I now think of gratitude differently than I used to. I used to feel like something was wrong with me because while I could always find things to be thankful for, my gratitude was just a fleeting thought in my head. Soon I’d be back to taking things for granted, or even discontent about something. But what kind of person did that make me, especially when I’ve been blessed with so much? An ungrateful one, that’s who. Other people seemed to be all about gratitude, so there must be something wrong with me. That gave me something else to be discontented about.
I think that we often assume that gratitude means being thankful for the big things in our lives. These are things like our home, our families, our jobs, our health, etc. We are taught that we should be grateful for these things because not everyone has them. But should our ability to be thankful depend on us having things that others don’t? Something doesn’t feel quite right about that. Do we have to imagine a life, whether our own or someone else’s, without the things we love and enjoy in order to appreciate them? Won’t just the natural process of growing old take most of the things we are thankful for when we are younger? How can we ever hope to age happily if this is how we practice gratitude?
I now practice gratitude by being at peace with the moment. That’s all. I enjoy everything so much more when I don’t have to trick my brain into gratitude mode by imagining life without them. Because whenever I try that my brain gets all excited that it’s time to worry. My brain loves to worry and will take any excuse I give it to worry.
By accepting that on a deeper level nothing is really my own in life, or that nothing is truly real outside of the present moment I can appreciate things more than ever before. I’ve only been awake an hour today but so far I’ve been thankful for the light pink sky at sunrise, the frost on the grass, the way my dog sounds when he snores and a lot of other more miniscule things. So this Thanksgiving, or any other day that follows, just try to notice and appreciate the tiny little miracles of the present moment. That’s true gratitude.