Whenever I see a set of old, Melmac or Corelle dishes at a garage sale or second-hand store, I smile.
I think of our family dinners, the savory aroma of a hotdish or a roast or chicken coming out of the oven, the clatter as we pulled plates from the cupboard along with glasses made of plastic and silverware that wasn’t really silver.
Remembering those meals, with all six of us around the long dining room table, brings me nothing but joy. Our conversations frequently turned to all manner of bodily functions, and we laughed. Oh, how we laughed.
First, of course, we prayed, inviting Jesus to take a seat at the table and asking God to bless the gift of food before us. I learned gratitude this way, as soon as I learned to speak whole sentences. Thanking God wasn’t just something we did, that’s how we were expected to live.
But I never really understood the importance of being grateful until everything in my life turned upside down.
Gratitude, with its assurance that all is well, that I have and am enough, has helped me take a step up and out of my own head. It helped me see benefits and even great blessings in the most painful of circumstances. Not as in “this is hell, I’m going to grit my teeth and get through it,” but more recognizing and appreciating the good in everyone and everything. It’s there, in the beauty of our messy and glorious world.
The more good I see, the more good presents itself – an unexpected writing assignment, an offer of dinner with good friends, extra hours at a job I enjoy. Inspirational speaker and writer Esther Hicks explained this phenomenon in a 2016 hayhouse.com column:
Every time you appreciate something, every time you praise something, every time you feel good about something, you are telling the Universe: “More of this, please.”
I have always believed good things come from gratitude, it’s a way of letting people know you see and love what they’ve done for you. At the very least, saying “thank you” in prayer and in person made my parents happy. It’s not a large leap for me to believe that the Universe also responds well to being appreciated.
So I’ve done these things to develop a practice of gratitude and appreciation:
- Dedicated space in my Bullet Journal. I dithered a bit about how to incorporate gratitude and ended up adding a.m. and p.m. sections so that I stop to appreciate my life, on paper, at least twice a day.
- Looking up. Whenever I’m outdoors, as often as is safe and practical, I look up and feel the gift of air and sky and clouds. The great, endless expanse always gives me a place to start feeling good about my life.
- A gratitude mantra. And it’s a simple one: Nothin’ but grateful.
- A playlist. Music makes me happy, and happy gets me another step closer to gratitude. I’ve created a couple of (okay, like twelve) Pandora.com stations and just put together nearly five hours of upbeat music on this Spotify list:
It all seems too simple, I know. But the thing about the simple things in life is that they almost always work the best.