December 12, 2011

Finding Gratitude During Busy Times


It’s no secret the time between Thanksgiving and New Year is busy regardless of what you do or do not celebrate. For me, I’ve got corporate and community events, BabyGirl’s birthday, schoolwork, violin rehearsal, violin recital, office potluck as well as cooking, cleaning, baking, decorating and visiting with friends. I’m sure you have a long list of things that fill up your calendar as well.

I often find myself overwhelmed by having to be places I may not really want to be or with people I’d rather not spend my time with. Being a grown up, though, means having to suck it up and do things I don’t want to do. And usually doing it with a pleasant attitude and smile. Not only for me but also to show my daughter that even though we do things we may not want to do, by having a positive attitude we make the best of the experience.

You’ve likely heard about the philosophy that says ‘you get what you give’. It’s something I learned from my mother in my teens. There was no name for it, like ‘the secret’ or ‘practice gratitude’ or anything like that. It was just her understanding of the world – if you’re nice to people, people will be nice to you. Sure, it’s simplified. But, generally, it’s true. I know if someone is rude and snippy with me that I have a difficult time summoning my inner zen and not giving back the attitude they give me. It’s a process, though.

It saddens me that Black Friday, every year, is marred with some type of tragedy. All because some item is on mega sale. I look at the free-for-all type buying frenzies and I opt out of ever being involved. Same with large group events sometimes. In college, I had two psychology professors whom I’ll never forget. Dr. Kenrick and Dr. Neuberg opened my eyes to social psychology. How we engage with others, both individually and as part of a group, is critical to how we view ourselves and what we are willing to do for ourselves and others.

In our lives we have so much to be thankful for, but we often don’t see it. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say I’m part of that group that has trouble finding the gratitude within me some days. But, during these especially busy times it’s important to remember why we’re doing the things we’re doing. Or, in some cases not doing things.

Having gratitude doesn’t mean being thankful only for big things. It’s actually the little things that are often more important. I read a book awhile back about a man who, when he awakes in the morning, feels full of gratitude for having another day. It made me think of how many times I’ve gotten up grumpy and that attitude just continued. What if I was grateful for waking up – and being able to get out of bed on my own. For having a bed? In a warm house? With a wonderful husband and daughter? It’s a snowball! It became easy.

As easy as it is to make excuses and frown, it’s equally as easy to smile and find gratitude for something. It’s harder though, I think, to be in that place of contentment and peace. What I’ve learned though, is that with practicing gratitude it’s more important to do it when you’re not feeling the most thankful or appreciative. It’s a way to reset your mind and reframe the situation.

I think it’s easier, some day, to practice gratitude. It’s the other days I really try to focus and see the joy, wonder, love, and miracles and truly appreciate what I have and how full my life is. Sure, some days suck. And I struggle with walking away from shame and fear and anxiety. As 2011 comes to a close, though, I realize how much I really do have to be grateful for. And how much I have to share, in an effort to continue to pay forward the gratitude.

As you begin to turn the final pages on 2011, how will you find gratitude?


Image: Michelle Meiklejohn /





Mary Hemminger December 12, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I appreciate this reminder, thanks! 🙂

Sara December 12, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Mary, so glad to offer inspiration! Thank you for being a reader and for taking time to comment.

Grady Pruitt December 12, 2011 at 11:08 pm

“Having gratitude doesn’t mean being thankful only for big things. It’s actually the little things that are often more important.”

I find this to be true myself. In fact, when I’m writing down my 5 things I’m grateful for that day (when I remember to do this), it’s often the little things that tend to wind up in this list.

Thanks for the reminder!

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