How easy is it to be grateful?

19 Nov

With Thanksgiving around the bend, there is a lot of talk about gratitude. From boosting your happiness to improved health, there are real reasons to cultivate gratitude.

Gratitude is easy when golden opportunities fall into your lap or when you fall in love. It is also easy to be grateful when you are comfortable and without worry. But what about those days that are challenging?

how easy is gratitude?

Yesterday, i was not feeling well. I went through my day and skipped doing things that were not essential. In the evening i soaked in a hot bath tub by candle light, and drank a grog—a northern European home remedy, in my case consisting of a shot of aquavit with hot water—to sweat out the bug. Then i went to snuggle up under a cozy comforter and topped my medication with Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic flu remedy).

What does this all have to do with gratitude? When you’re not feeling well or when things don’t go in your favor, the last thing most of us think of is gratitude. Can you remember ever thanking your boss for firing you? Or being grateful to your partner when they dumped you? Usually, our thoughts are caught up in our misery. We focus on the negative, not on any upside. Most of us need a little distance to see the positive that can arise from a negative experience. After finding new opportunities, or meeting a more loving partner, we can, in hindsight, see the wisdom in negative experiences. For example, i can look back and say: Yes, i thank the guy who broke my heart 20 years ago. Without that experience i would most likely not be living here in California and writing this newsletter to you.

The big question is, how can i gain a positive spin on experiences that do not please me in the moment? I can use the power of my intellect, my insight, and my experience with the ways of the world. Coming back to the example of coming down with a cold or flu, i could be grateful for the simple home remedies i have learned. I could also tune into gratitude for a warm house and indoor plumbing that allows me to effortlessly pour a warm bath. And, i could tune into gratitude for all the times when i am not sick, when my body works well.

In more serious cases of disappointment, frustration, and pain i can train myself to see the opportunity for growth. “Wow, i am invited to look at this issue some more!” “I can get closer to healing my fear of [fill in the blank].” Or, i can say: “Wow, the universe has something else in mind for me. What could that be?” I am not saying that this is a universal truth. I am aware there are really tough challenges that are not easily turned into obvious opportunities. Sometimes, we have to surrender to the darkness and make peace with existence. Sometimes the only question to ask is “What can i do to make it easier to go through this?”

That said, for all of us there are many easy things to be grateful for. What are 5 things you can come up with? Anything goes.

Here are some examples, meant to inspire you to find your gratitude for today:

“I got a parking spot right in front of the theater.”
“That chocolate was delicious.”
“It was nice talking to my friend on the phone.”
“I am going on a dream vacation!”
“I got to read a little before going to bed.”
“My daughter did her homework without being asked.”
“I enjoyed a wonderful walk on the marina.”
“So glad my friend is feeling better.”
“I love this new book.”
“I sat with my cat/dog for an hour.”
“It felt great to be acknowledged by … today.”

To read up more on gratitude, and the wisdom of paying attention to the small things, check out my blog entries What went well? and The Magic in Gratitude.

And if you are in the Bay Area and want to do something special for yourself, treat yourself to my Gratitude Collage worksop this Sunday afternoon. This is a great workshop to bring a friend to. You share the fun of creating, plus you up their chance at happiness. I make it easy to be generous with my Gratitude Special: 2 for $130

Sunday November 23 | 2-5:30pm | Berkeley | Register at http://evaruland.com/collage_gratitude.html

© Eva Ruland, November 2014

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7 Responses to “How easy is it to be grateful?”

  1. paulettemotzko November 19, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Reblogged this on Totally Inspired Mind….

  2. marjma2014 November 19, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    Sometimes we have to go through hard times to really appreciate what we have. Also it can happen that an unpleasant symptom can have a positive outcome, e.g. I suffer from ear problems which sometimes make me dizzy. This has helped me write a scene in my novel in which the protagonist suffers a similiar episode (not brought on by ear problems but something else, you may want to read the book to find out what! ).

  3. marjma2014 November 19, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    Reblogged this on kyrosmagica and commented:
    Reblogged from sfsoulspa. Sometimes we have to go through hard times to really appreciate what we have. Also it can happen that an unpleasant symptom can have a positive outcome, e.g. I suffer from ear problems which sometimes make me dizzy. This has helped me write a scene in my novel in which the protagonist suffers a similiar episode (not brought on by mundane ear problems, you may want to read the book to find out what!) When it is published.

    • sfsoulspa November 19, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      That’s very true. As a matter of fact, i believe that negatively perceived events are invitations for change and good things can come out of them. It is mostly our resistance that makes the experiences difficult.

  4. FreeCrone November 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    5 things I am grateful for this morning: Rain! The beauty of the persimmons hanging like ornaments from the tree outside my window. Warm feet. The sound of my mother’s voice as she reassures me things won’t always be this hard. Friends who invite me to step into gratitude. Thank you eva!

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