Gratitude is something we rarely express. We talk and think more about the things we wish we had, causing us to complain more than we should. Being grateful is an attitude to be embraced because it’s a feeling that isn’t shaken, despite the things we lack. It seems fitting to discuss gratitude with Thanksgiving a few days away, however, it’s not something we should only think about this time of year.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when I was cleaning out my email folders and came across an old message with the subject line “Gratitude” dated February 25, 2015. It was an email from myself listing random things that I felt necessary to express that day:
“Things I’m grateful for: my relationship with God. That Chubby is still alive and that I’ve had him for over a decade. My parents, their health. My baby nieces who I adore. My siblings, my friends. My church and church community. The prospect of having the future I’ve always wanted. My job and the provision it gives me. The very fact that I’m not lacking anything. I think I just need to express gratitude today because my heart and mind is weighing heavy from worries.”
I read that email over and over to remember what was clouding my mind at that moment, but I couldn’t. Knowing me, I was probably reevaluating some aspect of my life that I wanted desperate change in, as is the case many times. Either way, that message stopped me in the middle of my to-do list and made me smile because of the sincerity I poured out in writing it. I also realized that I don’t practice gratitude as much as I should.
These days, my gratitude list looks slightly different that it did in February 2015. My dog Chubby passed away, but I now have a nephew that I adore. I’m thankful for other things, of course, but it’s funny how looking at life in retrospect can shift your perspective to focus on what matters most in the present. Those are the very things we should be grateful for more often.
Being grateful doesn’t come easy to everyone because life is hard and we’re all in constant pursuit of the next thing. But when we express gratitude, everything that isn’t within reach seems insignificant. It does for me, at least.
Now that the calendar is coming to a close, I always make it a point to look back on the year and reset my outlook in anticipation of what’s to come. While this year has had its share of highs and lows, the one constant I want to strive for in the next few weeks and into the coming year is to remain grateful for what I currently have. Expressing gratitude is about being present, focusing on the now. Express it, in whichever way you feel most adequate. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself today.