by Melissa Brooks-Cuffee, B.S.
We have all experienced moments of ingratitude. In these moments, we forget how fortunate we are to have the blessings in our lives. We focus on the satiation of our wants more so than the actuality of our needs. Sure, traffic is jammed and getting home on time will be impossible, but some people will not make it home at all; others do not even have a place to call home. Maybe your husband has neglected the trash yet again; try complaining about that to the widow who would trade with you in a heartbeat.
Moments like these are not our finest, for they showcase the selfish side of us, the side we would rather avoid or forget. However, these occurrences are strategically placed in our lives to serve a higher purpose and to teach the valuable lesson that we are all a work in progress. No matter your station in life, or your position in life’s journey, there is always room for improvement. We can always make a “gratitude adjustment.”
- Start by counting your blessings. November marks “A Month of Gratitude”. Try demonstrating an attitude of gratitude every day. Make a conscious effort to say thank you. Keep a journal to record your reflections of gratitude. Do this well beyond the month of November. Eventually an appreciation for things large and small will come to you as effortlessly as breathing.
- Let your gratitude remain pure and undiluted—be thankful for all that you do and do not have. Realize that everyone has struggles, and that you probably would not want to trade. Even the folks in New York and New Jersey, who long endured the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, would tell you that it could have been worst. With a death toll of nearly 100, I’m certain the survivors of the storm were simply thankful to be alive.
- Take a step back and examine yourself. Pay attention to the way you express yourself. Do you speak with a grateful heart? If not, from this point forward, speak with sweetness. Are your words indicative of your actions? They should be. Make a conscious effort to do good deeds. Recognize that there is strength in both the things you say and the things you do—use that power wisely.
- Become friends with the triggers that place you in a position of ingratitude, and forgive yourself for your imperfections. By familiarizing yourself with the things that render you ungrateful, you are easily able to cast them aside. Once you have taken stock of your failings, be okay with admitting that they do exist. Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” In the spirit of restoration, forgive yourself, and go forward in gratitude.
Any adjustment takes time and repetition. Adjusting your gratitude can be an arduous task. Be patient with yourself and embrace these words of encouragement. Let them move your forward, and when in doubt, start back at the beginning.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004.