Attitude for gratitude
Gratitude is something that greatly impacts our daily lives. It makes the difference between seeing only negative things and enjoying what we have. Let me share three very different perspectives on gratitude based on my personal experience.
Gratitude for being healty
I can’t remember who said this, but it stuck in my mind. If you are healthy, you want a hundred things. If you are sick, you only want one thing – be healthy again.
Our health is the foundation of our entire life. And yet, we do so many things that harm us, both mentally and physically.
I remember very vividly how I used to suffer from a ruptured spinal disk. For over a decade. The pain could be very subtle – enough to disturb you every single day, knowing that it could get worse at any moment. It would cut through any thought.
Or the pain could be so extreme that I could not move an inch and would stop breathing with an intense pain shock through my entire body. I remember needing help walking or lying on the floor, not being able to stand up.
Then, I got surgery back in December of 2018 and have been doing fine ever since. I felt – and still feel – reborn. Like the cards were shuffled again and I got a second chance. And I am taking it very seriously. I am doing sports regulary to maintain strong muscles for my torso.
Gratitude for other people
The Corona virus has brought my home country of Austria close to a lockdown. People are asked to stay at home and only go out for urgent errands (pharmacy, supermarket etc.).
This also means that some people still go to work and deal with dozens and hundreds of potentially infected people. They bring themselves and their loved ones in jeopardy.
I’m speaking of nurses, doctors, supermarket cashiers, police officers and many, MANY more – I can’t mention them all but certainly am thankful for their services.
A nice gesture has evolved. On social media, people are asked to go to their apartment windows at 6 pm to applaude for the people who continue doing their service.
This is indeed a wonderful idea. I go a step further and suggest you do it to. How about trying the following proposal. Yes, it has an effect on fewer people, but it’s a very strong effect on those few people it reaches.
When you go shopping, thank the cashier for their service. I’ve done it a few times these past days. You know what the reaction usually is: a HUGE smile.
I am aware that in our regular (pre- and post-Corona) lives we should be grateful for so many other people’s services. But I find that in the current situation, we should also verbalize it.
Gratitude for little things
I worked in a school project in rural India several years ago. Sometimes, I would accompany teachers to the surrounding villages and meet farmer families.
Looking at their homes, I felt devastated by the poverty. I remember my first impressions of the school barracks and how shocked I felt the first time I saw them and realized I would spend a month there. Suddenly, they seemed like a 5 star hotel in comparison.
What surprised me even more was that these people had close to nothing. But they were more than happy to share it with me. I got a cup of tea in each home and was greeted with friendly faces. People seemed to be very happy, even though they had no luxury whatsoever.
And coming back to the luxuries of Austria I noticed that we have so many luxuries and yet are constantly complaining and feel unhappy about one thing or another.
I do catch myself in the usual Viennese complain mode. But I consciously enjoy little things and am grateful and happy for what I have ever since I returned from India. Luxuries like a water tap or a light switch from time to time still make me smile and reframe the problems I had been worrying about all day long.
An attitude for gratitude does not simply happen. It requires some attention for a while. For example a reminder on your bathrrom mirror. Or a smartphone app. Or a pre-bedtime routine.
But once you get into this routine, you will notice how your perspective on life changes. You are rarely disturbed by problems or irritating factors. You start focusing on all the good things happening around you.
And with that attitude, you are much more likely to find peace of mind.