This whole summer, since July 4th weekend, has been a downer for me. I have been sick with a chronic sinus infection ever since then, been on way too many rounds of medication, my birthday sucked, my sweet sports car got crunched, I had to have sinus surgery, then Hurricane Harvey decimated my hometown and flooded my house.
Hard to find the gratitude in all of the muck and mire (literally) that has been my life for the past three-plus months, and especially the last 30+ days since we flooded.
I am still living in a home with no flooring, walls torn up at least 2’ from the floor all throughout, some walls totally gutted and ceilings gone, nothing on the walls, and all but the bare essentials packed up and moved into storage. My OCD is in overdrive because of the chaos that is my home.
But it could have been worse. So I am grateful.
While I was sleeping through the storm with my dogs (doped up on pain meds because my sinus surgery was literally the day before it hit), neighbors across the highway from me were fleeing their homes in waist-deep and sometimes neck-deep water. A dear friend called me frantic at 2AM, wanting to know who she should call to rescue her elderly mother, who was now on the 2nd floor of her home and the water was coming up the staircase.
The stories we heard in the next few days were harrowing compared to what we experienced.
The evening that the storm was coming onshore, my husband brought me my rain boots to keep by the bed in the event the water was deeper when we woke up (it was barely coming into the house when I laid down at 11PM). It was over ankle deep when we got up, and stayed that way for over 2 days. While my wood plank flooring floated all over the house, we tried to save what furniture we could. We were moving in slow motion, like zombies in the Apocalypse, not really knowing what to do or where to go, assuming we could even leave our neighborhood.
But it could have been worse.
While we lost a few pieces of furniture and all of our flooring, some neighbors and friends had water up to the rooftop and lost everything. My niece, who is getting married soon, lost her entire house (thank goodness the wedding dress was NOT there). Some people lost their lives.
So after the initial shock of it all started to wane, and I could go a full day without crying hysterically at feeling so overwhelmed with everything (and still feeling horrible from the surgery I was not able to adequately recover from), I had to stop and think.
I am grateful.
I am grateful for the rescues that we watched from our kitchen window, as civilian strangers came and launched their boats from our front yard and got people out of their flooded homes all around us, with just the clothing on their back and their pets.
I am grateful that first responders and military came from all over, leaving their own homes to come and help people here that they do not know. Some of them had flooded homes as well, but felt the call of duty stronger than dealing with their own situations.
I am grateful for my daughter and her fiancé, who dropped everything to come to our house and help us pack up what we could, rip out wet floors and walls, clean up our pool that looked like a lagoon, and worked tirelessly for days to make sure my husband and I were alright. They never complained, never asked for anything, and never listened to us when we said “go home and rest, we are fine.”
I am grateful for all of the mission trips I went on over the last 15 years, helping people who had experienced the same thing I was now going through, helping them sort through their lives, decide what to keep and what to discard, and leaving it all on the curb like trash. Now I know how it feels to be the recipient of that kind of help. And I had often wondered, as I did that work for others, how I would feel if it were me who needed the help. Now I know.
And I am grateful.
I am grateful for the tears that I am shedding as I sit and write this article, knowing that now they are tears of joy and gratitude, and not stress and worry. We are going to be fine. I can cry now knowing that God has truly walked with us through this, and will be by our sides until we are finished rebuilding.
I am grateful because I know that it could have been so much worse.
We could be the people living in the “tent city” in the parking lot of our local Civic Center. But we are living in our home still, even though it is a bit torn up. We are home.
We could be without jobs because our offices flooded or employers shut down and let us go. But we are both still gainfully employed and did not suffer any loss of income because of this event.
We could be homeless. We could be displaced far from our families. But we aren’t.
And I am grateful.
If you are in a time of your life where you are finding it hard to be grateful, be encouraged by this: God spoke to me loud and clear in the depths of my sorrow and helped me to see His hand in this. A friend came over to check on us and as I cried she prayed over me, and quoted the scripture about how God cares for the tiny sparrows, and how He considers us to be of so much more worth than sparrows. When she went to leave and I opened the front door, the largest flock of sparrows I have ever seen was in my front yard, and the door startled them so they took off in a flutter. I knew without a doubt that God was showing me that He is with us and we will be fine.
