You might not know this, as much as I talk about the importance of gratitude, but as a child/teenager/twenty-something, I was a real brat.
A entitled, selfish, manipulative brat.
I’m not being overly-dramatic here, just ask my mum about the many family holidays I ruined, or the many times I wished to have never been born because Dad wouldn’t give me another lift.
I was entirely consumed by my own thoughts, wants and supposed limitations. I saw only the negative, in myself and those around me; what I didn’t have; how my life didn’t measure up to what I presumed other people’s lives were like. As for family, I saw only people who were entirely different from me, forcing me to live under rules to which I had never agreed.
Today, things are thankfully different. Imperfect as they may be, I’m wildly grateful to have a family who are kind, loving, supportive, genuine, funny, creative and generous… (and the list goes on.) They’re a big part of the gratitude that I feel is amplified around this time of year.
So what changed? How did I become more grateful?
Well, #adulting definitely helped. Learning to balance bills and chores and work and blaaaa certainly opened my eyes to what my parents were going through; things that I never saw because I was so focused on myself.
Becoming a teacher widened my eyes too. Over the years, I encountered many children who live in homes where they frequently feel hungry, cold, unloved or unsafe; children whose family lives make mine look like, ‘the Brady Bunch.’ I realise that just as some children will carry the scars of childhood into later life, I am still reaping the benefits of the emotional comfort and love that I was given as a child. This knowledge alone makes me feel incredibly fortunate.
And this brings me into my final point – that I am indeed more grateful, these days, because I practise gratitude.
For years now, I’ve been writing down at least three things every day that I’m grateful for and then another three good things I experienced at the end of the day. As such, my mind is significantly quicker at noticing the good stuff – what I have, rather than what I don’t.
They say that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d have known how lucky I was back then, had I trained myself to be so earlier on; had I trained myself to actually see the good stuff.
For me, this is the key to knowing what you’ve got, when you’ve still got it.
Think about it folks. Today could be the best day of your life – a day that you look back on in years/decades as a happier time.
It’d be a crying shame to let it pass by without really appreciating it as it happens.