The following post is from the chapter titled “Gratitude” in my book,”Love Your Life And Expect The Best”.
The title I chose for this book is the short version of my definition of gratitude: “Love Your Life and Expect the Best”. You may be wondering how a person can love their entire life when some pretty unlovely things have happened on the road to where you are. It would make sense to love most, or much, or part of life, but all of it? Yes, all of it! When we can look at the life we have lived without praise or blame, but with gratitude for the lessons learned from the difficult times, we create the space, mindset and ability to expect the best now and in the future.
Some people may seem more naturally grateful, or you may believe others have more reason to be grateful. The truth is, no one travels through life without experiencing heartaches, loss, betrayal or other negative or hurtful situations. It is how we choose to walk through those experiences that makes the difference. Gratitude improves our mental outlook. It can help us grow spiritually. Being grateful for the courage to walk through difficulty or pain helps our healing process If you have not developed an attitude of gratitude, it takes practice, as do most worthwhile personality traits. It is easier to be grateful for the “good” things, so start there. Just notice. For example, the perfect parking space opens up, someone holds a door for you, you receive a raise or a compliment. This will give you plenty of opportunities every day to express gratitude. I must warn you that you will also become keenly aware of your behavior or mindset when the unlovely situations arise. That’s a good thing! It is an opportunity for you to mentally release any negative feelings and to express gratitude for the courage to walk through a challenge and learn the lesson it has to teach you. What we learn may be a blessing to our lives and, best of all, may allow us to be a blessing in the future to someone else.
Grateful people tend to be happier. According to a number of studies, they are healthier, too. They are vibrating or resonating at a higher energy level than those who are ungrateful. A high energy level encourages us to take care of ourselves. Grateful people want to be participants in life, not spectators. They are more optimistic and attract healthy relationships. While we may not avoid health issues completely, a positive attitude does strengthen us physiologically and provides more opportunity for healing. This proved true through the healing I’ve experienced in my own life.
Something I find interesting and wonderful is that gratitude leads to the development of a spiritual life, and spirituality encourages gratitude. Some experiences can be seen only as blessings. I know there are those who may call it luck or coincidence when something good happens. Those feelings may create happiness in the moment, but they do not fill us with joy, hope and expectation for the future. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, allow your blessings to strengthen and grow you spiritually. See yourself designing your life in tandem with your divine guidance. Express gratitude for your blessings, large and small, and allow yourself to experience the joy and hope that come from that simple act of faith.
We all have lost someone we loved and cherished. Our hearts ache over the void created by their absence. Our minds seem unable to focus on even the simplest aspects of life. We need to allow ourselves to grieve. I was with my mother when she passed. The heartache I felt in that moment seemed almost more than I could bear, and it continued for several days. Then, as I sat in the airport, waiting to board a flight home, I began scripting memories of wonderful, fun, special times I had shared with my mother. As I remembered and wrote, my heart and soul began to fill with gratitude for all the time we had together. I continued writing in this journal of memories for a year as I walked through my healing process. My pain was replaced with gratitude, and although even now, nearly thirteen years later, tears fill my eyes, my heart is filled with gratitude for those precious memories. Grieving is a natural and necessary process. It is my belief that staying immersed in it is not. Gratitude helps us heal.