Being grateful

Have you had the driver/customer ahead of you at Starbucks pay for your coffee? I was floored the first time this happened and actually tried to follow the gracious van so I could wave hello to them.

It has happened several times since then and I have returned the gesture as well.

Such a small thing, yet it takes a big attitude.

What’s your attitude? Do you wake up in the morning looking forward to the challenges that the day will bring you? Or do you find that you are more fearful of what lies ahead for you? If the latter is true then it is time to start working on improving your mindset and learning how to be grateful for what you have.

Showing that you are grateful to others doesn’t mean you have to be all smiles and always be giving people compliments. It does mean though that you need to make an effort to acknowledge those around you.

There are lots of small ways that you can show how grateful you are to others. Just smiling and nodding your head are two simple, yet effective ways of doing just this. You could try to say “thank you” to people a little more often too.

Have you ever tried just smiling at people you see when you are out and about? I love to do this when I am shopping. There are lots of cranky people at the grocery store and my small effort to smile at them in acknowledgment has been very gratifying.

If you think good thoughts your mood and outlook automatically change. You will feel happier and others will notice this too. Your movements will portray your true feelings.

Work on thinking positive thoughts. The best way to do this is to pick one thing that you are grateful for. This doesn’t have to be something huge. It can be a very small thing that you appreciated. Did someone hold the elevator door for you on the way to work, for example? Or did someone thank you for some small gesture you made? On those days when someone ahead of me at Starbucks paid for my grande dark roast, I reflected on that small thing all day long!

Take a good look at your life, this includes your home, your friends, your family, place of work and other areas. What things do you like about your life? Write them down. Then pick an area that you would like to improve and make a note of this as well.

I have often been in a state of ambivalence about the houses I have lived in. The first was way too small for a growing family. The current house is way too big for an emptying nest. Certain aspects of my current house drive me crazy but I purpose to not let them squelch my joy. For example, my kitchen is horribly outdated and needs some work. Rather than focus on that, I found some pretty things to hang on the walls and I try to keep colorful flowers on the counter or the table to help me focus on how fortunate I am to inhabit the space.

It is human nature to always think about those things you don’t like. So now that you have selected something you don’t like, write out how you can improve this. Then set yourself a goal for actually committing to doing something about it. Then it is up to you to take action on it.

If you do this, then you can’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Instead you can look at your list and know you have the tools and resources to make positive changes. Just start working on your plan each day or week. You don’t want to become obsessive either, but now that you have a goal to work towards you can change your life.

Always remember to be grateful for those small things in your life, while you are working on improving other areas.

When my kids were little, I learned the concept that we shouldn’t disdain the day of small things — the wiping up spills, washing clothes and feeding messy children. When we embrace and celebrate those small things, we are the ones who are blessed.

I began a small gratitude practice when my four children were small. I purposed to express gratitude each time I had a one-on-one interaction with them. When I was changing a diaper, I thanked God that he had blessed me with children. (He settled the barren woman as a joyful mother of children. Psalm 113:9) When I bathed them, I expressed gratitude that they were all healthy and vigorous. When I kissed them goodnight, I especially gave thanks for the sheer wonder of it all.

I believe this practice sustained me through the crazy years of mothering. I learned patience and gentleness by expressing gratitude.

These are things I will practice all the days of my life. It’s all a wild ride and if we fail to see the joy and the beauty, well, we’re been driving our car with our eyes closed.

I hope your eyes are opened and your heart is overflowing as we enter this season of Thanksgiving!