I am a self-help addict, a full-blown junkie. Whenever I feel myself falling into a funk, which is at least a few times a year, I turn to any number of resources, ranging from therapists and life coaches to self-help books and self-empowerment CDs. Some of my favorites have been The Secret, The Artist’s Way, Tony Robbins, and of course, the guru herself, Oprah.
What I’ve noticed in all of my self-helping, there are a few common threads among all of them, one of which is the simple, yet sometimes challenging concept of gratitude.
Though the words “thank you” become an integral part of our lexicon at a young age, the notion of being grateful, of feeling gratitude, is a concept that goes beyond those two little words that trip so easily off our tongues with little thought. Gratitude is a way of living, of seeing the world, through a positive light. In fact, I see it as a way of shedding light.
My “funks” typically come when I have burnt myself out and have fallen pray to any number of life’s pitfalls, like seeing the grass as greener, wanting what the Jones’ have, and drinking from a half-empty glass. You should see the raucous pity parties I throw myself!
But at some point, mid-party, I get sick of hearing myself complain like a broken record and I climb my way out of the mess. Enter self-help outlets listed above.
Once I begin to put my energy and thoughts towards positive thinking, like being grateful for the things that I DO have, I notice a change. My mood improves, I actually like my husband and the things that are getting me down, or green with envy, seem more manageable.
2010 was one big funk for me. Some friends dubbed it as my mid-life crisis, which it very well could’ve been. Many factors helped me emerge from that dark time, like counseling, exercise and a lot of hard emotional work, but if I had to pinpoint one factor in particular, it would be gratitude. I re-framed my thinking and realized how much I had to be grateful for, and then, I began to show my gratitude in big and small ways. That could be an entirely separate post (this one is already wordy enough!).
Instead of being bummed about the size of my house, I became thankful that I have minimal square feet to clean, that we have a private pool ten yards away and incredible neighbors, including Ms. Elizabeth who watch our kids for us occasionally and has become a dear friend.
I stopped bitching and moaning that I didn’t fit into a certain size jeans and instead felt grateful that I have a healthy body that can run, dance and swim, all of which I started doing, and ironically enough, in turn, helped me fit into the jeans I wanted to fit into.
I stopped finding fault in everything my husband did, and I instead focused on all his incredible attributes and the things he does right, including how he raps my presents.
When I fill my mind with thoughts of gratitude, I find that there is no room for negativity; for the what ifs or the woe is mes. There is only light.
The most perfect, poignant example of using gratitude to turn a dark situation to light is a recent blog post from a fellow blogger named Jessica. Jessica writes a blog called Four Plus an Angel. She lost a daughter, one out of three baby triplets, just a few days after they were all born. Last week she wrote an inspiring post about the day that her little girl would’ve turned four.
Through tears I read her words. Her pain was palpable and almost too much to read, yet I read on, because beyond the pain, there was light. She wrote about how close her family ties are now as a result of their tragedy, and about how she now finds beauty in life, the life she must go on to live, fully and happily, if not only for herself, but for her other children.
The post concluded with a sentence that stuck with me:
“For two days or 100 years, life is a gift. I will live my life forever grateful that I was the one chosen to carry the treasure that is you.”
We all experience pain, sadness, frustration, loss, and rejection, in varying forms, yet we also all have incredible blessings that for some reason periodically get lost under a cloud of negativity. Choosing gratitude is always the best answer, even when it doesn’t seem possible. Even when it seems like there is nothing to be grateful for, if we looks close enough, we can bring light to any situation by giving thanks for it.
This diatribe on gratitude was sparked by my introduction to Cerra.com, an online community that helps women strive to find balance in their lives, through “seven intentions,” one of which is gratitude. The other six intentions are loving kindness, grounded, creative energy, wisdom, inspiration and courage. Gratitude happens to be the one that resonates with me the most, though I’m sure I could write a complete thesis on all of them.
What intention speaks to you most? What inspires you to grow as a person? Is there a negative situation in your own life that you have turned around by using gratitude?
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Good luck and thanks for reading. *wink*
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cerra. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Contest Rules.