This is a guest post, the first in the Gratitude Practice series. Every week, I’ll post a submitted article about the powerful practice of gratitude. You are invited! More details here.
Today I welcome Lisa Renee Wilson, whose blog is a regular source of inspiration in my life.
Ah, these thoughts of gratitude. I sip my perfectly-spiced chai while the birds twitter away outside and a gentle breeze lifts and drops the branches on which they sit. My back pain almost gone, the laundry folded, the kids happily learning of gardening and spelling in school.
And then I smell it. The present the dog just left for me in the other room.
While I’m cleaning it up, he jumps on the rocking chair and successfully knocks all of the neat piles of folded laundry into a clump on the floor.
Walking to answer the ringing phone, I curse as I step on the metal car—the one I’d told my son repeatedly to pick up because someone was going to get hurt if they stepped on it.
My husband tiredly relates over the phone how he’ll be working late and promises that the overdue bill will get paid tomorrow, and no sooner do I hang up then I receive a call from the bank that there’s been fraudulent activity on our account and our cards are being immediately shut down.
Suddenly the dishwasher starts making this horrid noise and it is all I can do to make it over and press “stop” before the whole damn thing starts to walk its way across the room to come find me.
We search for and find gratitude in those blissful moments, those ones we label as “good”. We smile and offer thanks for being able to experience this or that.
But what of the “bad” moments? What of the painful moments, the troublesome moments, those in which we’d rather be anywhere but here? How does gratitude work in those situations?
Sometimes, changing perspective is enough. Thank heavens we still have kids around to leave the toys out, or that the dog is still alive, or that we have money in a bank account. If that is where you are, celebrate being able to change perspective. That is huge.
If you are interested, I invite you to try something else. A practice of mindful gratitude.
Be thankful for the pain. Be grateful for the crap on the floor. Send love to the person who hacked your bank account.
Instead of moving outside of the moment and finding something else for which you can be grateful, be fully, deeply grateful for what is.
Life is full of happy birds and spilled drinks, sunshine-filled days and anxiety-provoking arguments. The dishes get clean and broken, the body finds health and injury. If we are grateful only for those moments in which we feel good, we will suffer in trying to chase those moments…and miss out on so much of our lives.
This is a practice. An ongoing, lessons-learned type practice. Whether you are grateful for just being able to get out of bed this morning, the noise or silence around your home, the pain you are feeling, or just this breath, pause for a minute and realize: You are here.
Perhaps that is enough.
Thank you to Sue for allowing me to add my voice to this wonderful space!
Lisa Renee Wilson is an Awareness Artist, exploring the union of mindfulness, creativity, and Real Life. She writes regularly at LifeUnity.com, and is currently guiding others in a free online mindfulness class, The Wild Elephant Project. (Join the Wild Elephant Project here.) Lisa also creates a variety of art in her home studio area in Bloomington, IN, where she lives with her husband and two children.