Gratitude is something of which many people today seem to be oblivious. My kids, for example, are probably the worst. The nine- and seven-year-old girls seem to have minimal understanding of what it means to be grateful and why it’s important. My husband and I often talk to them about how much they have compared to what little they could have. We talk about homelessness; the terrible food in homeless shelters, prisons, and the military; and children whose Christmas presents were simply having the heat kept on at home. But they still don’t seem to get it. The girls’ mindsets are “I want, I want, I want!” without much appreciation for what they already have. Each holiday season, we go through toys to make room for new ones that they will get as gifts. While we head for a donation center to drop off old toys and clothes, we discuss with our kids who will be receiving these items and why. Our girls earn money through doing extra chores so that, when we go on special outings like the Dallas Zoo, they can buy their own souvenirs. (I just paid almost fifty bucks to get three kids and myself into the zoo, including parking. I’m not buying you junk to bring home, too.) But no matter what we do, we can’t seem to get the girls to understand how much they truly have.
Most adults these days also have a problem with gratitude, though. With such a fast-paced society, we forget to take a moment to stop and think about what all is going right. We’re too worried about bills, work, responsibilities, and health to reflect on all of the positive. It’s the simple things such as the fact that you have a job to worry about. Maybe you just paid off your car, which makes it easier to take care of your other bills. I personally forget to be thankful of the fact that my kids truly are well-behaved and (mostly) respectful. No matter how little you have, there’s always something to acknowledge as wonderful.
Therapists will often suggest doing a gratitude journal, which many successful entrepreneurs will do daily. Each morning (or evening), pull out your journal and jot down a few positive things for which you are thankful. Then, whenever life gets you down and you’re having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, get out that journal and read it over. You’ll not only be reminded of the good in your life, but re-reading it will bring back the feelings that came up when you originally wrote in it. Having those feelings of gratitude come back up will help your mood, put you on the right path to starting your start or having a good night’s sleep, as well as having other great benefits. As this new year takes off, perhaps gratitude can be the best focus. Instead of “new year, new me,” I think I’ll be focusing on the me that has been here all along – and everything that comes along with her.