We've all heard it many times and many different ways during our lives. Count your blessings, give thanks, feel lucky for what you have, think of people who don’t have as much. We understand the words, but seldom do we stop to think what they really mean.
I'm not sure exactly when it occurred to me, but one day, I began to really understand what it means to be truly grateful. Not just for the good things but for everything.
When I started looking at my life in a new way it was very revealing. As much as I thought I had been a grateful person, I realized I had been taking a lot for granted. Not just the big things, but all of the small, seeming insignificant things that make up my life.
I started focusing on very specific things to appreciate, like my morning cup of coffee. I wondered, what did it take for me to enjoy that simple pleasure?
Pouring a glass of clean water, sleeping in a comfortable bed, turning on the lights - the list goes on forever. There is so much to appreciate and be grateful for.
What about when things go wrong?
The big shift occurred for me when I began to see problems as opportunities. Something that would have upset me in the past, like an issue at work or something going wrong with my vehicle, became a challenge for me to find the best in the situation.
This was when I had to be more general and not so specific. I was happy to have a job or a car, I felt fortunate to have the resources and ability to figure it out.
I applied this philosophy to everything I could think of. If it was a good experience, I thought about how much I appreciated having it. When it didn’t feel so good, I thought about how grateful I was for the lesson and what positive aspects of it I could find.
In the beginning it was a little difficult to always find the silver lining but with practice it became easier, and I’ve learned that even when I slip back into my old habits, I can quickly recover by simply remembering all that I have to be grateful for.