When I was younger, we were taught from a fairly young age, that if we receive a gift, the first thing we do is sit down and write a note in thanks. Whether we like the gift or not. Whether it was something we wanted or something we will never use...we wrote a note giving appraciation and thanks. It wasn't the most popular parenting decision from the eyes of a six year old on Christmas morning, but it was a good lesson in appreciating what came your way and fostering a sense of gratitude that I carry with me even today. Receiving a gift feels good and being acknowledged and thanked feels good...it is like this continuous cycle of feel good feelings and who doesn't like that? Now before we go down the road of "really? you still write hand written thank you notes and have your kids do it too" conversation, I will give you a little hint...that is not really what this blog is about.
This is about the gift of wisdom and how I am grateful for this everyday.
About ten years ago, when I was going through my divorce, life was...eh...challenging. I was down and out, confused and was looking at the prospect of raising my young children on my own in a home that was heated only by wood, had no running water and ran on a very small solar panel (think one light and a laptop small). I went from city girl who shopped every week for fun to single mom who had to learn to chop wood for survival. Yep..things were tough that first year. But a wise friend reminded me about the concept of thank you notes, that changed my perspective from that day forward. She said it is easy to be grateful for the good things...to give thanks when we receive something we want. But sometimes gifts are hidden in the darkest of moments...sometimes we may think we have no use for a gift, but much later, we see that it was the most important gift ever. So be grateful for all that comes in your life and write your thank you notes often, even if they are only written in your head.
I took her advice that year...and every year after. And this is what I learned...
Life is about how we choose to look at things. It is about what we choose to focus on. And the more we focus on the good, the more good things will come our way.
To back up just a bit, I have never really believed that things happen to us. That we have no control over how our life actually plays out. I believe that if you jump in with both feet, amazing things can be created. But a lot of it depends on how much gratitude we feel for what is going on around us vs. how much funk we feel is being dumped upon us. Whether we spend our day thinking that life is basically pretty darn good or we constantly find our thoughts gravitating towards how much we hate our job. Whether we wake up excited to take on our day or wish we could hide under the blankets until happy hour. Whether your ex husband is rotten or basically a good man doing his best. You get the idea...It is all about the energy we are creating within and what type of energy we are attracting that paves the way for how our life plays out. But to consciously...even daily...think about the incredibleness in our lives. To know we have the power to carve out the life we want...I mean really want...now that is a game changer.
So back to the thank you notes. We have had a tradition in our family that is one of my favorites. In the corner of living room, we have a brightly decorated jar that holds scraps of paper that the kids and I write on. It is called the gratitude jar and...well...all year we write down what we are grateful for and at the end of the year, we sit down and read through all of our mini thank you notes. For the kids, it directs their attention to what is quite amazing in our life and for me, it is that feel good practice I mentioned above...the continuous cycle of feeling good...which only more feel good feelings will come from. It brings our focus to all that is wonderful and reminds us, when we hit a bump or two, that beauty is really all around us....That just choosing to focus our attention on gratitude can quickly pave the way to the land of awesomeness faster than the speed of light...And who couldn't use more of that?
So get going...write those thank you notes before you go to bed. Say them aloud while brushing your teeth. Sing them in your head while driving to work. Share them with your man. Share them with your woman, your kids, your dog. Write them down and revisit them often. Believe in them. Heck...believe in you. Because we all could use a little more wonderfulness in our daily lives...and that's the beauty of thank you notes.