A few months ago, one of our volunteers remarked to me that she had asked someone how they were that day and the reply was one that gave her pause to think, since she thought it was such a wonderful response. When she asked the person how they were that morning, the response that came back was…”Grateful!”
It’s not a reply we hear often. When thinking about all the responses you have ever given to the question “how are you?” this may or may not have been one that you have offered, but I, too, think it was such a wonderful reply. Wouldn’t it be great if we all responded like that?!
If you think about it, there really is nothing like gratitude to help us see life in a new way, and give us a great attitude for the day ahead of us! When looking at different cultures and different spiritual traditions from around the world, one of the practices that is common among them all is the practice of gratitude. Whether by formalized ritual or simply a personal disposition, gratitude is seen as one of the keys to living a full life. No matter what the circumstance, when we are grateful, it does us in good stead. Of course, this is not to say we should deny feelings of dissatisfaction or anger or fear, or the realities of heartache and grief. But instead, when challenged by the difficulties of life, gratitude can help us rise above the mess of feelings and find peace even in the most painful of moments. When working here at Hospice, this is a reality we see time and again. In the midst of grief, gratitude has healing qualities.
It is amazing the power of gratitude to pull us out of dark places. I love this quote by Mariah Fenton Gladis: “Every time you express gratitude for any aspect of yourself or someone else, you breathe life in.” Or this one by Martha Washington: “I have learnt, from experience, that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not on our circumstances.” Henri Nouwen writes: “Gratitude involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions are still steeped in hurt or resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.”
One thing for which I am always very grateful is music. Perhaps you have also experienced the wonderful ability music has of being able to go directly “past our brains, right to our hearts.” The healing power of music is that it can bypass the overthinking and worrying with which our minds are often busy. Somehow, like magic, music can always release the gratitude within me…
Last week one of my children was having a hard time with a few issues in his life and he said to me, “Mom—you won’t believe it—you know how you said to think of three things I am grateful for when I get up in the morning….? Well it actually works!”
Simple gratitude is amazing because it does work. To be aware of the simple wonders of every day. Whether it be the sunshine, the birds singing, the flowers in your garden, the laughter with friends, the stars in the night sky, a caring loved one willing to listen. Being grateful for each small experience can open us to even larger measures of gratitude in this life and to want to spread it to others in turn.
What are you grateful for? Try starting the day with being grateful—if you are having a particularly challenging day and just can’t think of anything, go with the simple and obvious, like the fact that you had a warm bed to lie in at night. It is amazing once you get started how the gratitude begins to flow, fill your heart, and take on a life of its own.Back to Hospice Spirit