Some days it’s damn hard to be grateful. To be truly grateful for small things is life changing, it is scientifically proven. Think of three good things right now:
1. A good thing that has happened today, no matter how small.
2. Something that is going well in your life.
3. Notice something you really appreciated recently.
Go on, I challenge you to.
If you have done that, there is a shift in your brain that has occurred and you have become part of the positive psychology revolution. If you carry on doing this over several days and make it a ‘Happiness Habit’. The frontal cortex of your brain actually changes shape, the muscles become stronger and you are literally training yourself to be more aware of the good things in your life.
I know all this. I believe it. I live it. I study it. But. Some days I am so flat I cannot stand. Even the word grateful is too heavy to hold. I am a small flat black rectangle – not skin black. Matt black – flat black – a black with no depth – chalkboard black – grim reaper black. On those days, shutting my eyes can make my head spin on it’s internal roller coaster. So I stare at my discarded books, sweat stained washing and try to find the small voice under it all. Chasing the teensy tinny , grief yielding whine beneath wall paper, in the grain of the floor boards, I have lost myself. Buried under successful Facebook statuses, or triumphant Twitter announcements. A persistent tapping of:
Knowing I have been battered by waves for days on end. I’m cold and hard and made of rock. A full stop. Demanding and dictatorial. It’s ok to be still, yet it grabs me by the throat and leaves me choking for air.
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Erlend Schei)
Day follows night. Light follows darkness. Death follows life. This constant duality, leaves me in a pit of snakes. How to feel gratitude when the weight of a luxurious life leaves a guilty metallic taste in every privileged mouthful?
Gratitude has to be authentic. It needs to come from a place of connecting with what is happening in my real life and not my life in comparison with others. I know I should be on my knees grateful for every damn day I live. I live in a city free from war. I have opportunities at every street corner. I do not worry about having food on my plate, or in my children’s mouths. I know I live in a society that is materially rich.
On the days my mind is taken apart by my bodies inability to move, it’s important to remember to listen to the hidden voice, amidst the should, could and must. The smell of a perfume that brings me into the present moment. The time I took to savour the drink I was able to swallow before beginning my day. An authentic moment to connect to the freedom I have to think my own thoughts. These are the things I am grateful for. On the days when I truly cannot bear to acknowledge these things, it’s time to rest. Delegate. Get help. Notice. Trust there is a difference between giving up and knowing when I’ve had enough. I’m not a rule follower, I’m not always grateful. Trust me though, it’s essential to pack a working torch when you go on an adventure into the dark.