|My cover or “theme” photo for this blog and a picture I feel sort of embodies this whole gratitude movement to me. This photo was taken in Canyonlands National Park, Utah last August while I was vacationing with my family. It was one of those moments that I just felt overwhelmed by the vast openness and beauty of the enormous canyons. I remember sitting there and feeling incredibly grateful for the chance to be witnessing such beauty, on such a gorgeous day, with my entire family along to experience it with me. My mom snapped this picture when I wasn’t looking, but I’m so glad she did. I will always remember the immense gratitude I felt in that moment when I see this photo.
Today’s post is a little different. Joel O’Leary from at 5amjoel.com (the awesome guy who sends the brief daily inspirational and motivational emails I’ve talked about in previous posts– I’d highly recommend joining his email list!) asked me if I would like to write a short piece to go out in one of his daily emails!
I was excited by the opportunity to get my new little blog “out there” to some new readers, and also to share a little bit of the backstory about how I got so interested in gratitude practice and the whole positivity movement in general. So, here you go! I wanted to share it first on the blog. Without further adieu, the beginnings of my “gratitude journey”, from a chronic “complainer” to….someone who complains a little bit less 😊:
It was a regular weekday evening, sometime in early winter several years ago. Let’s say mid-December.
I was muddling through the usual after-school chaos with my boys- tired from work, cranky from sitting in traffic after my son’s piano lesson, and still facing the usual “what’s for dinner?” question along with dishes, homework, showers….
My husband walked in the door from work. I gave a brief smile and a “hi”, quickly turning back to rummaging through the fridge for an onion. He stopped to ask how my day was, and I sighed.
“Oh, okay, I guess… You know, I’m just tired and this house is a mess. Traffic was horrible…” I drifted off as he set his hand gently on my shoulder.
“Kae, do you ever realize just how much you complain??”, he asked quietly.
I paused. A wave of clarity suddenly washed over me. My normally very supportive husband was exactly right. ALL I ever did was complain! Sure, I wasbusy and tired, but what exactly were my complaints accomplishing? Did the traffic disappear because I complained about it? Would the dishes magically be done?
That day was a turning point in my life. I dove headfirst into studying the topic of daily gratitude practice.
I read an account of a person living in a cold, snowy climate who was out in the elements. While everyone around her grumbled about the weather, she chose to say, “Thank goodness I have these warm, cozy boots to keep my feet dry!”
I read another story of someone surrounded by sour-faced co-workers all day who instead chose to smile, “It was great to get outside for a walk on my break!”
Wow! This was incredible. I love the term “paradigm shift” and that’s exactly what it was for me.
I started paying attention to this concept in my own life immediately and discovered just how often complaining had become my standard default. I vowed to change this.
When I walked into the gym the next morning and the woman at the desk said, “Yuck, that snow is really coming down out there!”, I replied, “It sure is beautiful!” When I ran into a friend who asked how I’d been, I said, “Really well- we’ve all stayed healthy so far this winter! Thanks!” instead of my standard “Busy…” reply.
Pay attention to those around you today, and yourself. How do you approach the day? As one problem after another? Or can you find a way to “flip” every moment into something good? Trust me, there is always something positive to be found. It takes a lot of practice to change old habits, but it’s worth the effort.
Just for fun, try to catch yourself in fivecomplaints today. Before you say them out loud, spin them into a positive instead and see how you feel. 😊
I woke up and saw that my Mom shared this quote on Facebook this morning. It struck me that the attitude of gratitude is exactly what I am trying to develop into a true “way of life”. I’m not there, yet, but working on it everyday!! I decided that today should be the day I shared my little gratitude journey story. I hope you liked it and that maybe it will help you start to look for the positives around you, too! I’m such a work in progress myself, but I can see the benefits of daily practice seeping into my life. 😊😊
I am grateful for photos! Yesterday I spent some time offloading photos from my iPhone to my external hard drive. Looking back over a year + of family photos makes me realize how grateful I am to be able to capture so many memories. I know there is NO WAY I would remember some small, special moments without them. Being able to look back on an old piano recital from years ago, or silly photos of the kids playing in the leaves in the fall is just priceless. I’m so grateful for how easy it is to take and keep photos these days!
6 thoughts on “My Gratitude Journey”
I've always been intrigued with how many of us don't realize how often we complain. It literally becomes a habit and, like all habits, it tends to be so familiar that it becomes invisible and second nature.Complaining seems to be such a good conversation starter because it's easier to find common ground by complaining and perhaps getting a little sympathy back, right?Guilty as charged. I've been there before. And never you mind that complaining is actually stressful!��I am grateful to your husband for helping you find this moment. The Tipping Point moment where not only have you become consciously positive but you are helping others become happier and energized too.��
Exactly, Alex! It had become invisible to me I think. I did it without even thinking about it. Ever since starting to pay more attention to it, it has made such a difference. Just being AWARE of it is half the battle! I also agree with your comment about complaining being sort of a "conversation starter"! Misery does love company. 🙂 Thanks for the thoughtful comment!!
I enjoyed a beautiful calm sunny morning in the garden, I came inside and the whole house was still asleep, I am enjoying my coffee all by myself in peace and quiet, and I get to read this really great blog post! Thank you for contributing to my amazing morning!I, for one, am so grateful to have such an introspective, thoughtful, articulate sister who has the sensitivity and courage to look at the world in a different way. This is a super post, Kae. So proud of you and all the good work you're doing with this blog. :-)(And maybe complaining too much is hereditary? I am definitely going to take your challenge today and turn that frown upside down!)
Thank you thank you for the kind words. 🙂 The positive feedback means SO much and helps me to keep going!! I really appreciate it. I am also so glad you had a wonderful morning. That sounds so dreamy….early morning sunshine in a beautiful garden. I'm glad you got some quiet coffee time in too! Double whammy! 😉
I have heard of 5am Joe. I used to listen to How to Money and they had him on as a guest! Very cool that you got featured by him in one of his daily emails! Being mindful of how much we complain and trying to shift to gratitude is so important. There are seasons of life where it's ok to be a bit grumbling but that can't be your permanent state. I think it's great that you took your husband's comment to heart and didn't go on the offensive right away. A lot of people would have turned that into a fight but you turned it into a paradigm shift!
I keep trying! You're right- some seasons (or even some days!) are just harder than others, but I do think that slowly shifting our default mode to one of gratitude can be done! It doesn't mean that we will always see everything through rose-colored glasses every minute of every day, but any progress in that regard can make our lives better, I think!