You think your life sucks??? Is gratitude possible?
You know those people. They’re far more than optimistic. They at times seem slightly annoying. They have the ability to see life differently than others. Wherever they find themselves, at whatever stage in life, and whatever else seems to be going on, they have some spirit of gratitude that exudes from them.
I think I have seen cheesy quotes or bumper stickers or slogans that make me want to reply with inappropriate emojis- something like have an attitude of gratitude. Those bring out my dark side.
On the other hand, most people report that at some level, I am one of those people.
I am going to allow you to listen in to the circular thought processes of my own brain on this one. At some levels, my life could be considered as somewhere between challenging and difficult. Somewhere between sad and at times even painful. I normally don’t feel badly about my life until I listen to others narrate it. And then it feels somewhere between my life sucks and should I even continue living.
At least one of my discoveries is that my brain is hardwired toward optimism. If yours is not, please forgive me. My greatest strength is often this excessive even unrealistic optimism. On a parallel track, one of my greatest weaknesses is my unguarded optimism. It actually gets me into trouble. Additionally, I probably qualify as having some sort of “gift of faith” which is often described as the ability to trust God for things that may not seem reasonable to the masses. Either way, I don’t qualify as “normal”.
Let’s leave me behind and these thought processes and talk about gratitude. Gratitude can be described as both conscious, subconscious, even non-conscious sense of regard or appreciation for things that currently exist simply because of how they are. It goes well beyond seeing the best in something to simply embracing the present and grasping the essence, even goodness of what might be hidden just below the surface. It doesn’t have to be amazing – it’s often not amazing. But it is seeing the present for the best of what it can behold. Writers and noted public figures from Oprah to Jesus and many dozens in between have spoken of gratitude. Authors by the dozen have suggested that we create a gratitude journal where on a regular basis, one thoughtfully looks at both the small things and the broad sweeping strokes of life to identify what’s there to be embraced, regarded, cherished, and even speaking gracious and grateful thoughts for the simplest of events.
If gratitude comes easily for you, embrace it all. But please be gracious who can’t see life the same way. Neither flaunt your gratitude or attempt to motivate them with your overly optimistic platitudes.
If you are one who has great difficulty capturing any levels of optimism that may stand in front of you, maybe take a moment, look at life from a different angle, even take a page out of the Dead Poet Society – possibly climb a mountain to get a different view. Notice a detail that you would typically overlook and for a brief moment, consider the meager benefits of one small aspect of life. It’s a good way to start.
Life is qualitatively different for those who can somehow capture even a momentary glimpse of gratitude. If you can then take it one step further to a slightly deeper reflection, take the time to go there. Write it down. Give thanks. Text the idea to someone else. Find someone to celebrate with you, even if it’s a momentary thought. Life is different when you can capture the best moments that it offers you and embrace them with gratitude.