When was the last time you felt grateful for something? Hopefully it was yesterday. Hopefully it was this morning. Hopefully it was a few minutes ago. Hopefully you’re feeling grateful now. I’ve heard a lot about gratitude over the past couple of decades and the topic, the idea, the emotion of gratitude seems to be gaining attention, momentum and strength. Maybe you’ve noticed it too. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so, and the more I learn about gratitude and the more I practice it throughout my day, I think gratitude is one of the greatest things ever. Screw sliced bread.
Actually I take that back. Sliced bread is pretty awesome. Can you imagine how much longer it would take to make sandwiches for a bunch of friends without pre-sliced bread? If you weren’t very good at slicing bread then half the pieces would probably be mangled and way too thick. Unless you had a really sharp bread knife there would probably be pieces of bread falling everywhere, all over the counter and the floor, attracting insubordinate dogs that just will not STAY OUT OF THE KITCHEN!! If you did have a really good, sharp bread knife and you weren’t a skilled sandwich chef you may end up slicing off the tip of a finger because you were too nervous or distracted trying to make perfect bread slices. Isn’t it amazing that all the slices are perfectly uniform? I mean, wow. It’s almost as if the loaf of bread was cut by precision machinery in a factory or something…
Alright gratitude doesn’t have to be that corny, but it doesn’t hurt anything if it is either. I’m grateful for my often corny, nonsensical sense of humor. I shudder to think what I’d be like without it. Want to know what I’m doing right now? In my other life I’m an IT consultant, and I’ve been sitting here at a client’s computer for the better part of 4 hours installing and updating software well into the late evening, and I probably won’t escape for another couple of hours because it has to be finished by tomorrow morning, and I didn’t bring dinner with me, and I can’t leave because the doors will automatically lock, and I’m without a key.
Blech, right? Yeah a little bit, especially at first. But while I’m twiddling my thumbs (literally), pacing up and down the halls of the office, checking in every few minutes to see if the progress bar has advanced another centimeter or if there’s some new stupid error message I have to contend with, I realized that I do have a perfectly good connection to the internet here and I can get caught up on emails, check a little social media action, work on my books and write this blog post. I’m essentially trapped with nothing to do but wait for this software update to finish. It’s impossible to procrastinate on my books or this blog because I’m literally bored out of my mind and if I don’t do something productive soon I might start looking for sharp objects.
So now instead of feeling bored and indignant I start to feel grateful for this circumstance. I’m grateful for my client’s IT situation putting me in this situation where I can get a big old chunk of real work done that I enjoy and am passionate about. I’m grateful for her computer and internet connection. I’m grateful for her keyboard with the missing Esc key and half the letters rubbed off the keys. I’m grateful for all of the words flowing out of me right now and because of that I’m grateful for this software update progress bar that I could swear hasn’t budged in over an hour. Actually, I just looked over at that progress bar and it’s moved more in the past 15 minutes than it has in the past hour. It’s almost (ALMOST) like I don’t even want to leave now. Almost.
They say that if you want to have more of anything in your life you first have to be grateful for the things you already have. They say thoughts are things and that energy flows where attention goes. They say attitude is everything. They say you become what you think about most of the time. Actually Earl Nightingale said that, but hundreds of other people throughout history have said similar things. I love thinking about this stuff, and a vast, completely empty and silent office at 9:00 pm is often a great place to be thinking this way.
They also say worrying is like planning for failure. They say hypochondriacs literally make themselves sick by focusing on what’s wrong with them, real or imaginary, instead of focusing on what’s going well, ie being grateful that they are alive in the first place. When is the last time you were thankful about simply being alive? Or your family members, even the ones you can’t stand? Are you grateful that you can see, walk, talk, hear, think, eat, run, laugh, play? Are you grateful that you can work, even at a job you might hate? Are you grateful for your car, even if you never know if it’s going to leave you stranded on the side of road again?
Check this out: If it is really true that people become what they think about most of the time (psst…and it is…), or that people tend to reflect what is on their mind most of the time, why would you want to ever not be grateful for your life? Why would you want to focus your mind on ANYTHING except that which makes you smile, that which brings you joy? Think about it. If you could be mindful of your thoughts from moment to moment, why would you even dare to worry about anything at all? Or be indignant like I was a little while ago, feeling “trapped” by my obligation to my client tonight?
Why would you even think of getting sick when you could be admiring the health and well being you already enjoy? Why would you spend a moment’s thought on debt when you can be grateful for the roof over your head, or the computer or phone you’re reading this blog post on? Why would you be afraid of getting old and dying? Ya think that might make you age faster, maybe? Could you be grateful for the life experiences you’ve had instead? Could you be grateful for the youth you now enjoy? Could you be grateful for the moment you have, right now, to make a choice about your attitude?
That’s why it’s all about gratitude, folks. Gratitude isn’t just some fluffy, bohemian buzzword that new age hippies throw around to impress each other (“It’s all energy man, it’s all about gratitude”). If indeed thoughts are things, gratitude is literally one of the most powerful pieces in the creative process. Gratitude is one of the most, if not the most powerful of attitudes, and as they say, attitude is everything.
Get out there and be grateful.