And I am grateful.
Thank you for reading,
By Ellen Rich, Holistic Life Coach and Founder
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
~ Melody Beattie
#1. Gratitude is something many of us don’t really understand
When I first ran across the concept of gratitude, it wasn’t clear to me. Did it mean saying thank-you, was it a religious notion or did it connote paying it forward? Is there something special about gratitude; is being grateful synonymous to being a good person or is it something we feel only when pressed? It seemed obtuse and I never was able to use it as a word or feel it within my body.
As I think back over my life, one situation where I felt gratitude in my heart and throughout my body was after my mother passed away. We had become very close in the years I was her caregiver. Our sharing as mother and daughter shifted, as we became close friends and changed roles.
Devastated at her passing, I wailed and cried. After the 2- year mark passed, I started remembering things that she had done for me my entire life. She birthed me, protected me, encouraged me, and stood by me in several grueling situations. I now carry her in my heart and she is with me 24/7- always there to give me guidance. This is how I define gratitude.
#2. An unclear focus can be shifted with gratitude
We all experience uncomfortable to extremely painful situations. Just the other day I had someone get upset with me because I hit the wrong emoji button (thumbs down) in a text message and couldn’t correct it. Feedback from others told me this was devastating for this person. I had no idea and said I was sorry. Too late, the damage was done.
I was miffed and got progressively upset as I thought about what had happened. There was really nothing I could do. And that was my “ticket” to gratitude. Several feelings arose that I could feel in my heart including my need to be liked and that maybe there was a better way to spend my time. As I sat with this, I began to feel gratitude and my anger dissipated. I was grateful as now I had time to do another project that meant more to me.
#3. Gratitude can impact the quality of your life
The impact can include emotions, physical condition and aging, support systems, and mental capabilities. There may be parts you have denied or hidden away. To be a complete person with the best quality of life, total integration of your being will help during the rough patches.
Gratitude is more than material wealth or the perfect body. These will not improve the quality of your life. Gratitude is something that shifts your entire life. Sometimes because you have selflessly helped someone and received incomparable joy, you begin to recognize gratitude in your life.
We listen to the people on TV that have weathered the hurricanes and property devastation this year. They say that by helping another they feel better and are very grateful despite their personal problems. It’s the only thing they can possibly do. They see no other choice.
Recently, there was a massive killing of 58 (as of this writing) by one gunman. Over 500 were injured. With no one in charge, everyone was on their own. But something magical happens within disasters. People put their lives aside to aid victims, cover bodies to save someone else and take a bullet and run right into fire to give people time to escape. All involved seemed grateful for helping a fellow human being.
#4. Gratitude can improve your happiness factor
“Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons from the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough from the University of Miami, have committed much of their research careers to studying the effects of gratitude.
“In one such study, the researchers asked a group of people to write a few sentences every week about a particular topic. One group was instructed to write about things that didn’t make them happy. Another was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for. And the control group was instructed to write about things that had occurred but with no focus towards being positive or negative.
The results? The group that was instructed to write about things that they were grateful for was far happier and optimistic about their lives than the group that had focused on things that had occurred in a negative light. When we’re grateful for things, it’s a natural occurrence to be happier about life. You realize the things you have rather than the things you don’t.”
#5. How gratitude can lighten or reduce your inner most fears
We all have fears, but often we live with or suppress them until they “pop out” again. Fear comes at us when we feel out of control. We dwell on the past and get depressed or project into the future and feel anxious. Most people don’t fix these feelings. The mother who picks the car up for a trapped child, the underage girl who pursues her rapist, and the gang banger who leaves his street tribe; love or fear, is their motivation and this can result in gratitude.
#6. Faith? Religion? Spirituality?
According to several online sources (Google search) there are around 4,500 religions in the world. This does not include the off shoots or others that aren’t mainstream. With time and changing needs this number varies.
Everyone on the planet has a slightly different definition of their faith, religion, spirituality or none. Can nothing have a defination in the grand scheme of things gratitude can transform your life by linking you to something greater than to yourself (ego).
