Practicing Gratitude

One summer, my mom and I decided we would start  practicing gratitude together.  I was working in a different province at the time, so we would exchange our pieces of gratitude over the phone, e-mail or snail mail. It was helpful to have someone accountable to share the pieces of my day/week with that made me thankful.  I agreed to embark on this adventure with her, which meant I had to start actively  paying attention to what I was thankful for.

One piece of gratitude I'll never forget occurred when I was driving to work one morning.  As I turned the corner to drive up the last hill before work, I noticed someone had peeled up the yellow dividing line and created  a huge smiley face right in the centre of the road. Upon inquiry with the usual suspects (teenage coworkers who lived a few blocks over), told me they peeled the yellow lines off the asphalt just after it was placed down by city workers the night before and made a smiley face from it*.  I'm sure if you tried hard to scowl at it, you could... but it was simply too hard not to be overcome by a smile as you ran passed it. 

I get this same feeling when I drive down Hwy 24 from Cambridge to Guelph, ON.  For years I've wanted to thank the farmer who, year after year, continues to cut into his field a huge smiley face for all to see who pass by. I don't know why he does it, but I am thankful he does... I can't imagine I am the only one. 

Of course, it's easy to practice gratitude when life is going well.  It's when life gets rough or when recovery seems exhausting that it becomes more difficult to see pockets of thankfulness. I urge you, however, to find them... because they are there. It can be as simple as being thankful for the way the sun is shinning that day... or you hear a song you like on the radio.  It doesn't have to be a big event or exude the purest form of joy you have ever felt... it just has to be something that makes life a little more tolerable than it did before it occurred. The more you do it, the easier it becomes...

So... when your right eye is watering and it's driving you nuts... be thankful that you have another eye that is working as it should (this was me two weeks ago!). When you are sitting in front of a meal that is triggering, be thankful that the plate it is on is clean. If you're in an inpatient program and you're missing school, maybe there's a sense of thankfulness that your room has a window. There's always something... it's there. Will you allow yourself to see it?

*I do not condone this act and recognize it is illegal... it still makes me smile though :)