Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
My husband and I recently went on a beautiful vacation to Key West to celebrate the marriage of one of Cole’s oldest friends to his amazing new bride. The trip was nothing short of exquisite and we found ourselves feeling refreshed and vibrant, basking in sun, love, and the company of friends. This marks our third travel as a couple without the kids since last October and we are feeling GRATEFUL.
Three years ago, we decided to make a long-distance move from Montana to North Carolina, and naturally, we hit some bumps in the road. That crazy move is a blog post for another time but something that I️ will mention is that upon our arrival to Charlotte, North Carolina, Cole lost his job instantly. Mind you, Cole is the breadwinner in our house. I’m working my way up the ladder after being a stay at home mom for 5 years, but he makes the big bucks that pay the mortgage and all of our other large expenses. Insert panic, fear, and desperation. This meant that our world was caving in around us. All I could think was, what in the world does this mean and what the hell are we going to do?!
Many of you would have never guessed this because it was not something I broadcasted. I’m an open book for the most part but I’m also someone who only shares deep issues or upsets after I’ve sorted through them myself or with my husband. It’s my way of coping with life and it’s what works for me. I am happy to share life’s glories because ultimately that is what I really want to focus on and give light to. That is the stuff that really matters and I want to be imprinted in my brain, not the sticky stuff.
We lost our gratitude for a little while there, which is so easy to do when you are going through difficult times. We fell into the trap of self-pity, and asking God, “Why is this happening to us? And how are we going to make ends meet?” We did what most do and asked all the wrong questions first. The questions that are disempowering and that won’t bring you answers that you want or need to hear. Nowadays I’d be asking “What can we learn from this? What message is trying to come through? How can we grow from this?”
Get ready, because it gets worse! Within the coming three months, our two sweet girls had each broken a small bone, during random miscellaneous accidents and Cole had thrown out his knee. It was a shit show, to say the least, and it truly felt like we were doomed. We also found out that every couple that had lived in our new home prior to us had divorced. I got the house blessed immediately. That is where I drew the line!
Knowing what I know now, I’ll tell you why I think we started sliding down that slippery slope of unfortunate circumstances: we got into a cycle of negative thought patterns. We felt like nothing was working in our favor and those were the signals we were both emitting and attracting. We were vibrating at low energy and literally reaping what we were sowing, and life was sucking all the while.
Eventually, things started turning around, I got a job serving at a great restaurant close to home, Cole’s parents were able to help us out financially, the girls started healing, and we knew we were going to be ok. Cole found a great job and we found our gratitude for all the little things that life had to offer along the way. We also held onto our never-ending faith that there was a plan in place for us. We were grateful that even though our babies had gotten injured, they were otherwise happy and healthy, my new job was able to afford our daughter’s preschool tuition, and I auditioned for a talent agency here in Charlotte and they signed me on the spot. I later went on to book the first audition I went on. If I could keep my gratitude alive for this big test then I would be rewarded on the other side, and I was. After that experience, I vowed and promised to never lose sight of my gratitude, because although life can be very difficult at times, it can always be way worse and there is always something to be grateful for, some little, tiny thing. Don’t forget that!
Now, fast forward to this wedding getaway on Sunset Key. As I sat on the edge of the island having cocktails with a few of my lady friends, while the boys whooped it up in the background, we got on the topic of gratitude. I saw one of these said girlfriends a few months back during a summer visit to Montana. At the time, 4 months prior, she opened up to me about how she felt like she was in a rut. She had just had her third gorgeous baby but was feeling blah, exhausted like us moms tend to be, not feeling great about her body, her life, just not the best. I could totally sympathize with her, of course, I’ve been there before, I think any mother can relate to those exact feelings. But time had passed, and it was now November and let me tell you, Mama was GLOWING! She looked amazing, but more importantly, she was radiating from within and we could all tell. I asked, “so what has changed for you?” And her reply was “well I started living with gratitude.” Hmmm, the lightbulb went on in my head, it made perfect sense! That is where happiness begins, it begins with gratitude. It’s how my life was forever changed three years ago and how now, hers was as well. She then went on to explain that because of her gratitude, she had been able to manifest positive changes in her husbands’ job as well, that’s how powerful this stuff is! I thought, of course, this is the key to unlocking abundant happiness.
I am not diminishing or ignoring life’s trials and tribulations, I understand that sometimes there is no silver lining, and it is important to honor valid feelings of hurt, sadness, and frustration. However, allow those feelings to pass through you, acknowledge them without judgment, and once you have settled, seek to find something that brings you joy, comfort, and ease to your day. Sometimes, the moments of pain and upset are necessary to bring you to a place of gratitude and that could be one of your life’s big lessons.
Research shows that the practice of gratitude has also been proven to lower blood pressure, induce the relaxation response, improve sleep quality and duration, and is directly correlated with vitality and energy. Do you see where this is headed? Gratitude benefits your overall health and I encourage you to practice it regularly.
Here are some great ways to implement the practice of gratitude in your daily life:
- When faced with a challenge, look for the silver lining. How might you benefit from this challenge?
- Start a gratitude journal where you write down three things that you are grateful for throughout the day.
- Tell those you love how they add great value to your life.
- Journal about your greatest qualities and practice self-gratitude.
There are so many other ways to practice gratitude, that list is the short of it. Here are some other great articles on gratitude and its powerful effects.
I’ll conclude by letting you all know that I’m grateful that you read this post. If you love it, please share it and spread the gift of gratitude this holiday season.
Sending you love,