Do you practice gratitude? Are you a glass half empty, or glass half full kind of person? This past week I have had several opportunities to be frustrated and angry over things that are out of my control. Our car had problems, our septic system had even bigger problems, and our washing machine broke. Yup! That old theory that things happen in threes definitely proved true for us last week! And with the stress of holiday shopping and the possibility of needing to replace our entire leach field (cha-ching), I’m not going to lie, I definitely felt myself getting depressed and down about life. But, I caught myself before I let myself go down that deep dark hole.
During this crazy week, my daughter was the one to remind me of just how much we have to be thankful for. We try to eat dinner as a family as much as possible and use it as a time to thank God for our blessings and reflect on our day. But, often it’s difficult to get my kids to sit for more than five minutes and enjoy our time together.
Last week, however, my oldest announced that she thought we should talk about what we are thankful for each night at dinner. Wow! What impressed me even more than her heart-warming idea, was that she was grateful for the rain on this particular day. Yes, it was a gloomy day with soaking rain and she was thankful for the rain because it helps things grow. My heart was beaming.
If I’m being honest with myself, I used to be the glass half empty kind of person. I let others opinions affect what I thought of myself, felt bad for myself if something didn’t go as planned, and I’ve always been my harshest critic. Now that I have children they have inspired me to work hard to better myself so that I can teach them to be kind, confident and grateful people. And clearly, it’s working! The best part is I am so much happier when I look at things from a “glass half full” perspective.
The washing machine broke, but it’s under warranty! We have awesome friends who were more than happy to let us use their washing machine. The car and the septic issues were fixed without any major problems. Yes, it cut into our Christmas funds, but we will make it work. And when you get down to it we have to remind ourselves that we are so lucky to have plumbing and washing machines, a luxury that sadly many do not have.
How I practice gratitude in my daily life
So, how can you train your mind to see the glass half full amidst the chaos? How can you find the good in any situation and remember to think positively instead of negatively? It’s clearly easier said than done, but one of the ways I do is by practicing gratitude during my morning routine. I spend about five minutes writing my thoughts for the day in a journal and then write down three things I’m grateful for. This includes little things like the sound of my white noise machine, electricity, sitting down with a good book, and the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. If you make small changes each day in your thinking, big changes in your mindset will happen over time.
Speaking of changing my mindset. When I feel myself starting to get upset about something out of my control or irritated with someone who is late or doesn’t show up, I try really hard to stop myself. I tell myself cancel, cancel and replace those thoughts with happy ones! I’ve mentioned previously that I was deeply impacted by Jack Canfield’s book, Maximum Confidence. It’s in this book that I learned about affirmations and also about canceling negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. Check out my posts on affirmations and my morning routine for more on how you can help change your mindset.
Finally, our children are the best teachers when it comes to gratitude and happiness. My youngest daughter gets so excited over playing on a playground, watching her favorite movie, or eating a piece of chocolate that she starts flapping her little arms up and down like a bird who is about to take flight. Every time I see her excitement over the little things I am reminded of how lucky I am and how the simple things in life are all we really need. It’s easy to be so busy and overwhelmed as a parent that we forget to soak in these little moments in life. I am sad to say that it took me years before I was able to do this, but now I can sit at my dinner table, look at my beautiful children and truly thank God for my miracles.
During Thanksgiving and all year, I urge you to take two minutes to show someone you are grateful today, to spend a few extra minutes focusing on your children and your partner, and to see the good in something small. You will be amazed at how much good there is to be seen and how much happiness a bit of gratitude can bring to your chaotic life.