Yes, there are thousands of articles written about gratitude, but because it prevented me from committing suicide, I will share my own.
As a young girl, my father told me that the fastest way to know you’ve disconnected from God is when you stop being thankful.
I was born into this life knowing God, we have a special connection. Something that can’t be explained or quantified. I’ll never be able to break it down through words because they simply aren’t enough. Words would need to evolve into mechanics that include sight, sound, and feeling to encompass what it is to know God from such a young age.
So when my father shared this truth with me, I held on tightly and never forgot it.
Throughout my life, I would catch myself in the midst of anger, heartache, or depression and become aware of how long it had been since I was thankful, truly thankful. Like the kind of thankful where you feel your heart open wide, expand, and tears appear in your eyes.
But finding that kind of thankfulness on a daily basis can be tough. We get caught up in life — the stresses of work, relationships, and now the added punches of politics/Covid weigh heavily on all of us.
In 2018, after closing down a retail business that I put my heart and soul into for two years, my ability to find thankfulness was lost. It wasn’t the “failure” that shook my soul but the switch from living out my purpose to returning to work just to pay the bills. Soul sucking, to say the least. Even now, I remember that empty feeling. It felt neverending.
And somewhere along that dark road, I nearly gave up my life in heartache.
I’m a spiritual person. God and I are tight. I journal. I pray. I exercise. I eat pretty damn good. And I had even quit drinking alcohol during that time to ensure I wasn’t sidestepping the enormous waves of emotion.
But it was gratitude that saved my life. That brought me back.
It was the simple, daily practice of writing things down that I was thankful for and why. And it was only three things — no massive lists. There’s something special that happens when we connect our minds and heart with pen and paper.
I didn’t come out of the dark overnight, it took months. But even in those early days and weeks, I was able to regain some semblance of my previous, joyful self. I was able to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I was able to enjoy the arms of my partner. I was able to find appreciation for the roof over our head.
And one day, the smoke cleared and I could see all over again.
We have to be intentional about our gratitude. It doesn’t just come to us. We have to purposefully practice it. We have to set aside time each day to ensure it gets recorded. Because it keeps what is most important in front of us.
This practice had waned in the later months of 2019, but when the dark abyss of 2020’s lockdown began to take over, I recommitted myself to thankfulness every day and it pulled me back together. But I had to remain loyal because I saw how missing even one day had me spouting off complaints versus blessings. And because our words create our life, I couldn’t let it slide.
We have so much to be thankful for, especially here in the West. Some mornings, I remember reading about how those during WWII used the same coffee grinds for weeks and I give thanks for my fresh brew. Other mornings, I give thanks for the ability to work from home when so many put their life on the line every day. And others, I name something grand that has been accomplished or given. All are equal.
We must not let what we’ve been given hide from view. We must fight to keep it front and center. Fight to keep a fresh perspective. Fight to remain appreciative and heart-centered.
But more than anything, we must give thanks for the simple gift of waking up.
Because life is truly our greatest blessings.