Today I Am Grateful For
Back in grade school, I was once told that the greatest prayer you can ever say is, “thank you”. That’s it. Just a two-word prayer. I don’t know if I can honestly say I remember anything about geometry but I can tell you without any uncertainty that I remember being told about that prayer. Ironically, fast forward 25 years later, the other day I read a post that challenged us to pray by only saying “thank you” without it being followed by any requests (isn’t this the habit we get into when we pray?). Can we just thank God? Thank Him for today. Period. No circumstances, no demands, no begging. Just be thankful.
Let me tell you - whenever I used to call my 92 year-old grandma, who passed away two years ago, I would ask her how she was doing. She always said (as she sat in her home by herself, sometimes unable to leave), “I’m grateful I woke up today.”
We know we are supposed to be thankful. Afterall, the concept is so important that we have a whole day committed to just giving thanks. A WHOLE DAY out of the year! I don’t know what your thoughts are on this, but something tells me we need a whole lot more than one day a year to remind us to be thankful.
The practice of gratitude has become so important that research has been, and continues to be, conducted on it. In researching gratitude, I came across Dr. Robert Emmons, who is known as an expert in the science of gratitude. The SCIENCE of gratitude. It’s a science now. How amazing is that?! The more I research the benefits of gratitude, the more amazed I am. What is being shown is that gratitude can improve sleep, increase happiness, foster resilience, and improve physical and mental health*. This is just scratching the surface on some of what I’ve researched, and of course this research is evolving.
As I reflect on my own experiences with gratitude, I have to say that I am beyond blessed in my life, and always have been. So my challenging times are nothing compared to what others have faced. I am completely aware of that. I feel that gratitude is one of the secrets to life - at least my life. I’ve found that in the most challenging times in my life (and I’m SO blessed to not have had many at all!), I’ve had to take a step back to 1. ask myself why this happened and 2. figure out a way to move on. When I realized that I may never figure out Number 1, I had to find a way to accomplish Number 2. What I figured out was that, for me, the way to move was to try really hard to be thankful about something regarding the situation - and I had to dig deep - really deep. However, when I did, and focused on that, I found that I was eventually able to move on. I also realized that once I accomplished Number 2, I was able to have a much clearer picture on Number 1.
Sometimes in the most challenging times, you may find out the most about yourself. You might discover your own resilience, your own physical, mental and emotional strength - and isn’t this something to be grateful for in itself?
I’ve always believed that your mindset, and how you think of things - how you view situations - is the biggest tool we have in our toolbelt. The ability to practice gratitude falls right there. Can you find something to be grateful for every day? In the days where finding gratitude is hard, be grateful for the moment before you. This is really the only one that counts.