My blog usually contains a lot of my own observations, writing on my experiences and I’ve found through all the interviews I’ve been conducting that my readers really enjoy the perspective of others as well. So I thought, ‘why not ask a few friends for their perspective on what gratitude means?’ Here is a piece of beautiful writing from dear friend of mine, Vicki, reflecting about her interpretation of gratitude. We share a lot of talk during the week, almost daily, from delicate personal conversations to trivial dribble about nothing. I find Vicki remarkably insightful on life, and we had been discussing the essence of gratitude a lot lately, so it felt right for her gift of insight to be spread wider than the Bondi coffee shops. I sincerely hope you enjoy and I am ever thankful to her for her contribution. Leigh x
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My thoughts on gratitude…
Gratitude always seems to be in abundance when things are going well. Don’t you think? It’s easier to appreciate the good things in life, when you are in a rewarding job, fulfilling relationship, enjoying good health and surrounded by people who value and care about you. So, it got me to thinking – when the good times roll and we’re feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, is this gratitude? Or is it gratitude misplaced, masquerading as smugness in disguise?
For me, gratitude is usually always a moment of deliberate and conscious contemplation where you acknowledge and give thanks to the best of times, relative to the worst of times. It’s a fusing together of the happy with the sad and inviting in the most understated of all emotions in, that elusive thing called humility.
Gratitude should humble and at times polarise the smuggest amongst us. It’s a time where you open the door to humility and shut entitlement and arrogance out. It’s never a gloat-fest and luck has little part to play in our newfound joy. Gratitude is the perfect opportunity to connect with yourself and others. To take stock of now, by reflecting on how you got here. It’s not a time to wallow in nostalgia, or throw a pity party. Instead it’s a time to practice the fantastic and simplest of all things – recognising your own person growth. A time to give thanks to the people you liked and learned the most from; and disliked and still learned the most from. To pay homage to your courage, your weakness and to accept and forgive the sometimes hurtful and upsetting experiences and decisions you made, whether consciously or unconsciously, that got you to where and who you are today. That’s not luck, that’s gratitude.
My gratitude story is autobiographical and it took place in my local beachside coffee shop. I was taking refuge on a wintery Sunday morning snuggling up with my now husband, who was then my new hot boyfriend. It was a good time, I was in what felt like a blossoming new relationship. Different to all the others. Better. Much, much, better. So there I was in my local coffee shop, drunk with gratefulness for his affection, companionship, and the happiness and ease I felt, devoid of past anxiety or compromise. In my gratitude I reflected on all the weekends I drank coffee alone in coffee shops. A time where I was independent and happy in life but away from friends sad because I was ready for love and companionship, and tired of going it alone. Right in my moment of gratitude, those feelings of loneliness I had felt so many times before came back in full force and I was struck by that lump in throat feeling, struggling to hold back the tears. The disappointment of failed relationships, impatience and despair of meeting the elusive one, all came flooding back. I was grateful for that reminder, uncomfortable as it was. It was like a familiar aroma from your childhood or song that transports you back to a different time and place. I was back there, reuniting with the old me.
It was the bringing together the worst and best times. I embraced the old me with compassion, love and hope. I gave thanks to the loneliness, forgiving the impatience and tiredness. My eyes welled up as I remembered how much I longed for a coffee shop moment just like this and the tears I fought back were now happy grateful tears, comforting tears, a deep convalescence and joy. It was own private moment of gratitude. You see, the great paradox is that in that moment and like so many others, true gratitude comes from reflecting on the journey. Because only by embracing sadness, experiencing a loss, an unfulfilling job, unhappy relationship, distant or estranged friends or family and confronting our fears and loneliest of moments, can true gratitude and happiness exist. That, for me is the definition of gratitude.