Gratitude is in short supply
Gratitude is essential, now more so than ever. You may have read my piece on meditation, but now I want to tell you about another aspect of my daily routine.
Again this is going to be a bit of a hippy dippy article. The main thrust is that you should practice gratitude daily. Gratitude is a way of reminding yourself how good life is.
Flashback to a lack of gratitude
As a kid, I was ungrateful.
I don’t know if I was a spoilt child, but I was a huffy one. I probably shouldn’t tell you about how much of an ungrateful kid I was but here goes.
Going back to the mid-nineties when I was still in primary school.
I had just got an A grade in my 11+ exam. I didn’t care about that. All I cared about was getting the Die Hard Trilogy game for my Sega Saturn. Games were delayed continuously on the Sega Saturn because it was a hard system to programme.
This was also in the dark ages before the readily available internet. So if I wanted to find out if something was out or not I had to go into Belfast city centre, with my parents and find out in the shop.
How primitive, I hear you think.
Anyway, they didn’t have the game, and I went into a full-blown huff for the rest of the day. My dad, frustrated with me said: “You couldn’t tell that you passed your exam”.
I felt wick after he said that to me but it helped put everything back into perspective. Looking back, I’m grateful he helped me realise how out of order I acted.
I was an ungrateful kid.
Further examples of my lack of gratitude
The example above is a memory that sticks with me most clearly. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure that there have been many other times where I’ve been an ungrateful little shit.
I want to give you a few more examples to show you how far I’ve come. Some of these are embarrassing, and I haven’t told anyone before, but I have to get these stories out of me.
Back in the nineties
Going back even further, to the early nineties. I can’t remember what age I was, but we were still in Beechill Park, the first family house. I was younger than seven.
So our parents never made that much money, they were civil servants. We were never poor or anything, but we were never rolling in money either.
Not that Claire or I ever noticed if there ever was any financial difficulty. Christmas’ and birthdays, Claire and I always got way more than we deserved. Well, maybe Claire got the right amount.
Here’s an idea of how much we would get, this isn’t my memory, dad told me this.
One year I was found shoving all my toys into wardrobes and cupboards. This was so that Santa wouldn’t know how much stuff I had and would get more presents. You know, because Santa’s an idiot.
I’m taking a long way to say that my parents were very good to my sister and me.
One Christmas I got a Batman Helicopter, but my Batman figure didn’t fit into it properly. I remember going to my mother and telling her it was “The worst Christmas ever”.
Again, how ungrateful was I?
More recent examples
I’d like to think that I’ve become more grateful over the years, but I still have my moments. I have noticed that my ungratefulness tends to be food related.
I was on holiday in Brussels, I asked for onion rings. The waitperson brought me green beans and wouldn’t change, holiday ruined.
There was a time when Boojum only had the one location, and it had limited seating. I went for lunch there with my girlfriend at the time, Grace. Got our Burritos, couldn’t get seated, sat in the park. I hate eating in the open air; we had to end our lunch date. I said to her “I’m going to go into a massive strop, we have to end it here for today”. I left her home.
Again how ungrateful.
When trying to get myself out of a rut, I discovered the act of practising gratitude.
I bought a notebook and made it my gratitude journal.
Practising gratitude is simple. You date the page, and you write down ten things that you are grateful for, you do this every day. It takes five-ten minutes.
Here’s an example:
- I am grateful to be alive
- I am grateful for my health
- I am grateful for my height
- I am grateful to be able to write
- I am grateful for all my family
- I am grateful for my friends
- I am grateful to have a job
- I am grateful to have a car
- I am grateful that I am creative
- I am grateful for all my experiences, good and bad
It may look like nonsense but consider giving it a go.
When you start practising gratitude you’ll become more thankful.
You’ll realise how great it is to be alive, to be living in such times and to have people around you who love you.
You and I have it so good
I don’t want to make too many assumptions about you, but if you are reading this, you have it good.
You have access to the internet, you are literate, and you have the time to read this post.
I’m not saying things are perfect for you; nothing is ever perfect. What I am saying is that you have so much good going on in your life. Can you appreciate all that you have?
If you can, that’s great, and I’m happy for you.
If you get into the habit of practising gratitude, it’s easier to turn that light at the end of the tunnel into a spotlight.
I’m not a big fan of going to the gym or doing exercise classes, but I want to live for as long as possible. I also want to have as much of my mind intact, so I have to keep fit.
When I feel like giving up, when that internal voice says, “I hate this, go home, give up”. I talk back to that voice out loud. “Kieran you are so lucky to be able to take time out of your day and devote it to improving your help. There are fat people who have lost limbs to diabetes that don’t have that opportunity.”
That shuts me up.
Quiet your negative voice, practice gratitude.