GRATIUDE – DON’T FORGET THE LITTLE THINGS
When it comes to gratitude the big things can come more easily. Like mammogram day, OK, I know I lost some of the guys and younger folk on that one. But every woman knows the gratitude when you get that “Everything is OK” message.
It’s easy to be grateful when things are going our way. I was thinking about that a lot last week; how we roll along being grateful while life is moving in the way we want and then – bang – boom – crash – yell- we get all worked up when the universe throws us something we were not prepared for.
But then I started realizing we really expect the world to go our way, it’s why we get bent out of shape when it doesn’t.
We expect the car to always work. But when it breaks we lose it, or say our day is ruined. Now granted there are financial pressures that bring us down and if you can’t afford to get the new radiator – it is a big deal. But it’s not the end of the world. And whoever said the car would always work? We need to be grateful for every day it does. And in doing so we might take better care of it so it doesn’t break down.
We expect a lot from life here in the first world. We expect to always have water, heat and electricity.
Have you ever gone with out electricity for a few hours or even days? You don’t realize how grateful you are for electricity until you have lived without it. You are grateful for the first few hours it’s back – or maybe not – maybe you just go “It’s about time” and turn everything back on.
But electricity is something we should be grateful for, daily, instead of just turning on those switches and lights and computers and always expecting it to be there waiting for us.
Why does gratitude for the mundane not kick in until the mundane lets us down?
So, last week I did an experiment, it was my daily commonplace things gratitude experiment. And, you know what? It worked. Because there is something about being grateful that puts a smile on your face. Even, if it’s as simple as being grateful for the water coming out of the tap.
I come from California where as many of you know water is in a short supply. I was driving around my hometown where everyone has had to let their lawns go brown and their gardens whither. A town that used to be known for its lush greenery wherever you looked.
Now they worry about what happens if God forbid there is a fire. Do they have enough water?
How many times a day are we grateful for water? When we turn on the shower do we say, thank you? When our toilets work – do we expect it? Indeed. But who ever promised us water 24/7 from birth to death?
So I started being grateful for water. When I turned on the tap, I said a quiet “thank you.” When I took a nice hot bath at the end of the day, I was grateful and I silently acknowledged that. I enjoyed my bath that much more too.
And then I kept it up, mundane thing after mundane thing. Traffic – thank you for giving me somewhere to go. Instead of swearing and complaining how long things take. Thank you for the fact I have gas in the tank. Thank you for keeping me safe when I arrived. It’s amazing how many thank you’s you can ratchet up when you start in with the things we take for granted.
Keys that work. Now this may sound like an odd one; but we always expect our keys to open all doors. Not a bad metaphor to ponder on its own.
But when you are in hotels you have those little cards that tend to lose their powers when they bump up against a cell phone, which they always do.
So I normally find myself getting worked up in the elevator wondering if my key will work, or if poor, tired me will have to trudge back down to the lobby for the guy at the desk to make me a new one. I start imagining failure before it occurs and that leaves zero margin for gratitude.
So every time the key worked, I would say “thank you.” Thank you for making my life easier and opening the door. And then on the few occasions it didn’t work and I had to schlep to the lobby at midnight for a new key,I was grateful the guy was there to make me a new one. I was grateful I got to go up to sleep and did not have a job that required me to work all night.
See, grateful builds on grateful. And when we take those little things and are constantly saying a quiet thank you – there is not a lot of room for discontent, and it makes way for more gratitude and happier days.
And that is a lot to be grateful for.
I have only listed a few things here. But try your own mundane grateful project.
If you want to write them in comments the best list at the end of next week will win Gratitude and Trust tote bag and a signed copy of the book.
We can all teach each other things to be grateful for. Not that there are bests in grateful, all gratitude is good.