“We’re born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”
Thank you for reading,
After working in the corporate world for 30+ years, Ellen started a Holistic Life Coaching program. Called act2.expert (www.act2.expert), it is a Holistic Life Coaching Program that allows the client drive the process in a safe and comfortable environment. Ellen has a BA, MBA, many certificates and has attended Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy.
Gratitude has been a daily practice in my life and an integral part of my life coaching practice. It is virtually impossible for me to feel suffering when I am in the space of gratitude. In April of 2017 my son was involved in a bad motorcycle accident. I received a call from a stranger from my son’s cell phone at 8:30 a.m. telling me he just saw my son get hit by an SUV, he was lying lifeless in the middle of an intersection and he wasn’t sure if he was alive, he said paramedics were on the scene, then click, he hung up. He had picked up my son’s phone which flew out of his pocket on impact and dialed Mom. I was walking my dog at the time and I just started running home. By the time I arrived, I was absolutely hysterical. I knew he was dead, I just knew it and I wanted to get to my husband before he left for work. I raced up the stairs calling my husband’s name and he was just getting out of the shower. I stood in our bedroom while he held me dripping wet, while I sobbed uncontrollably. All I could choke out was “he’s dead, he’s dead, oh my god he’s dead”. My husband was in shock, I was inconsolable. A police officer called me shortly thereafter and told me that my son was involved in an accident, he was on an ambulance to the hospital. I knew then he was alive, but no further information. After many agonizing hours wondering what the damage was, wondering if he was brain dead or if he had suffered a spinal cord injury, we found out his jaw was broken in multiple places and would have to be wired shut, his pelvis cracked like an egg, and his left arm (dominant hand) was broken in 4 places, down to the wrist. When you walk into the ICU and witness your child lying there literally in pieces, I can’t describe the flood of emotions I experienced. It shakes you to your core. He went through 3 surgeries in 4 days. On day 5 he was sent home.
Our lives changed drastically. For months, he was confined to bed or a wheelchair. He was in excruciating pain, and he had to take his meals through a straw. He moved back into our home for the duration of his recovery, which was hard for all of us on so many levels. There were nights where his pain was so intense, all I could do was crawl into bed next to him and hold his hand and just hold space for him. The doctor forgot to put an ID number on the pain killer prescription so he had to go an entire day without pain meds his first day home. I can’t describe the frustration we experienced watching our kid suffer and we couldn’t do a damn thing about it except give him over the counter meds until they straightened it out. I had to remind myself of my blessings and run through my list of things I was grateful for daily to keep myself from going deep into negative thoughts or emotions. I was grateful he was alive, he wasn’t permanently confined to bed or a wheelchair. I knew this was temporary. I was thankful I wasn’t planning his funeral.
Some friends of ours had lost their son, who is the same age the month before, so as we went to my son’s apartment to get clothes and his gaming systems and TV to bring to our house, my husband and I felt sick thinking we could be packing his place up because we had lost him. It was intensely emotional gathering his clothes and belongings the day before he was released. I stepped completely away from my work for 3 months. My life revolved around dispensing medication and making smoothies, helping him get to doctor’s appointments and basically just 24/7 constant care.
Through gratitude I found peace. Gratitude is almost like a prayer practice for me. The feeling I get is one of being lifted as if 100 balloons are clipped to my shirt pulling me up out of the darkness. Gratitude is the elixir for suffering. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the negativity and stress but I chose to ride the wave, roll over and go to the place of acceptance. I got very intentional about my gratitude practice. I didn’t dwell in the shadows, I tried to focus on the light. Some days were harder than others.
