Originally published November 2015, Women’s Network of Rapid City Newsletter, Jessica Castleberry
I love the concept of gratitude. In my most challenging times I used to write the word “gratitude” on my wrist for the constant reminder. In more progressive times I have a bracelet that has that powerful word inscribed on it.
I would love to have a more practical application of gratitude in my life, and here are the steps I am taking to make gratitude part of my attitude:
Change the “if and then.”
I am guilty of living with an “if and then” philosophy. If I can just accomplish ________, then I will be __________. If I can graduate from college, then I can feel fulfilled in a new career. If I can become financially stable then I won’t be as stressed out. If I can expand my business then I can take more time to enjoy my loved ones. Though not everyone suffers from “if and then,” everyone knows someone who does. If and then can be a valuable tool, driving success and determination. If and then can also undermine our happiness and overall well-being. It places our contentment and health in an ambiguous future place that we can’t access in the present. Life becomes a long to do list that is never completed, and we can lose ourselves along the way. I am an “if and then” person, and I have found that reaching the “then,” is never enough. To remedy this discontent, I have been trying a new take on if and then. If I feel grateful for everything I have right now, then I will feel happier NOW. If I can consistently unplug at 5:30 pm, then I will feel more rested, and have more connected quality time with my family, AND be more prepared to get back to work the next day. If I can prioritize my time, then I will feel more balanced and less overwhelmed. Altering if and then has to do with taking responsibility for your life right now, and not expecting to be happy once a magical “if and then” can be met.
Don’t suffer from heritage amnesia.
Don’t forget the ancestors who toiled and loved you so that your life would be better. My bad days are put into perspective when I think about my family escaping execution for their Jewish heritage in Russia by hiding in a hay wagon in 1918 to get to the docks to come to America. Suddenly extra paperwork and stressful deadlines don’t seem so bad.
Thank your nonbelievers.
Every single person you have encountered taught you something about yourself. Whether it was proving that you have what it takes, or taking criticism into account and improving, every person who said you couldn’t achieve either pushed you harder or helped you alter for a better course.
Be grateful for your mistakes.
Think back on errors that you made, and how much you learned from them. We hate to hear that we will learn from our mistakes as teens and young adults, but I can guarantee I am a much more practical human at 33 than I was at 23. I find comfort in thinking, “Imagine how smart I’ll be at 43!”
Remember love keeps lifting you higher.
Whether it is a manager, or a teacher, or a family member, think about who helped you be where you are today. One of the best ways we can invite more gratitude into our lives right now is to focus on helping others. You will be surprised by how much you receive when you focus on giving.
Time keeps ticking away.
Life is short. Too short to wait for happiness and success and fulfillment. Period.
Take time to celebrate.
When you accomplish a goal, don’t forget to take a little time to celebrate it along the way. Better yet, celebrate with those who helped you get there!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am grateful for YOU taking the time to read these posts. It has been a great year, and I can’t wait to see what December and the new year bring!