and small fires cropping up. I got a few things done around the house. I took a shower, which is big lately I suppose. As I drove and looked at the sunset I thought to myself how grateful I was for the positive impact I was able to have on family members, coworkers, my kids, husband, dogs, and home. I was thankful for all He’d equipped me with to be able to love well that day. That is an attitude of gratitude. That is the key to the positive mindset, finding appreciation for the little things in life that provide the greatest impact.

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