Not every day is a gratitude home run. When disappointment pounds the door down and barges in, when the promising job offer falls through or the marriage ends or disease ravages, it’s hard to make contact with gratitude, let alone knock it out of the park. These are the days when it’s difficult to feel anything but the yuck.
But under the pall, there is light and there is hope. The most surefire way to find them is to make ourselves see something good. Anything good. Walking barefoot across a kelly green lawn, God’s ever presence, taking one breath and then another and still being here.
When things aren’t going well, or I’m worried about something serious in my life, I can feel my mind resisting instead of resting on these good things. I can see them, but I can’t feel them as deeply. They don’t burrow down into my soul like they do on better days. But I make myself do it anyway, hoping that even glossing over and carrying this gratitude on the surface will give it a chance to trickle down through the sludge. And it does. The resistance eases and the gratitude lifts me somehow.
On days like this, get out in nature and walk while giving thanks. The exercise adds to gratitude’s positive effect. Take twenty minutes or more, leave your phone behind, and look around as you set out. Notice the beauty and expand your perspective to the world that is much bigger than you. Think about being able to walk, to think, to endure, to get through… because you will. Breathe deeply and think about the gift of doing so and of life itself. Listen to the birds. Smell the flowers. Feel the earth beneath your feet, holding you up, making you strong. And think of, or say out loud, the name of every good person in your life. List every good thing no matter how mundane or how small. It all matters. Everything we have is a gift that’s worthy of thanks.
If you’re in a stormy time, keep trudging. Sunny days are coming.
It's day 16 of The Big Joy of Little Things and here are some of the things that made my list:
59. Visiting one of my closest friends and having hours and hours of talk time with her.
60. When my boy makes homemade cookies just because.
61. Doing my monthly breast self exam, holding my breath the way I always do, and finding nothing.
62. When I'm working and my dog lays her head in my lap, looks up at me with those big brown eyes and reminds me to pay attention to my "people."