Today I was thinking a lot about gratitude and how it relates to attitude.
And, they both rhyme! Gratitude, attitude. Other words that rhyme:
Britney Spears, bring me beers
A recurrent self-help theme over the past ten years or so has been to be thankful, to show gratitude. In doing so, one supposedly gets perspective on all that is good in his/her life and minimizes feelings of negativity about what’s not so great. Keep a gratitude journal, they say. Write down five things every day that you are thankful for. Focus on the little stuff because it’s in those moments that life is truly lived.
Practicing being thankful actually dates way back to biblical times:
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God. (Thessalonians 5:18), and numerous other verses that I don’t know because I don’t read the Bible very often.
The thing about gratitude is, it’s terribly easy to do when things are going great. Conversely, it’s a royal pain in the ass to do when things suck. That said, I think the true measure of someone's character is found in the dark times. It’s easy to be strong, upbeat and on top of your game when it’s all going swimmingly. It’s much tougher, however, to keep your wits about you and your attitude bright when you’re under that dark cloud of doom.
I don’t know about you but I want to kick someone in the head when they tell me to count my blessings when I’m feeling down. What f’ing blessings? Can’t I just wallow in self pity?
Truth be told, however, switching over to gratitude brings a change in attitude (more rhyming). Remember that the next time you’re feeling particularly crabby.
Here’s where I found gratitude today as I ran in snow and 8 degree temps (I look like I’ve been crying hysterically or smoking pot. I swear, I wasn’t doing either. I think my eyeballs froze):
- I am thankful I am not any uglier today.
- I am thankful I can run for 30 minutes today. Three months ago I could not run for one minute.
- I am thankful I have the resources to go to PT, to see a doctor, to get massages. Not everyone can and does have this at their fingertips.
- I am thankful I can swim, run with the pussy posse in the pool and do yoga. My body is asking me to be gentle with it and this is how I can respond.
- I am thankful it’s cold because it is winter and it is supposed to be cold. Without cold there would be no feelings of orgasmic ecstasy when it got warm again
- Most of all, (gritting me teeth here) I am thankful for this hip stress fracture. Bullshit. NO. Not thankful for it. Can’t say that. But, I have learned some lessons from it. It has been a reminder that balance is needed in all things. If you forget that, you will be harshly reminded and it might be too late. This is an analogy for life as we know it. Get out of balance in any area: family, friends, food, alcohol, spirituality, work, exercise – and it will eventually bite you in the ass.
I got bit hard. And, it still hurts.
Sometimes we’re under the illusion that we can keep it all up. That we’ve got it all under control. However, we may be barely holding it together. Just by the skin of our teeth. On some level we know this, but we ignore it. Deep down it causes us anxiety. Maybe we don’t sleep or eat well. Maybe we lash out at those around us. We know the straw will break the camel’s back if we don’t find more balance.
We get caught up in the more is more cycle. It’s like we're so steeped in our fears of being incompetent, that we go crazy over- compensating. More training. More money. More activities. More square footage. More food. More dieting. More texting.
More has gotten the reputation for being better. But, in actuality and paradoxically, less is more. Trust me on this one.
You know how I like to bring out my favorite little book sometimes for inspiration. A Touch of Wonder by Arthur Gordon.
I love what he said about once meeting Margaret Mitchell who wrote “Gone with the Wind.” Ms. Mitchell reported that the writing of GWTW was going well until she read the manuscript of “John Brown’s Body,” another Civil War classic. Ms. Mitchell was so intimidated by the the depth and content of writing, that she was paralyzed. She said, “John Brown’s Body gave me such a terrible case of the humbles that it was months before I could find the necessary faith in myself.”
Funny thing is, she wrote freaking Gone with the Wind, and I’ve never even heard of John Brown’s Body.
Moral of the story of all of this rambling: Never underestimate your abilities, your power. Keep life in balance and have faith. Find gratitude even when things feel hard, very hard.
Going to find some eye drops,