There have been so many books written about gratitude and the value it has in our lives. As children we are taught to say, "please" and once we get what we ask for we say "thank you." We routinely say things like "thank you for coming," "thank God it didn't rain on our wedding day," and "thank you to strangers, waiters and people who deliver goods to our door." We say "thank you" at Christmas and on our birthdays when we receive gifts, or "thank you" when someone holds a door open or helps us pick up dropped keys. All languages have a word for "thank you." It is a way of being gracious and kind when good things come our way.
It is far more difficult, however, to remember to be deeply, sincerely, authentically grateful for the life we wake up to every day, with all its warts and challenges. The greatest obstacle for us as human beings is that we focus, however unintentionally, on what is wrong, what makes us unhappy, what does not work, the traffic, the bills, the wars that are raging around the globe, the partner, relative, or friend who does not see things our way. For reasons unknown to me, we as a whole see the glass half empty, even those of us who declare that we are bone marrow optimists. We are not taught to say, "I am SO grateful that my heart is beating today, or that I can breathe the air and fill my lungs, or that I can see, or that I have a home, a meal, a job, a child(ren), an idea that might rock the world. It could be anything that makes walking upright better: an education, a sibling, a friend, a child, a passion or idea, the sun, trees, clouds, a pet, a sense of humble gratitude for the body that keeps us going even though we do not take care of it as we should. Most importantly, it changes our perception and opens up our dream treasure box, it improves our health, and causes people we love to feel valued and cherished.
Gratitude changes lives. Gratitude is contagious, it infects everyone around you. If you would truly like to have a voice that people hear, begin with gratitude for the people in your life who are within hearing distance. Be deeply and sincerely grateful that you have conflicts that challenge you and ask you to grow. Be deeply and sincerely grateful that you do have someone to talk to, even if those people are sandpaper to your soul. Sprinkle your life experience with the sweetness of gratitude and wake up to a voice that is yours and yours alone.