There is always, always something to be thankful for
You’ve heard this. It’s nothing new. I do, however, think we could all (myself included) use the reminder every now and then. No matter how good or bad things are, it never hurts to reflect on what we are thankful for.
When I was a little girl I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. In spending so much time around older people, I learned a lot. And a lot of those lessons have stayed with me through the years.
I remember once when I was probably 9 or 10, my grandma sat me on her knee, as she often did, and told me “Whenever I have trouble falling asleep, instead of counting sheep, I count all the things I am thankful for, and you know what? I never run out of things that I’m thankful for before I fall asleep!” She is a very wise woman. As a child this made sense to me. But now as an adult, where I tend to view things with more grown up eyes, I especially value this piece of wisdom she handed down to me. On those nights when I can’t sleep, I find so much peace when I follow her advice.
It is so easy to get caught up in all of the negativity and everything that is going wrong. I get it, I do the same. But what if we tried to train ourselves to think the opposite? Think of all the things you’re thankful for, and focus on the positive rather than the negative. When I do this, just as my grandma said, I never run out of things. The list is endless. It can be obvious things, like I am thankful for my loving husband and my smart son. I am thankful we are healthy. I am thankful I have a roof over my head. I am thankful we have running water. I am thankful to have shoes on my feet. On a bad day, when I’m having trouble being optimistic (we all have those days), it’s different things. I’m thankful that I have friends to share my struggles with. I am thankful to have a sister to disagree with. I’m thankful for that annoying coworker for it means I have a job. I am thankful for the messy dishes for it means there are people sharing my home. I am thankful that I have the time and space to reflect on all of the things I am thankful for. Thankfulness doesn’t have to apply only to those big, obvious aspects of our lives. Heck, you can be thankful you have a laundry hamper to throw your dirty socks in, rather than having to throw them on the floor. The idea isn’t what you’re thankful for, it is just the act of being thankful. An attitude of gratitude, as they say.
I heard this quote years ago, you’ve probably heard it too. “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?” Isn’t that powerful? Even if you don’t pray to the same God, or any God at all, can you see the message in that? It changes my perspective for sure. When I’m really having a bad day and can’t muster up anything else to be thankful for, I think of that quote. And then suddenly so many more things start to fill my head. Rather than complaining about something, think of how it adds value or ease to your life, and express thankfulness for it, even if just for sheer purpose of expressing thankfulness. It doesn’t have to be life-changing.
We all struggle, we all have bad days, but we all also have much to be thankful for. Let’s not forget it. I believe this is especially important in today’s world. Try to shift your thinking to a more positive tone for just a day or two and see how it affects your happiness and the way you respond to those around you. I can attest that it makes a huge difference. As the mother of a small child, life can be so messy and loud at times. It is so easy for me to fall into the trap of negativity and complaining. But when something goes wrong, and my first instinct is to raise my voice, I try (keyword- try- it doesn’t always happen) to take a deep breath and remind myself that even with the mess and the noise, this life is still full of blessings for which to be thankful. I have to remind myself that there’s always somebody who has it worse than I do, and rather than hone in on my own problems, take a second to pray for the mama who wishes her son was capable of making such a mess, or the mama who has prayed for children to fill the house with noise but her prayers haven’t quite been answered yet. It is this shift in thinking that really helps to put our own problems into perspective, and make them not look like problems at all. By expressing thankfulness, we have the power to change the way we view the world. And that can be a very powerful thing. I believe by practicing gratitude more frequently it can help us all become more content with whatever we are going through.