The empathy I have for others has created a deep compassion for their suffering, but also created compassion for myself and my own suffering. I’ve allowed that suffering to bubble to the surface in me and I ask myself, what I am to learn from this experience? Rather than wallow in my pain, I make my list of things I’m grateful for. When I am in that space of thankfulness, I am so focused on the blessings in my life, there is no space for the pain, if only momentarily. I transcended my suffering by practicing gratitude. There were days, when my son and I would be fighting. Both short on sleep, edgy because he didn’t want to be dependent on his mom, me feeling unappreciated, like a cook and maid and nothing more, man tempers would flare. I would have to take a walk around the block with the dog and think “I’m so lucky he is alive for me to get pissed off at”! It would be like hitting a reset button and I could come back and bear the weight of what was ahead of me. I encourage you to begin a gratitude practice when you are in a space of anxiety, or stress or anger or depression. 21 days straight of practicing gratitude will change you in a way you never thought possible. Just a slight shift will set you on a completely new path and I hope that it is a path from darkness to light.
Until next time, with love …….Wendy x
About Wendy Hutchinson:
Alinea Life Coaching
Breaking through into Gratitude
Article for the Missing Piece Magazine
by Trilby Johnson, Author and Body Energy Alchemist
There’s so much hype around ‘gratitude’ and how important it is. While this may be true, for a long time in my life, I struggled with gratitude. It’s not that I didn’t want to be grateful – I did, however, keeping with my own integrity and honesty, I knew I wasn’t there yet! And quite frankly, faking it until I made it, wasn’t working for me either. This often left me confused and feeling guilty – was there something wrong with me that I couldn’t feel gratitude? I was in a transformational pickle and for some time did not know which way to turn! Have you ever felt like this and wondered what’s going on or how to change it?
Quite simply, as the individual you are, the way in which you experience events and gratitude, is totally exclusive to you. So when presented with a new concept, it’s up to you to find the doorway in. Here are some of clues I followed that helped me to break through into gratitude, in a way that felt genuine and empowering.
- Defining Gratitude
Very often, due to indoctrination and socialization, you can get pulled into the definition of the ‘group consciousness’ around different concepts. Gratitude, is simply one example. So what does gratitude mean for you?
As humans, there is a tendency to want to classify information. For the most part, the linguistic or language meaning is used, as a form of creating easier understanding and cognitive cohesion. On the surface this works. However, this only addresses the mental aspects of definitions. There is another level of definition, commonly called semantics, or in other words, meaning. Take a look at what’s underneath the gratitude.
The way your brain stores data is very much linked to the emotional charge of the events in your life. When strong emotions are involved, then defining gratitude becomes a whole different kettle of fish. If you were to stop and imagine yourself being grateful, what would that look like, feel like, sound like to you? Follow these clues. I suggest one way of how, in point two.
- Feel Your Way
Trust your feelings because they are your compass. If even feeling gratitude feels off, then all it is showing you, is that you haven’t yet found your way. Often there is a tendency to judge this as right or wrong, which can create a wedge between where you are and feeling gratitude. This is the reason that defining what gratitude embodies for you is essential, otherwise it simply will not stick and keeps you stuck.
If you feel that gratitude means giving up, faking it, lying to yourself, making another part of you feel wrong and it’s greedy to ask for more – then you will sabotage yourself in some way. It’s important to look at all the aspects that go into an attitude of gratitude – for you. And when along the way, it feels off for you, keep going and ask for clarity as you move forward. Feel your way – it’s your best bet!
- Use Manners
Your words matter! They really do. Do you consciously say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you want or receive something? This may appear an ‘old fashioned’ way of doing things, however, I am a firm believer in ‘old wisdom’.
The way you are speaking to others, is an outward reflection of how you speak to yourself – it shows what kind of a mind-map you have. Everything is within and this includes the capacity to gift and receive – and the code words to access these states are ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
As a child, I was taught that if I wanted something, to ask and say ‘please’. And when I received something, to say ‘thank you’. Only much later as an adult did I observe, that when I consciously applied these to my intentions and desires, there was a distinct shift in the energy dynamic. Almost as if the Universe stopped and paid attention to what I was going to say and do.
Using manners helps to cultivate a ‘walk the talk’ behaviour! When I use my manners, I am acknowledging the divine aspect within myself and my capacity to co-create with Life itself. I am honouring my Self. This allows more ease and joy and a feeling of being ‘great-full’.
