Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Defining Gratitude (my way)

On the surface, I think the idea of having a "gratitude practice" is kind of corny.  I mean, really...the idea of trying every day to find something your grateful for and then...what?  Saying your grateful for it?  Seriously.  What kind of good is that going to do anybody?

When you Google quotes about gratitude, I find that the quotes are generally too simplistic and make broad sweeping generalizations (e.g. “Those who have the ability to be grateful are the ones who have the ability to achieve greatness").  I mean seriously.  It's just not that easy y'all.  They also place unnecessary lofty expectations that make it seem like, once you sprinkle a little gratitude into the day to day, things will actually be pretty swell -- you'll forgive and be forgiven, the sun will shine, you'll achieve greatness, your life will be beautiful and lovely.

If someone were to quote me on gratitude, this is what I would want it to say,

On the days that you can, be grateful.  Let gratitude fill your lungs and your heart and let it spill out of your pores onto the pavement.  Be messy with your gratitude.  Let it trickle down your chin and stain your shirt.  Refuse to wipe it away.  Be grateful for your breath, and for colorful sunsets, and for your favorite song on the radio.  Be grateful for the toad in your driveway, for dog kisses, for children holding your hand.  On the days that you can, be grateful for your favorite tea, or for drive-through windows, or for the way that Cheetos turn your fingers orange.  Hold it in and let it saturate you; then breathe it out.  Feel the way it sits in your body.  That is power. 

On the days that you can't -- and there will be days that you can't -- be grateful for the fact that you recognize your lack of gratitude.  Express gratitude for the bad days by living through them and naming them what they are.  On the days that you can't, repeat the phrase: 'I'm grateful for the opportunity to start again tomorrow.'"  On the days you can't, repeat, "I will start again tomorrow."  On the days you can't, just say "tomorrow."  Hold that word in and let it saturate you; then breathe it out.  Feel the way it sits in your body.  If you are still breathing at the end of that breath, that is power.   Where there is breath and there is power, there is a starting place for gratitude.  Just the act of breathing is an expression of gratitude for life.

Alright, fine, maybe that's more like a sermon than a quote one would find on Goodreads.  I have more to say about this topic later, but for now, here's my Goodreads style quote:

"On the days you can, live your thanks.  On the days you can't, just continue breathing.  When done with intention, even breathing can serve as a whispered prayer of gratitude."  - Me, 2013

Look for me on Goodreads, you guys.  One of these days, I'm going to be famous.

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