This week always gets me thinking about gratitude (along with the other millions of americans thanks to media marketing, cheesy #thankFULL puns, and sales at the grocery store). How powerful it is to actually experience thankfulness or, in all honesty, fullness. But, why just this week? We have 365 days we can choose gratitude (to me that’s better than any sweet potato sale at Market Basket) and yet we save all our energy and awareness to acknowledge gratitude face-diving into turkey and a full of stuffing.
I talk about it like it’s simple, but it's far from it and actually a lot of work and sometimes even pain to understand it. Would we understand how to be grateful if we didn’t work at it? Fact of the matter is, it took me a really f*cking long time to get here… and it’s still something I constantly practice. It took a lot of other not-so-comfortable things - pain, uncertainty, sorrow, risk, denial - in order for me to fully embrace gratitude. Like all things, this too takes work. It takes leaning into those really uncomfortable energies we often avoid to find a sense of accomplishment and empowerment to be grateful. Gratitude isn’t an instinct, it’s not human nature to sense gratefulness. Gratitude is a skill (can I add it to my resume now?). It takes practice; like training for a marathon, like meal prepping and learning what’s good for your gut. It takes time, patience, maybe loss, and a whole lotta experiences.
I learned gratitude through my father's battle with ALS. Fortunately for me, even after his loss and, I am able to choose gratitude every single day. Sometimes it might be the little, tangible things like a roof over my head, food on the table or for the bigger things we often take for granted, human connection, MOVE.ing, breathing. I learned the process of allowing myself to experience things first-hand. I never took the easy way out, I (almost) never ran from situations that were uncomfortable and instead I decided to feel my way through to see what was on the other side. ALS taught me more about life than any class, course, certification, or any two letter credential after my name could and will ever teach me. It taught me the power of choice.
It’s not that my story is any more inspiring than someone else’s. It was the fact I chose to find gratitude and create happiness through what I learned that makes it mine (and proud of it). You can roll with the punches, get back up and go again, or you can get knocked down and stay down. I, alone, am simply grateful for that ability to choose rolling over quitting - we all know 10 times out of 10, even if it means rolling through the trenches, will be my pick.
Gratitude is free. It knows no wrongs or rights. It is limitless, unapologetic, contagious to some extent. Don’t wait for next Thanksgiving. We have 365 days to discover grateful breaths, grateful walks, grateful matchas and grateful workouts - start now.