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Posts Tagged ‘practicing gratitude’

‘Tis the season to be grateful.

Gratitude, I have found, is a very powerful tool. It has the power to relieve my stress and infuse me with joy. It increases my empathy for others. It restoreth my soul.

I have much for which I am grateful: good health, a sound mind, a solid income, a safe home, a well-suited and loving partner, and an interesting and quirky group of friends. Oh, and my cat; she’s a hoot.

For me, though, gratitude didn’t come easy. It took practice.

I was raised to see only the flaws in my life, those elements which could be improved upon, especially in myself. As a result, for most of my life, when I would look around, I’d only see what needed to be fixed, not what had been accomplished. In the beautiful wilderness of my back garden, I saw only the weeds. Though I have nine published novels, they only represented my failure to catch on with a larger audience. And as to my cooking skills, well, in them I only saw what I lacked when compared to other, more inventive chefs I know. Across all my successes, only the lost opportunities were visible, the deeds left undone. With this mindset, it was really difficult to feel grateful about what I did have.

But then I started practicing gratitude, actually forcing myself to see the good in things. Eventually, I began to appreciate what I had more and, as that increased, the primacy of the flaws decreased, for gratitude really is a zero-sum game. I can’t appreciate something and obsess about its flaws at the same time. I can still see the flaws, of course, but by being grateful for a thing, I take it as it is, not as how I think it should be.

Once the seed of gratitude takes root, it sticks with you, and those flaws? They are transformed from negatives into opportunities to make the whole even better, even more worthy of gratitude. I still want to improve what can be improved, but the little things—the dandelion among the roses, my lack of mastery with sauces—they stay little things; I no longer inflate them beyond their true importance.

So, during this season of holidays, where we wrap up our gifts as well as the year in general, I heartily encourage you to stop, take a few moments, look around, and concentrate on the good parts of your life, for there are many, even when things seem pretty bleak.

There is good in every day, and in every yesterday, and in every tomorrow. Cherish it.

Onward.

k

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