Getting To Gratitude
By Tamra Wade
Witnessing the gratitude movement of the last decade left me feeling inadequate and saddened. While I can feel a deep sense of gratitude for others who show me kindness, I have a much harder time expressing this feeling in general or as it pertains to my own actions.
What was wrong with me that I couldn’t skip along in blissful gratitude like many of the gratitude gurus were espousing? I am not thankful all the time. I don’t feel fortunate all the time. I am stubborn in my recovery. I sometimes want to languish in my emotions devoid of gratitude.
Gratitude takes a back seat to my to-do list. Most days I am not feeling gratitude. Most days I am just trying to survive the events that are seemingly unwilling presented to me.
I don’t give gratitude attention or focus.
Times that I have tried to give gratitude the attention it deserved I found myself forcing myself to be thankful, stubbornly. Though I realize that is the point of the effort, it doesn’t feel authentic to me. Some days the tiny and mighty action of focus is just too much.
How am I going to get to gratitude?
I have to take a few steps backwards to move closer to gratitude.
I love data. I love observing. I need to see proof of gratitude before I can feel it. I have to start smaller and look for evidence of things that are the cause of gratitude. Maybe I am splitting hairs here, but this is my nature.
I find great happiness in focusing on the smaller aspects of gratitude. The tiny components that lead to the feeling of thankfulness. I find that doing this allows for the bigger sweeping moments of profound appreciation and feelings of how fortunate I am.
One tactic I use is to look for things that caused me to feel happiness, delight, sense of relief, or peace. My list of observations on any given morning my consist of:
My children getting off to their day with any measure of happiness
Remembering to put lotion on
Remembering to wear all articles of clothing
A good 80’s playlist
Gas in my car
It might seem like I am trying to be glib. I’m not. I really need to start at the basic elements of measure.
These basic elements are stepping stones to feeling gratitude. Without the continuous focus, my busy life whooshes by and I miss these glorious moments as if they never happened. When I focus on these moments I find I am thankful.
I am also mentally assembling how much of our emotions cohabitate together.
We are fully capable of feeling a multitude of emotions all together and sometimes simultaneously. I had always thought that our emotions were singular in how we feel them. It was one or the other. That is the case in times of elevated experiences, but typically we are walking around with a mixture of emotions ebbing and flowing around our interactions and experiences.
I have found this awareness to be freeing. I am free to search and find evidence of the singular components that comprise gratitude while I feel sadness, anxiety or any other more challenging emothing. It should be included in our tools we amass to build resilience.
Knowing gratitude allows us to consider hope.
How do you get to gratitude? Are you a steadfast participant? Or are you more stubborn with your gratitude like I am? What steps do you take?