Practicing Gratitude

This past week has been one of the busier ones of a season of busy weeks. More work, less sleep, more stress and less time. Needless to say, the benefits of a fun night out with the ladies didn’t last as long as I was hoping. Dancing? Anyone? I think I need a fix. 🙂

But while this past week had its low moments… and this last month, some of the lowest I’ve had in a very long time; if I take the time to reflect, there were also some really great “high” moments.  And some good advice to consider.

“Gratitude is the greatest emotion” – I posted this on Facebook last night, remembering the motivational presentation of Isabelle Fontaine that I attended the day before.  “I used to think that love was the greatest” she said (and I’m translating/paraphrasing here) “but then someone explained to me that love is too complex and that gratitude was the only emotion that can be simply and totally positive”. The speaker encouraged us to take a moment to think about the moments in life where we so grateful and so happy to be alive.

And as I took a couple short moments to consider “gratitude”…

I thought about my daughters. I thought about the moments before and after they were born – difficult perhaps, but moments that are filled with joy that makes my heart swell with love and… gratitude.  I remembered how the only words to come out of my mouth after Layla was born were “I have a baby… I have baby…”. For Meaghan’s birth, I remembered how scared I felt when I was told that it was time to start pushing; and then how proud and grateful I was to experience all of labour, without the epidural – and then to have the pleasure of holding my little one to my breast for nearly an hour and a half before they took her to weigh and measure. And I thought about how much they’ve grown in such a short time, how much they make me laugh and smile… and how grateful I am for their very existence.

I thought about my wedding day – the way that Brandon smiled at me as I walked down the aisle towards him. The support we received and the celebration we shared with family and friends in the months and weeks leading up to our big day… and flashes from the last  seven years of marriage. Full of love. And I thought about Brandon, my husband, his strength of character, his contented approach to life, his love for my daughters and me. And I felt… grateful.

I thought about my adventures from the last decade… a student exchange to France, the beginnings of my career, early marriage and motherhood (which made me face a lifetime phobia of needles head on) fundraising and training and every step to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro… And while I would gladly undertake a new project every year – I am happy and grateful for the ones that I have had the opportunity to experience and for the memories that I treasure in my heart.

I thought about the people that have supported me every step of the way. The words of encouragement, the demonstrations of support, the little gestes that may have seemed seem so small or insignificant but that touched me to my core…

…and for a moment I forgot about my “problems”, my stress and discouragement (big and small). Why? Because I was practicing gratitude… and in light of all that I had to be grateful for, the negative, the not particularly ideal and the frustrations, seemed to fade.

Now, there’s really no need to go into why I’ve been feeling so low… I may have reasons to be down, but I also have reasons to celebrate. What matters most today is that I’m making a choice. I will not let the bad feelings take over, I will stop focusing on the negative and looking for the insults…

I will choose gratitude. I will choose happiness. I will choose love.

Because I can. Because I should. Because I must.

A.

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