I remember a time many years ago, when I was struggling with early sobriety.
I was on my way home from a shopping trip with my two young sons in the car. It was February, school had just gone back and in New Zealand it’s mid summer in February. Auckland has hot, muggy semi-tropical summers, so we were all hot and tired and cranky and were planning to leave the groceries at home and then go for a swim in the local school pool.
The line of traffic we sat in came to a sudden halt. The screech of ambulance sirens from the local ambulance station could be heard in the distance. Up ahead of us, I could see the blue and red of flashing lights. I knew that we were going to be sat here for quite a while. All I could think about was the frozen food in the boot of the car busily melting--along with us.
I wanted and needed to get to that swimming pool.
I also had an overwhelming and terrifying urge to take a drink of alcohol.
I fought that urge the way I’d been taught. I knew it would eventually leave me, but my entire body craved a substance that I knew I shouldn’t ever touch again. All because the traffic had stopped!
I knew if I was a better mother that I’d enjoy the extra time I was having in the car with my sons, but for some reason--either the craving kicking in, or the heat and/or my frustration at not getting to do what I wanted to do--I couldn’t find my way to be the happy mother that my boys needed right that minute.
As if reading my thoughts, my youngest son said, “Mum, how many things can you find to be grateful for right now? I bet we can get to at least ten!”
His older brother, no doubt sensing the darkness of my mood said, “I’ll go first—I’m grateful it’s not us in that accident down the road.”
I couldn’t help but feel the tendrils of my bleak mood shift. My eldest son has been an old soul since the day that he was born and, for most of his life, he’s been particularly astute at measuring my moods.
While we crawled along in that line of traffic, we continued to take turns to choose things that we were grateful for. We smashed ten in no time at all and, by the time we’d gotten through the snarl up of traffic, my mood had been completely turned around.
Like me that hot February day in the car, there might be days that you find it difficult to find anything in your life to be grateful for, but tapping into gratitude has so many benefits:
Gratitude Soothes You
It’s almost impossible to be both stressed and grateful in the same moment. I proved it that day in the car waiting for the traffic to clear. While I’m very aware that you can’t always choose the way things go in your day, you can layer on positivity by practicing gratitude no matter where you are or what’s going on.
Over the years, I’ve learned that gratitude soothes my mental state, it’s also good for me physically. Having a more positive mental attitude enables me to deal with physical ups and downs in a much better way. Let me talk to you about the trials and tribulations of menopause...but that’s a whole different blog post!
Gratitude Focuses You
Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of girl? It’s so tempting to look at what you’ve got in life and decide that it’s not enough. A wise woman said to me years ago, “If I compare myself to you, we both lose!”
Your job not stimulating enough?
Car not new enough?
House not as nice as your friend's?
I’m telling you that when you embrace gratitude and focus on the things that you do have, not those that you don’t have, your perceptions change and you focus on what’s important.
Friends, family, community, good health.
Gratitude Energises You
Fallen into the victim mindset? There’s a black hole I don’t want to have to climb out of ever again!
“I’m a loser.”
“Nothing good ever happens to me.”
“Why do I even bother…”
“Life’s too hard…”
Blah, blah, blah!!!
Flip that self-defeating script with gratitude. Rewrite the script so that you become the heroine in your own story.
Gratitude has helped me to overcome any (perceived) odds and change my life. Today I love my life. I jump out of bed every morning ready to get on with the day...well, except this morning, ‘cos winter’s coming and it’s cold and we just bought some nice new fluffy sheets for the bed...it’s a nest in there, ya’know?
Gratitude offers me so much on a daily basis. It can offer those things to you too if you’re willing to do the little things each day that snowball into bigger things.
Gratitude has changed my perspective on life, it can also change yours.
You never know what great adventures may be waiting for you until you start viewing your life through the rose-tinted lens of gratitude.
Gratitude can change your whole life—if you want to find out how, check out my "Passion Pulse" here--it's a 10-minute a day introduction to my way of living. You too can have an “Attitude of Gratitude” and live life looking through the rose-coloured lens of gratitude.