I am grateful. Being grateful and thankful are similar in meaning and interchangeable expressions. To me, being thankful can be more in the moment or temporary when something good happens to me or for me, like receiving a gift or helping me out. You did something nice for me, I thanked you for it, and the transaction is complete. Being grateful is more of a daily appreciation for my everyday life even if nothing happens except me waking up. Gratitude has staying power and sets the tone as my day unfolds. Gratitude is an anchor and keeps me grounded in the present and allows me to feel good about my life today, rather than reliving yesterday or fretting about tomorrow. Gratitude helps me recognize the big picture, not dwell on the fragments.

While married, I didn’t remember practicing gratitude because I wasn’t in the mood to reflect on what was good, I was too busy being a victim or martyr or half-crazed. I existed on dysfunction and toxicity. My overall focus was on negativity, sorrow, and hopelessness. But when I began self-help towards the end of my marriage, gratitude was a tool used to force me to remember the good things in my life that I should be grateful for, even in the midst of chaos. My occasional gratitude lifted my mood, reduced my stress, and helped me to count my blessings. Today, in my present circumstances, I incorporate gratitude daily, so it has become ingrained in me, habit forming, and characteristic of my outlook. Gratitude is holistic medicine to aid my desire to be whole.

My gratitude lists are part of my morning routine along with prayer and meditation. It motivates and encourages me to keep up with my well-being. Being grateful makes me appreciate all that I have; I may not have everything, but I have all that I need. Gratitude changes the focus from negative to positive. My youngest tended to gripe and mope about what other people had in college. I finally had enough and said: drop the attitude and have gratitude! Then I demanded that he tell me five things he was grateful for, and he reluctantly spit them out. Every time we saw each other or talked on the phone I expected him to tell me five things about gratitude. Eventually, the lessons on gratitude took hold, and the focus was redirected from what he didn’t have to what he did have.

Gratitude is part of my self-care, along with all of my books and folders on techniques I practice to help me live a healthier lifestyle and maintain it. Gratitude helps attract good things, it makes me want to be generous to others and be a better person. I am grateful to God for waking me up, the Cross, four seasons, birds singing, a full moon, my kids & good health, family & friends, fresh cut grass, my journey & hard lessons learned, a good movie & book, music, the beach, sunrise & sunset, my apartment, my job, peace & quiet, stars & clouds, good neighbors, a summer breeze, candles, and the smell of coffee.

The great thing about gratitude is that there is something new and exciting to be grateful for every single day.  I am grateful and appreciate the simple pleasures, whether it’s reading a book, walking on the beach, feeding the birds, laughing with the neighbors, or just sitting at the table sipping coffee alone, in those moments, I find myself asking: what more is there. I am grateful for my life and finally able to enjoy it in real time and recognize everyday how blessed I am.