Heart in the Clouds

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gratitudes 2011 - #4

There's a lot I could say. If you know me, you know that's true. :)

I've been thinking about the shortness of life. I've been wondering about why people waste their time on bitterness and regret and sadness, choosing to die a little more every day. I've been there, so I know what it's like to waste that time. But I'm also learning about what it takes to reverse that slow death process. I know we start dying from the moment we're born, but you can guarantee you'll die sooner (in more ways than one) if you're missing one big thing. Gratitude. It gets your focus off of the big, scary traumas and off of the little aggravations. Instead of keeping your eyes on the dark cloud above you, you begin to see the sun that is always above the storm and that God is always there. That's what happens when you choose to make that shift from the darkness to the light.

Living in the "what could have beens" is a really unhealthy thing. I know people who live that way and I've seen what it does to them. They are never happy with what they have or with who they are. They live with regret instead of being thankful for the short life they've been blessed with. They are unable to appreciate what is right in front of them because they are so focused on what they didn't do or what they don't have or where they haven't gone in life. It's pitiful, really. Regret profits you nothing and gets you nowhere. In fact, the people who live in regret and bitterness often have progressive health problems. Negativity produces negative results.

I think gratitude is one of the keys to a longer, happier life. As a part of doing volunteer work with the elderly for many years, beginning in my childhood, I met lots of people from different backgrounds and different circumstances. However, the ones who were the happiest were the ones who knew what a gift life was. They learned to be grateful for what they had, and by the stories they'd tell you'd know that they "got it". They had grasped the truth that a thankful heart is a healthy heart.

When you replace your bitterness and anger and regret with thankfulness, everything changes. I, personally, have learned so many life lessons just from getting more acquainted with the topic of gratitude. I'm still learning, too. Making the choice to be grateful and to keep being grateful was the best decision I have ever made. The thankful thoughts and emotions haven't always come easily, and there have been many times when I've lost the battle with myself. But I know through everything that God has been and always will be faithful to me, even though I don't deserve it. I think that knowing that one thing above all else, keeps me returning to my gratitude track. I hope I always return to gratitude, even after those times when I've allowed myself the occasional two-day wallow. Even in those times, I know that God loves me and will help me pick myself back up again. Part of gratitude is learning to look outside yourself. I hope to learn to do that more often as time goes on. Want to join me?


Today, I'm grateful for...

Union layoffs. I would personally like to thank God and the Union for the layoff. Thank you, God, and thank you, Union. Because of you, I have gotten to spend more time with my husband. I think this period of time, despite a few random difficult moments, has been one of the best in the last decade. We have all spent quality time together and we've made some great family memories. The kids have gotten to know Sean better, and he has gotten to know them better.

Good news. As my friends' daughter recovers from a head trauma, I watch in amazement at the news of her speedy recovery. Miracles DO happen.

Kids who are good at doing bedtime. I have heard horror stories, so having kids who don't give me trouble when it comes time to get in bed is priceless.

Lunch dates. I am grateful that I've had more one-on-one time with my husband recently. Today it was Indian food. Mmmm... I'm thankful to have such helpful, supportive parents. They are always offering their help us out with the kids when we need it. We don't take them up on their offers as often as we could, I guess, but I appreciate knowing that help is there.

My view of God. Not long ago, I heard someone say that many people feel that God is up there somewhere, distant and just waiting for us to mess up. I sat there and thought about that for a minute. I realized that I have never, ever felt that way about God. I've never felt like he was out to get me or that he was waiting to punish me for every mistake. Instead, since I was a little girl, I've always felt loved by God and I'm grateful that, though I have had more than my share of issues, I've never had to deal with that one. It's a biggie.

Using my brain. I'm glad I've had the opportunity to use the critical thinking part of my brain. It's been a little stagnant in recent years, so I am enjoying working on something that forces me to manage my time and energy more efficiently. Having a project is a good thing. :)

I hope you know that you're loved. I hope you know that life is too short to waste on wondering what you could have done differently. Get past that. You can't change the past, but you can choose to start being thankful for what you have now. It will change the direction of your future. You would not believe the changes in my life since I've decided to start this gratitude journey. I am looking forward to seeing what else can happen as I learn more about redirecting my energy from the bad to the good.

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