Have you ever had that experience when you pull into a parking lot, and just as your about to settle into your spot, the car in front of you leaves, allowing you to drive on through so that you don’t have to back out when you leave?
You let out a quiet cheer of victory and might even raise your hands to the roof and yell out, “Woo hoo!”. That is gratitude.
How about when you are at the checkout counter of the grocery store, and the nice clerk asks you if you’d like to use your $70 worth of Optimum points? Would I?! I just won the lottery! That, is gratitude.
Or how about when you’re in the process of putting your five-year-old to bed, which takes about an hour because, as I mentioned, it’s a process. There’s the shower, which, in and of itself consists mostly of singing and dancing, rather than washing or rinsing. In fairness, apple…tree. Mama’s process is quite similar. Once she’s sung through the entire album of Matilda the Musical, she gets out of the shower and asks which pajamas her seventeen-month old sister is in because she wants to be twins. We make it happen, somehow get the comb through her Shirley Temple locks (or not), and settle in to read three stories.
After nearly falling asleep during story time myself, we begin the song portion of the evening, which consists of two songs that she will either sing, perform, or both. We make it through and then it’s time for our ‘sleepover’, which is when mommy crawls under the blanket and pretends to sleep (praying to the sleeping gods that she will pass out in five minutes or less). This usually does not happen. I am left with only one last move, which is to sit just outside her door on the floor, so that she is comforted by my presence. Are you tired just reading this process? Me too. And by the way, this process only starts after finishing putting the baby down, which is after a full day of work. All this to say, mama is tired and needs to collapse on her bed with Netflix and a few chocolate-covered pretzels or All-dressed Miss Vicky chips. And so, when my five-year-old says to me, “Mommy, you don’t have to stay at the door. You can go when you want,” it’s like I’ve just found a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I look up to the sky, put my hands together, and say thank you to day camp for tiring her out. This is the power of gratitude.
The funny thing about gratitude is that, when you actively practice it, you find more little wins and moments each day. Not only does the practice of gratitude help you to appreciate the small moments, it also helps to improve physical and mental health. In a study in which two groups of individuals were working through a physical ailment, those who practiced gratitude recovered faster than the control group. The other interesting finding is that those who practiced gratitude did not get as sick as the other group. Gratitude has shown to enhance empathy and reduces aggression. It improves the quality of your sleep and enhances self-esteem.
So here is your mission, should you choose to accept it. Write down three things you are grateful for today. It doesn’t have to be big, life changing things. It could be, ‘The sun was shining today’, ‘I slept a full eight hours last night’, ‘my kid ate broccoli and didn’t throw it across the room’, ‘I got enough time to actually shower and put on clothes other than leggings or sweatpants’, ‘my partner cooked a delicious meal last night’, ‘I started reading a new book’.
Again, they don’t have to be huge life-altering moments. We are focusing on the little things, the Small Wonders the Change Everything. If you need a bit more inspiration, check out my website http://www.smallwondersthatchangeeverything.com.
You will find hundreds of ideas. Keep that journal on your nightstand, start with one a day before bed, and watch the magic of gratitude unfold.
Lots of love,