Rolling over in my bed this morning, I check my clock...3:40 am. Over the side of the bed comes the paw again...tap...tap...tap. Lizzie (our Beagle/Jack Russel mix) has decided that she feels like an early morning breakfast. Meeting my gaze and satisfied that I am awake now, she sits expectantly tail-wagging enthusiastically. I want to be mad at her, but the joyful enthusiasm is so hard to rage at. I roll out of bed and pat her little head as she whines her joy at my upright position.
Clearly, I could go either way on this one. I could be completely ungrateful that I was denied 30 more minutes of sleep by a little monkey who cannot tell time. I could moan and complain about how they never give me enough rest as I have in the past, but that would make for a pretty lousy start to a gratitude challenge.
So today, the very first thing I am grateful for is Lizzie and how her joyful enthusiasm shows me how each day should be greeted with optimism and breakfast served by somebody else.
Oh and just to add an extra bit of side gratitude into the day, I forgot to turn off my alarm clock when I went off to feed the dogs where it rang for a good couple of minutes waking my husband up who has the day off. As he is not doing the gratitude challenge, I suspect that joyful enthusiasm was not how he greeted the day, but at 4 am, I had human company. Another point for gratitude.
My husband told me a story this morning causing me to feel mad and sad for the person involved. It was one of those situations that left me feeling powerless because it did not resolve the way I thought it should... and I hate feeling powerless. After running some errands in this state of mind, I got out of my car...and saw my azalea bush. Not realizing that it was at the point of flowering I was met with a pop of unexpected color. For some inexplicable reason, this took me back to a state of peace again, and I was able to view the situation through a more reasonable lens. Far from powerless, I was able to see that while the situation did not resolve the way I (or they) would have wanted it to, they handled the situation respecting themselves. That's power. I am so grateful for the natural world which surprises me into a better frame of mind. Calm perspective from an azalea bush.
A Rainy Afternoon
Listening to a podcast, I let the dogs out the back door while I was prepping dinner. From the way they high-tailed it back, I realized it was raining. I love rain. The smell of freshness, the permission to stay indoors, and the relaxing sounds put me in a happy place. I turned off the podcast and opened the back door savoring the sounds. Later when I let my husband know it was dinner, I found him bundled up with the door closed saying how cold he was. I did not immediately fill him in on my open backdoor. Gratitude and wisdom rolled up as one.
What I Am Learning
Gratitude does not allow you to reside in an emotional void. When chosen, it ushers you from the place of melancholy, anger, or apathy and seats you squarely in happy land. Today, it gave me my power back, allowed me to be fully present, and saved a dog's life. Not shabby at all for day one.
It's not happiness that makes us grateful. It's gratefulness that makes us happy.
- Brother David Steindl-Rast