Today is Monday…and from where I’m sitting (in Delaware), it’s cold and rainy. The Thanksgiving holiday is over…and I find myself losing my attitude of gratitude, especially when the hectic holidays now loom with all of the “to-do’s” left to be done. So how do we maintain a grateful spirit when we’re feeling down, perhaps even experiencing an “emotional hangover” brought on by family drama, or coming down off our spiritual “high,” or merely facing a cold, rainy Monday? I think we need to remember that gratitude is an action word and the answer to being happy lies in doing whatever it takes to stay grateful.
How do we do that, you ask? First, we need to remove whatever it is that’s blocking the way to feeling grateful. If there is someone or something in your life causing you anxiety or regret, try to limit (or if you can, eliminate) your exposure or at the very least, accept that person, place or thing – unless you can change it. Second, it helps me to tell another person what I’m grateful for and if this isn’t possible, at least write it down so my thoughts don’t get trapped in my head (where other negative thoughts are liable to override them). Third, sometimes we just need to focus on the road ahead and to move forward, remembering the good, forgiving and forgetting the bad, looking around and appreciating what we have right here and now (even if it’s the rain).
Although times are tough right now with family drama, I am grateful I have family. Although some old friends have disappointed me or have fallen by the wayside, there are new friends I’ve made that are just waiting for me to spend time with them. Although I have aches and pains sometimes, I am relatively healthy and can see, hear, walk and even swim. Although there’s always something that needs to be fixed, I have a home that provides warmth, shelter and safety. Although it’s not ideal, I have a job that makes money so I can fund “higher” pursuits in my life. And although it’s not where I want it to be yet, I have a purpose as an inspirational fiction writer that I wouldn’t trade for any other. Although it’s especially hard around the holidays, I am truly thankful for my sobriety and a recovery program that helps me live a better, more fulfilling life and be a better person each day as a result. And although it is being tested on a daily basis, I am thankful for my faith…and truly don’t know how I could be grateful for anything unless I remember that a kind and loving God is in control of it all.
There, I already feel better having written down my blessings! It’s easy to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day. It’s a little harder the Monday after…but it is possible! “I thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I sing praise to you before the gods…You answered me when I called to you; with your strength you strengthened me; Even though you are so high above, you care for the lowly…When I am surrounded by troubles, you keep me safe. You will do everything you have promised; Lord, your love is eternal. Complete the work that you have begun.” (Psalm 138)
Often the prayer of “thank you” is the best one of all.