- Make your Life a Gratitude Journal
A very powerful and practical way to create the possibility of breaking through into gratitude in my experience, is with a gratitude journal. I found it really helpful to focus on writing down things I was grateful for. It helped me to count my blessings and give them form. However, please don’t let keeping a journal be the end result. It’s the starting point! Apply this ‘gratitude’ in your daily life and interactions and communications with others.
In my personal experience, to fully integrate a mindset, takes conscious direction. This is about applying mental and often abstract concepts with focus. This helped me to move through the struggle and meet gratitude in a pragmatic and tangible way that worked for me. And so can you!
Remember, gratitude is a process and as such, you simply cannot force your way into it. By connecting to the essence of what gratitude feels like for you, then you will have your unique form of gratitude. You do this by systematically assessing your feelings and observing what comes up for you.
Adjust. Align. Choose.
As you move forward with each step you are feeling your way and breaking through into gratitude.
p.s. Read my reverse psychology blog on gratitude https://trilbyjohnsontheconnective.com/how-to-successfully-become-ungrateful/
Trilby Johnson is an Author, Speaker and Body Energy Alchemist. She specializes in supporting individuals to resolve their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual trauma and pain and create a new genuine sense of self, health, peace and joy.
She is the founder of her own successful business Trilby Johnson – The Connective and through her work and writing supports her clients in attaining their next level of expertise, with her gentle yet effective methods that she has gained from over 25 years of experience in Behavioural Psychology and the healing arts.
Trilby is a successful Author of two books: ‘Fearlessly Alone: Stop the Lonely Crisis and Find Your Happy’ and her collection of original quotes ‘A-Ha Moments: Inspirational Quotes To Shift Your Thinking’
She has a degree in Psychology and is certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Reiki, DNA Activation, Meta-Coaching, Holistic Massage and Advanced Healing Processes. Trilby seeks to continually transform her own life and uses all her tools personally.
Her days are spent following her joys: writing, travelling, guest speaking, reading, star gazing, enjoying her organic garden and country lifestyle.
To get in touch with Trilby go to:
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We say thank you all the time. There are so many people in our lives that help us in one way or another that we have sincere gratitude for. If we took the time to write all those names down we’d be amazed at just how long our list is.
The list is quite colorful and interesting: There are people young and old, perhaps different ethnicities and backgrounds – maybe even a stranger or two who have held a door or shared a smile just when you were having a challenging day and needed one. Others have helped with directions or recipes or projects or finances or even lending an ear or a hug when times were tough. They have wiped away tears, encouraged you, supported you, taught you, forgave you, trusted you – the list goes on and on.
The list is a beautiful tapestry of love and life. It is so special and meaningful that some would even say its sacred. The list spans months, years and decades and can easily warm your heart and put a smile on your face.
So my question to you is: “Are YOU on your list?” Have you added your own name somewhere on that list? Are you at the top? The Bottom? Somewhere in the middle? Or have you forgotten to even acknowledge your own self and add your name? It’s not too late, you know. Even if you HAVE made the list you can ALWAYS add more things that you are thankful for that YOU were directly involved with.
First and foremost, make sure you acknowledge the fact that you are allowed to be on your own list. You have been there every second of every experience. Why not be grateful for all of THAT?!
This list may be somewhere in your head or in your heart. My challenge for you today is to make it a reality. You can start small. Find a piece of paper that you can dedicate to this exercise or print the one that goes along with this post. On that list write 10 names, and YES one of the names HAS to be YOURS!
For yourself- write down 5 things that you are grateful for that happened in your life that you had a direct role in accomplishing. Next list 1 extra special person and list 3 things about them. Lastly pick 8 more people and next to their name write 1 thing that you are grateful for.
Me: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
A Special Person: 1. 2. 3.
Person 3: Person 4: Person 5:
Person 6: Person 7: Person 8:
This will fill up the page and allow you to see how many beautiful things are in your life. It can help you to shift your focus on positive things and even prime your psyche to expand on things or start new adventures. If you like to doodle or are into mind mapping you can draw (or cut and paste) pictures next to each person representing how you feel about them and what you are thankful for. Decorate this sheet of paper however you’d like. Keep it in a place that you can look at often. Perhaps you’d like to make a small copy of it to keep in your purse or wallet or on your bathroom mirror.
