I’m a lucky guy. For a number of reasons, but I only want to write about one today. I have good close friends. I don’t have a lot of them, but the ones I have I really value.
Some years ago when we got together we did a variation of a talking stick. For those unfamiliar with what that means, basically you sit in a circle, take a "stick" and whoever has the "stick" mostly talks without interruption until they are done. Then they pass it along. Feedback, conversation, questions are usually put aside as the focus is on allowing each person to speak to what is current for them in whatever way they choose.
We've done this for years when we get together and recently we were joined by two of our adult children and one of their fiancés. All of my close friends are probably closer to the end of their lives than the beginning and our children are hopefully closer to the beginning part of theirs.
As we each talked I noticed how the older group mentioned appreciation and gratitude way more than the younger crowd. It occurred to me that when I was younger, gratitude and appreciation, while not unknown for me, were not something I dwelt on. Looking back on that time I can see how much there was to be grateful about, but I didn't really acknowledge it as much as I took it for granted.
I know plenty of people become very aware of gratitude and appreciation at an early age. Often because of tragedy or hurdles that confront them. However you earn it, it seems to me that as the challenges grow, appreciation grows with it. Sometimes resentments, frustrations and weariness grow as well.
I have a friend who some years ago had a debilitating accident that severely compromised his physical abilities and significantly increased the pain in his life. When his turn to speak came he talked about getting up in the morning and how difficult it was to get out of bed. He immediately followed that with how grateful and appreciative he was that he was able to get out of bed and into his day.
It’s almost the more that is taken away from you the more you value what you have.
Some years ago I read that practicing gratitude made people happier with their lives. Makes sense, you focus more on the positive you see more of it.
When I first started to make a point each day to take in what I was appreciating I would say something like, “I really appreciate being able to write this blog.” I would say it, but I felt I was more talking it than walking it. But at least I was talking it. Therapists learn one way to make changes is to talk it first and let that guide you into walking it. Most people know it as fake it till you make it.
Now, I enjoy saying some form of thanks. Be it to myself or others. I value the moment when I stop what I'm doing and just take it in and say thanks.
I could tell when I was listening to my friends talk the older we get the more appreciative we feel for the life we have. I like and enjoy my life more some days than others, but I’m always grateful that I have a life to live and want to live it as best I can. I'm thankful for that.