The Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude, Mental Health
10/31/16 - Nicole Wood

It has been a long day for me. I got three hours of sleep, I took a 6am flight, I have been on one bus, three subways and a train today. My laptop refused to connect to the internet all day, so I spent over an hour on the phone with Apple (and was forced to listen to Coldplay while on hold) only to discover it was a network problem and not a laptop problem. While this may seem like a bizarre time to write a blog on gratitude, I actually think it’s quite logical. Listen to my problems. I got to travel to a different city today. I got to explore its transit system and feel that satisfaction of knowing I navigated one bus, three subways and a train all by myself with next to no hiccups ;). I have a Macbook. Something that costs many people’s rent payment. Something I had wanted for a really long time. Damn. I’m pretty freaking lucky.
It’s all about perspective. You can choose to view the array of public transit as a burden or as an adventure. You can pretend like Coldplay is a good band and rock out, or you can let it add to your misery (I know this one’s a stretch. Coldplay sucks). What to you seems like a shitty stroke of luck (having to take a 6am flight), could be something someone else has dreamed of (visiting New York City). I’m not saying don’t feel bad for yourself when unfortunate things happen to you. Take a minute. Cry. Scream. Be angry or sad. But I am saying to also take a second to at least appreciate how lucky you are, and that other people would kill to have your problems. You, like me, have got it pretty damn good.
Don’t wait until you cross a certain threshold to appreciate what you have. I have this tendency. Once my business is making X dollars, it will be amazing. Once we just redo the dining room I’ll love my house. It is human nature to focus more on what you don’t have than what you do.
Funny how it takes getting a cold to appreciate being able to breathe through both nostrils. Or being in another country to appreciate the comforts of home. Or seeing another couple fight to be thankful for your partner. You often need to experience the downs to appreciate the ups. But does that have to be the case? What if we tried, really tried hard, to recognize that much of what we’re living right now is an up, and if we are very fortunate, we may never have to experience the down. What if we focused more on what we do have than what we don’t? I can guarantee you, that concerted effort to recognize and appreciate the ups you are living in, will make you feel more happy and full.
Even when we are grateful and we recognize it internally, most of us really suck at expressing it. Who did something nice for you today? Who supported you, complimented you, helped you, listened to you, made you laugh, taught you something, shared something with you? There are people all around us who add beauty and excitement to our lives. But we wait for special occasions (or a late night drunken bonding sesh) to tell them how much it means. That’s bullshit. Don’t wait. Tell them today. Tell them right now. Tell them in the moment that you’re thankful. Let them know that you recognize them for what they’re adding to your life and you appreciate it. It will feel good for them to hear, and it will feel good for you to say.
Now I know that each and every one of us has gone through something real. True heartache that doesn’t come from a broken laptop. So I won’t belittle your life’s struggles or assume that you have made it to where you are without the world truly testing the limits of your resolve. Rather what I challenge you to do is change your mindset. Begin to see the even small moments of beauty when you’re smack dab in the middle of those trying times. And take the time to appreciate those moments and those people, even when things are going well. The world will continue to offer you these gifts, if you take the time to be grateful for them. Write a mental thank you card to the world. And you’ll be surprised at how much more she gives and gives.

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