Lately, I’ve heard a lot of people talking about how stressed they are, how they feel the world is so chaotic and negative right now. Let’s be clear, I do feel the stress of the world, and am as sad and frustrated as anyone. But I also know enough about myself that if I only focus on the negative, that I will only feel negative feelings.
For me, this is where the gratitude part of Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude comes into the discussion. In order to survive the grief of losing Sam, I needed to actively, consciously, and almost aggressively recognize for what I am thankful. I start each day with an out loud conversation with myself. I say who I am grateful for, and what — and yes, it was awkward in the beginning, now it is part of the day. It isn’t all roses, puppies and unicorns. There are days when I may say, “I am struggling right now with XYZ, but I am thankful for this part of it.” For example, “I am struggling with my relationship with (name), but I am still so thankful that he/she is in my life because.” Sometimes it is mundane stuff, like I am thankful for our health insurance, or thankful for the great pizza from Brandon House of Pizza the night before. Sometimes is it more global, such as I am thankful for the work of the Nobel committee in recognizing greatness.
It would be easier to instead start each day with what is wrong with my life, or what is wrong with the world, but that is now how I want to live my life. By choosing to focus on the gratitude, the irritations seem less important, and I find myself so much more open to accepting others.
So here is my question for you — how do you want to live your life?