June 2012 Newsletter – Living with Gratitude: You Can’t Start Soon Enough

The newsletter for June is late because I was preoccupied with a presentation for last week. I spoke to a group about perspective. I always speak on a topic I most need to reflect about.  I never plan it this way, but the Universe arranges this to get my attention, and to get me to look at the details that I would otherwise choose to ignore.

I have begun to focus this year on expressing more gratitude—no matter what my situation may be. I’m finding that while I may acknowledge or verbally observe something I should have done differently, I quickly correct my perspective to how grateful I am—for an item purchased impulsively, for a less-than-perfect situation, or for an emotional entanglement that resulted from miscommunication. Even minor things can grab our attention, take up our time and cause angst, but when you verbally give thanks for the situation from a positive perspective your “fringe of chaos” softens.

I have recently reflected on how the past 40 years might have been easier if I had expressed more gratitude, and if I had changed my perspective years and years ago. I think now about all that I thought I didn’t have. The more lack I “saw,” the more lack I experienced. The more I compared the less gratitude I had. But, I had a home on half-an-acre of land that butted up to a state forest. I had a large garden so there was an abundance of good food. I had a husband, two healthy children, excellent schools, a great neighborhood, wonderful friends and a real community. It was how I saw myself that shaped the picture I was living in. I thought I didn’t measure up in ways that were important, but they weren’t the important “ways,” and not the things that needed “measured” anyway!

Do we not learn the hard way? Even now, as we age, it is ever more important to be grateful for the good health we do have, for the good mental health we have, to be grateful for what foods we are able to eat, to be able to exercise, to get around and enjoy the life we have; and, I am so grateful to visit and enjoy my children and grandchildren. I’m grateful to have work, to have an income, and I experience goodness and blessings even more abundantly as I recognize and voice more gratitude. There is nothing but truth to that.

I asked my eight-year-old grandson, “What is the greatest truth that you know?” He thought about it and said, “That my Mom and Dad love me.” Yes, the greatest truth we know is that we are loved, and that is such a blessing. To have people in our lives that matter to us and who care about us contributes to our well-being. To be a part of a community and participating in life with people around us helps us to thrive—even when times are tough and possibly “fringed with chaos.”

A conversation with my 94 year old friend hit upon the paperwork required of us even into our advancing years, and how unrelenting details and demands rob our time. But then she reflected on how grateful she is to be able to drive, to not have to depend upon others, and how she is healthy enough to remain as independent as she is.

It’s simple. Keeping a gratitude journal, or verbally announcing what you are grateful for while driving the car, doing errands, or before bedtime, frames a perspective that changes your disposition and improves your mental and physical health. It’s the place to begin and end your day. It only takes a moment, but the pay-back is so, so worth while.