“Thank you.” Two words. Simple, powerful. We learn to say this when we’re toddlers and it’s always the same.
Someone gives us something — a cookie, a sweet, a toy, whatever — and what do our parents encourage us to do?
“What do you say?” in a sing-songy lilt with the “say” floating downward from the bent forward, in our face position, gently but firmly insistent.
And we look up from our knee high vantage point and in our child’s voice say, “Thank you,” for the cookie, sweet, toy, whatever whoever gave us — probably in an effort to stop us from crying.
But what is “Thank you?” Really?
Per the dictionary, “thank you” is, “A polite expression used when acknowledging a gift, service, or compliment, or accepting or refusing an offer.”
Polite? Put that way, true gratitude and a “thank you” feel rather different. A “thank you” seems like a formality. Gratitude and being grateful feel like a way of life.
Gratitude in the dictionary is “the QUALITY of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to RETURN kindness.”
It comes from such a genuine, real place, it’s effortless and is the hardest thing to discover and remain in when the shit hits the fan. And a lot of that has been happening all over the world, hasn’t it? Reminding ourselves of what we have to be grateful for when we are faced with natural disasters, acts of violence, and so much more, can be difficult.
We at Sleep Club get it and in honor of World Gratitude Day, we’re taking the time to remind you how to live in gratitude as a way to embrace change, adversity and difficulty in all our lives.
Not so easy when you’re stuck in something so deep, so thick, you can’t imagine how you’ll get out of it. We tend to hold our breath when we’re stressed, tense or faced with danger. It’s as if we’re waiting to find out the outcome of our own lives when things go awry. When we relax our breath, truly let it flow in and out, naturally, gently, without effort, it infuses our whole body and creates a sense of calm. It also legit cleanses you of toxic stress hormones and really ups your immunity. Physical well-being comes, isn’t that amazing? And just for the record, that’s really what meditation is at its core — focusing your breath, clearing your mind of everything else but getting in tune with you. Giving back to yourself in those moments and getting out of your “monkey mind” keeps you present and unfettered by those things weighing on you.
And that is something to be grateful for.
Cry it out
Okay, listen to me for a minute, everyone — dudes included. This isn’t about weeping openly for days and hours on end. Nope. When things are hard, a good cry can actually activate your body to a better place. It releases you and allows you to open your eyes to what you have around you worth appreciating. Too many times we go into denial about what’s going south in our lives. That “positive outlook no matter what” thing can actually be detrimental. Sometimes things really are bad and you won’t be able to find what is truly good in your life until you get through to the other side. We’re talking true gratitude, not some sort of veneer you layer over to fool yourself and your loved ones. And if you can’t find something in your life to be thankful for, perhaps you can start on something a bit more bite-sized and accessible.
Celebrate the little things
“I made it into work on time. I’m grateful.” “My brakes are still good on my car. I’m grateful.” “I got out of bed today even though I would rather sleep in all day. I’m grateful.” I talk to myself constantly to get myself to the place where gratitude is a natural state and a smile on my face is something that feels real, not forced.
NOT taking little things for granted is key. At least for me. Embracing those small moments of perfect joy that we often overlook — and we consider mundane, but are actually immensely powerful — is something I walk myself through whenever I need to be reminded of the wonder and magic life holds as opposed to the grief and pain. Sorry to get so deep on you, but life gets like that sometimes, doesn’t it? And it doesn’t matter how wonderful life is on Monday, Thursday can be a real shit show and we forget the joy we felt just days before.
Humans have a natural tendency toward the negative rather than embrace the positive. And regardless of how you feel about that phrase, “Attitude of Gratitude,” there’s something to that. If you can ground yourself in thankfulness, gratefulness, an openness to the beauty and wonder of life, the magic of the world around us, then you can enjoy rather than dread the day, the moment, your life in general.
And, so, truly, create your own mantras of small gratefulness to keep in your arsenal and honestly, absolutely celebrate them even to the point that instead of a pity party you give yourself a “small things I accomplished today” party. Sure, it’s cheesy and, ya know what? Cheesy’s awesome… and delicious.
Allowing gratitude into your life
“I feel bad feeling good while other people aren’t doing well.”
This is a running theme for many people I know. So many around us are being hit hard by what’s going down and if there is something that makes us feel good, makes us thankful, we can’t appreciate it because we experience “survivor’s remorse.” You know, that unbearable grief for “surviving” what has brought others down.
But consider this —
No one, literally, NO ONE has escaped the world’s current trajectory untouched. Whether incredibly life-changing or we consider it merely stressful in comparison, we’ve all been hit with something that impacts our lives. Everything is relative, isn’t it?
Feeling grateful is a gift and actively giving into it fulfills us, shows immense self-care and enhances our well-being. It also prompts us to give back to others, which in turn allows them to experience gratitude. And that is a beautiful way to embrace your thankfulness when you are suffering that survivor’s remorse. “I’m so thankful for this beautiful day. I think I’ll pass it on.” Hmm…
Turning that “I’m so thankful, but I feel so bad about it” into an “I’m so thankful, so I’m going to pay it forward” event creates that sense of gratitude in others. And then it builds and is passed along until it takes on a life of its own and actually makes a difference in many someones’ lives.
Returning the favor by thanks giving
Imagine that. Flipping the script to spread that good you feel into other people's lives. And that is how we can change gratitude to mean even more than we thought it could. Every way you can show and share it creates an opportunity to truly feel the meaning of World Gratitude Day.
There is so much good in the world. The smiling eyes above a mask. Moonlight dancing on the water. Crisp, cool air after a long hot summer. Moms, dads, kids, and every person who delivers the food that others cooked to our house, everyone who checks us out at any store, and all of the first responders, drivers who don’t cut us off, customer service reps who are patient enough to talk us down off any number of ledges. The sheer amount of gratitude moments open to us are infinite. Sometimes, it’s hard to see them, but they are all around us. And as we indulge in the gratitude of that one moment, another reveals itself, and another and another until?
Not only are we giving thanks; we are thanks giving.
“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”
This World Gratitude day, instead of saying “Thank you,” try being grateful. Truly grateful. And embrace gratitude for the little and big things, for the wonder and the odd. There is so much for us to be grateful for in life.
Life. Wow. Look at that. We’re here. And sometimes, being here is hard, but we are here. And we have those around us who are glad for our presence and we are happy for theirs. And that’s worth so very much.
I learned something long ago for which I have always been and always will be grateful that I’d like to share with you before you go:
Gratitude is not just about what you get. It’s also what you give. As a rather wonderful band once sang, “And in the end, the love you take is worth the love you make.” Be grateful for that.
Happy World Gratitude Day to you all. We are grateful for you and send you a huge dose of gratitude to share, wear, and declare.