It’s a funny thing about life; once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things you lack – Germany Kent.
Pearls, the beautiful jewelry adorned by women on necks, wrists, and ears, are formed through a unique process. When an irritant like sand works its way into a species of oysters or clam, they secrete a fluid to coat the irritant. As layer after layer of coating blankets the irritant, a luminant pearl forms. The irritant, intended to cause pain to the oyster, becomes a tool to produce a valuable commodity.
Life has its share of irritants, circumstances that disrupt our lives and cause discomfort. Often, an irritant happens unexpectedly, making it more bothersome. A few months ago, a garbage truck drove past me. Instantaneously, the choking smell from all the garbage collected disrupted my running, making it hard to breathe. My pace slowed to a jog, and I almost quit running altogether, except that our home was in the opposite direction. It took most of my energy to fight the lingering smell and continue running. Thankfully, the smell dissipated, and I built my pace back. I expended energy to combat the urge to quit caused by the irritant of the smell of garbage. The irritant was unexpected, but the energy dispensation was intentional.
Sticking With Gratitude
Gratitude has a similar process. When an irritant occurs, gratitude does not come naturally for most of us. We ask, Why me? Why this, and Why now? Our enthusiasm for life wanes. Instead of sticking with gratitude, we spin our wheels in the mud of complaints. Since life is never free of irritants, sticking with gratitude is crucial. Recently, my sister shared with our family the following list of things to be grateful for when the urge to complain grows. The list is attributed to author and blogger Chelsea Lee Smith:
I am grateful for…
Early Wake Ups – Children to love
House to Clean – A place to live
Laundry – Clothes to wear
Dirty Dishes – Food to eat
Crumbs under the table – Family meals
Shopping to do – Money to use
Toilets to Clean – Indoor plumbing
Lots of noise – Kids are having fun
Endless questions – Kids learning
Getting into bed sore and tired – I am still alive.
I added this final one after I recalled the story of the garbage truck:
The smell from the garbage truck while running – Thankful for trash pick up
Privilege versus Entitlement
How different would your life be if you adopted a similar outlook every day? Our approach to life changes when we choose to be more appreciative and less entitled. Best-selling author Brene Brown says it best; “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude. Complainers and grumblers, more often than not, view life through the eyes of entitlement. Self-preoccupation is their default. This lens makes it difficult to release gratitude when life’s irritants strike. Contrarily, appreciators, those who see life as a privilege, stick with gratitude. They are gratitude locators, able to find reasons to be grateful because they take nothing for granted. They view each day as a gift. To them, gratitude is both a challenge and a choice.
Gratitude expands and energizes the soul. By harnessing the power of gratitude, you focus more on what you have than what you lack. Spending time on what you lack cultivates a scarcity mindset. It narrows your thinking and pulls your life to instant gratification instead of contentment. Through gratitude, you may discover the little things you have are more valuable than you thought. As author Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back, and realize they were the big things. This realization energizes your soul where discouragement attempts to cast a dark shadow. The choice to be grateful is beneficial to every facet of your life.
Final Thought: When confronted with irritants, choosing to release gratitude and coat the irritant with layer after layer of reasons to be thankful keeps away the intention of the irritant to frustrate and demoralize you. Becoming intentional about sticking with gratitude creates value out of irksome circumstances. Practice gratitude daily. Approach each day with a positive attitude and view life as a privilege. Pledge always to be grateful. Will you remain glued to gratitude regardless of life’s irritants? The pearl of a higher quality of life awaits the person who chooses to stick with and release gratitude. How will you release gratitude today?
Keep on Keeping on!