I am 36 today and I love it. If my 36th year is anything like my 35th year then I might just lose my mind (in a good way). I have reflected on what has made my 35th year of life so amazing and I could list a multitude of really cool experiences. I could talk about the way working for Kippo has made a difference in my life. I could name a number of amazing people I have met, and talk about established relationships that are going really well. But when I really try and get to the core of what has made this year so different than years before, it is gratitude.
As a person, I am a naturally sarcastic and probably even a bit cynical. I am not good at sugar coating and can be offensive, unintentionally of course. But this year I have been intentional about gratitude and it has changed me. It has made me calmer, more at peace, less stressed and much more compassionate.
Gratitude is not what we think it is. When we are small children we are taught that gratitude is to say thank you when you receive something. “What do you say?” “Thank you.” We learn that gratitude is an automatic response and, at least for me, it was empty. Gratitude is an active practice, not a passive response. When that clicks, it’s a game changer.
When I am traveling, I no longer feel a flight delay is an inconvenience, but an opportunity to start a new novel or spend more time with who I am with. When the giant springs on my garage door broke and I was locked in the house all day, I got organized and accomplished a lot of mundane projects that needed to get done. And when my friend’s dog pooped in my car on the way to get Easter bunny pictures taken, there was no stress… I just cleaned it up. You might be thinking to yourself, this has nothing to do with gratitude, you are just getting good at turning lemons into lemonade. That may be true, but it’s not the real story.
Practicing being truly thankful, feeling it deep in your soul, when things don’t go as planned is essential to crushing a bad attitude. I am thankful that I can travel. I am thankful that I have a garage, a car, and now time to do things that need to get done. I am thankful that I have a friend who also wants to take her dog to get Easter bunny photos.
Looking at life through the goggles of gratitude has changed me and afforded me my best year yet. I don’t always succeed, but that’s why it’s a practice. I know the 36th year of my life will be even better than my 35th year because, I am getting better at practicing gratitude. I’ve mastered the downward dog of gratitude and am moving on to doing a gratitude handstand.
I hope you will be encouraged to practice gratitude too. Get out there, be strong, active, thankful and have some chips and salsa in honor of my birthday (I am not really a cake person).