From time to time or when you get a chance you can always make another list or 2 and before long you will have a collection of dozens of people and things that you are grateful for!
I am grateful that you stopped by to read this today, thank you. I wish you a magnificent day full of gratitude!
Do download the worksheet I have for you right HERE!
Donna Davis holds a Master Degree in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy from Seton Hall University and cherishes the journey of life, learning and the pursuit of dark chocolate all over the world.
As an educator, author, speaker, columnist and coach, Donna Davis is a perpetual optimist dedicated to helping women thrive and enjoy all that life has to offer. Donna is a modern day Change Agent disguised as The Menopause Fairy who celebrates the Magic, Mystery and Mayhem of Midlife.
Donna writes a column in The Missing Piece Magazine http://themissingpiecemagazine.com/ every month in which she coaches readers through various topics, activities and exercises related to the chosen theme for the month. As co-founder of WOmentum BuildHers https://www.facebook.com/WOmentumBuildhers/, Donna helps women to honor and celebrate themselves, find and use their voice and be able to survive all that life brings their way, allowing them to thrive and come alive in a way like never before through community, encouragement and Sisterhood.
This WOmentum BuildHER is taking bold action to educate, celebrate, and collaborate with women in all phases of life around the globe to heal, grow and come alive to “Be the best version of yourself possible!”
True Gratitude Includes Both the Good and the Bad
It is very common in new age spiritual practice to be grateful for all the good that comes our way. Indeed it is important to practice Gratitude for all that we receive. That’s the easy part and really only half the coin of gratefulness.
If we are to be true to the practice of real Gratitude we also need to be thankful for those things that happen to us that may be deemed as ‘bad’ – The ‘shit happens’ stuff of life. It may seem odd that we would practice Gratitude for these types of happenings;
Loss of Ability
Loss of a Home
Yet, if we are unwilling to face these types of events and over time be grateful for them we are not really practicing Gratitude at all. We may be practicing appreciation for the ‘good’, while we avoid the ‘bad’ at all costs. And besides how can we possibly be grateful for the loss of a loved one?
Well, let me tell you a story.
My late sister Jody died back in 1988 and initially I was anything but grateful! I was angry, confused, sad, guilty, lost – anything but grateful. Jody’s death really shook the foundation of my life to the point that I changed careers and set out on my journey of social / human work as opposed to my investment finance career. Jody’s death actually re-birthed me! Her death breathed new life into me.
And over time a deep sense of Gratitude overtook me. I couldn’t believe I was indeed grateful for my sister’s passing. And yet I was. I still missed her deeply and was still grieving her death, yet at the same time this profound sense of Gratitude was right there beside the sadness and the missing.
Without my sister death I would likely still be in the investment finance business. I am so grateful I was willing to let her death wake me up to my greater potential. And yes on special dates like Christmas and her birthday I still miss her deeply. In may sound odd this combination of sadness and missing coupled with gratitude and yet they co-exist in me to this very day.
When I look back at all the ‘shit’ that has happening in my life and approach it from the practice of Gratitude I always find the gift beside the loss, and the gift when I accept it always enhances my living. It never fails to surprise me.
My encouragement to each reader is to look closely at the ‘shit’ that has happened in your life. Now, with the grace of some time passed look at the loss and then also for the gift that the loss left behind. Look for how your life changed because of the ‘death’. There will be something there to be grateful for right beside the pain of the loss itself.
Gratitude for all things is a real practice and one that is most worthy of attempting.
Thank you for reading,
Over the past decade I have spoken to groups as large as 1,200 people and more intimate groups from 15 to 200 folks. I have spoken in person at conferences such as IdeaCity, Double D’s Death and Dying Conference, the Ageing and Spirituality Conference in Los Angeles, the Bereavement Ontario Networks 25th Annual Conference, along with numerous radio and television shows.
I currently work with such organizations as hospices, professional continuing education organizations, colleges, communities, and churches creating tailor-made workshops to suit each group’s unique needs and learning styles. Learn more at www.stephengarrett.ca/