Thanksgiving has me thinking a lot about where gratitude shows up for me. My life is really flipping amazing. I’m not saying that to brag, I genuinely love it. It’s easy to feel grateful for all the good things. To bask in the bright, shiny wins. When I have the perfect ride, taste delicious food, or feel the sun shining on my back while hiking – how the heck could I not be grateful?
But what about all the stuff that it’s hard to feel grateful for. All the times when it would be so much easier to stay stuck feeling angry. That, in particular, is where I need to focus a bit more energy. I don’t want to just shift away from my struggles by just thinking of a good time whenever I’m faced with something difficult. I want to be able to genuinely find gratitude in that present painful moment.
Knowing that I have to choose between feeling grateful OR feeling angry makes me change how I see anger. It takes on a new value. In the moments I choose to be resentful and annoyed I’m deciding that those feelings are more valuable to me than feeling grateful. Stop and think about all the petty things that are holding more value than gratitude. It’s easy to let those go, gratitude wins hands down. Now take a breath and think about all the truly difficult things, the ones closest to your soul, the ones gripped by heartfelt injustice and passion for a greater cause. This is where the effort of channeling true gratitude needs to start. If these challenges are to become a catalyst for growth there must be a shift away from anger. The value of gratitude must outweigh the value of anger. Embrace the belief that everything in life is happening for us. Even the crappy stuff that makes us really angry.
I’d like to create a gratitude list with insight- snuggly puppies, flat tires, computer crashes, the smell of horses, and laughing till my face hurts; running twenty-five minutes late, perfectly fitting jeans, and dropping my cell phone in the horse tank; feeling heartbroken about the state of the world, truly experiencing the beauty of nature, and finding the kind of love that puts fairytales to shame, grieving for all injustice being done to humans, animals, and the earth, and wrap it all up with appreciation for my big vulnerable open heart that feels every wave of energy around me. Oh yeah, and courage-anyone with a big open heart better be grateful for the courage it takes to let the universe in.
I believe this is the kind of gratitude list that has the power to change one’s understanding of the world.
Ps. I’m also deeply grateful for all of the horses that have ever lived and the beautiful humans who love them. You are appreciated beyond words.