Practicing Gratitude: An Experiment

Recently, the word gratitude has popped up a lot; enough for me to take notice. It’s been in my Newsfeed (on FB, not the actual news sadly), in my books, and in my new favorite obsession, The Magnolia Journal. In fact, gratitude is the focus of their fall issue, and I just love love love it. JoJo (yes, I call her that because obviously we are BFFs) wrote a beautiful piece on consciously practicing gratitude, finding reasons to be grateful in the midst of our seemingly ordinary lives. And she challenged her readers to be intentional in practicing gratitude. Apparently this is not a thing that comes easily, which is sad, but also makes sense. It’s in our human nature to take things and people and situations for granted. However, gratitude shouldn’t just be a thing reserved for November. We should be purposeful in taking notice of our many blessings and realize that we do, in fact, have much to be thankful for.IMG_3952

True confession time: I am a GREAT complainer. Like a professional one. I could actually make a 6-figure salary if only a job existed in which the sole responsibility is to whine and moan about everything. Just ask my dad, he’ll tell you all kinds of embarrassing stories of me during my teenage years (and also probably yesterday). I complain about the weather a lot; I can’t stand anything over about 90°F or anything less than 50°. I complain about both the firmness and softness of mattresses and pillows almost simultaneously. I complain about food having calories and TV shows making me wait an impossible amount of time for them to release a new episode (I’m looking at you, This Is Us). I complain about too little sleep and insects in my general vicinity and skinny jeans that stretch out too much after one wear. I mean, not to brag, but I have a really strong complaining game.

Still, Joanna Gaines has issued me a challenge, so thus begins my foray into gratitude. Here goes:

  1. Instead of complaining that I have to scrub toilets and vacuum (easily the two most annoying tasks in the history of ever), I will practice being thankful that I own a home with toilets and floors that occasionally get dirty or covered in dog hair dust hamsters and snack crumbs from our silly pets and adorable children. A home that is cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. A home where we host friends and family and cuddle on the couch and rest and recharge.
  2. Instead of complaining about traffic on the way to my daughter’s school, I will practice gratitude by being thankful that I have a working car and that I was able to find the best little school I could for my sweet girl who absolutely loves to learn. For the time we have in the car to sing show tunes and “church songs” together or talk about the colors of the sunrise or count the train cars or just hear one more, “I love you, Mommy” before she gets out and starts her day.
  3. Instead of complaining that our new house is taking FOREVER to build (it’s really not, it just feels like it is), I will be thankful for the remaining time I have to be close to dear friends and the time to pack and clean and organize the way I need to. 

  4. Instead of complaining that complex carbs go right to my butt and usually make me feel terrible, I will practice gratitude by being thankful that my body loves and craves fresh fruits and veggies (and bacon- never forget bacon!). And that we have such food available and that I actually enjoy cooking. I’m grateful for my mom who not only taught me basics of the kitchen like scrambled eggs and green chile enchiladas and cinnamon rolls, but who is also brave enough to try complicated recipes with a thousand ingredients when she comes to visit me. Cooking with her and now with my daughter are some of my most cherished times.
  5. And last, instead of complaining on the days when my dear husband walks in the door an hour (or 2) later than he should because of traffic or a situation at work or an appointment, I will be intentionally thankful that he works so hard for us so that I can do what I do here. That he pours himself into his work and still offers the best of himself to me and the kids when he gets home. That he still helps do dishes and laundry and that he still greets me with a flirty kiss and a warm hug every day. That I get to be married to my best friend and do life with him. PS…Isn’t he handsome??

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    Photo Cred: Shelley Foster

I know that gratitude will not always be my attitude. I’m human (and like I said, a great complainer), and it seems so much easier to grumble than to whisper a “thank you”. But simply keeping the art of thankfulness in the forefront makes life so much brighter. In fact, just this morning, after nursing the baby, he projectile vomited all over me, our bed, and my hair (thankfully NOT the iPhone). In my previous life, this would have thrown me into a complete tizzy: phone calls, sub plans, negotiating with the hubby who would stay, who would go. I’d be sweating and frantic. Instead, I calmly cleaned baby up, took a hot shower, started the laundry, and found myself so incredibly thankful that I’m staying home to make unexpected days like these manageable. See? I’m getting better at this gratitude thing already.

IMG_3953Currently Reading: Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker. I just love her. Her collection of essays is honest, straightforward, and inclusive of all people everywhere. For a Christian author, I find her perspective refreshing and real, despite criticism she receives for her political views and “outspokenness”. Plus, she’s FUNNY! I love any writer who can make me laugh out loud.

Currently Baking: Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies- recipe here. These are SO GOOD. And we had the best time making them together! I’m usually a nuts-ruin-the-cookie kind of girl, but the toasted pecans totally made these and of course we had to have some samples along the way!

 

Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.

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