One morning recently I woke up feeling particularly lousy, depressed, dreadful. I had dreamt crazy, anxiety dreams all night and lamented the day ahead. Then I was reminded that my grandmother used to tell me, “don’t look at what you don’t have. Thank God for what you do have.”
I began counting my blessings. I thanked God that I could get myself out the bed rather than having to wait for someone to carry me to the bathroom. I thanked God for my health and mobility. I remembered that a friend of mine is struggling to see, and thanked God that I do not have that challenge. I lay still fifteen minutes thanking God for many things. I got out of bed feeling much better, and by mid-morning I was actually excited about many possibilities for the day and for the near future.
As I showered, I began thinking about prayers long-ago prayed and long-ago answered. I felt even better. Throughout the day songs on gospel radio reminded me to “take the shackles off my feet so I can dance.” I sat on my front steps and simply enjoyed the brightness of the sun and the sound of the birds.
In the evening, I got a few good laughs from a sit-com I had long-ago labeled sheer buffoonery, “Sanford and Son,” which my grandmother loved. Around dinnertime, I realized I had a wide variety of meal choices. I could pull food from the fridge or freezer, or go to one of more than a dozen restaurants within a five-mile radius. I could go to one of more than five grocery stores or one of the half a dozen fast-food places nearby. And, as broke as I felt, I had enough money in my purse to eat anything I wanted. I could even go to a seafood market and order fresh shrimp or crabs. I was satisfied with a salad I made from ingredients I already had.
Why couldn’t I appreciate the richness of my choices? Why shouldn’t I appreciate the various manners of richness I already have (spiritual growth), rather than bemoan the riches (financial abundance) I still crave?
After dinner, I retreated to the deck with my journal and decided to begin sorting through the thoughts that made me sad or left me feeling defeated.
I began acknowledging lessons learned from failures. How much longer would I measure my happiness by the amount of cash on hand or the amount of money I was making on a job? Why had I become so angry and anxious that angry and anxious thoughts ran rampage through the night draining restfulness from my sleep?
Being unemployed, I realized, means I have a wealth of time on my hands to apply for jobs, in the process becoming clear about my strengths and weaknesses, and beginning to fully appreciate the skills and experiences I have mastered over the years.
I labeled a section of my journal for recording blessings only, determined to jot down notes of gratitude frequently.
My grandmother planted those seeds of gratitude in my youth. I am now noticing flowers I had been overlooking in my constant rush for the next best thing.
Let’s share some gratitude today. What are you grateful for today? Tell us the first thing that comes to mind.