I woke up, breathing and full of life, at 6:55 AM this morning. That’s a thing to be thankful for, I think to myself. But, that’s not the whole story; it’s not the complete picture you need to see. Let me start over. I woke up this morning in a warm bed, beside my wife who loves me. For that, I am grateful. I woke up in a bed, under a roof, in a pretty nice little house, in a pretty nice little neighborhood. I am grateful, but it gets better still. I woke up in a bed, scrunched in between some amazing little pups that love me beyond words, and were happy to remind me with a million little kisses. I woke up and went to the bathroom and the light switches responded, as they should each time by turning the lights on. Yep, the power is still on and I am grateful. I did my business and flushed... running water, check. I moved through my house and marveled at the pictures on the wall of my family and friends... more love to be grateful for. I turned off our alarm system (you guessed it, the cable and internet are still on too) and opened the door to let my pups out to do their business. What an awesome sight was waiting for me on the other side of that door; the sun was just coming up and bathing the entire yard in a kind of half-light. Even still, I could make out a hundred different shades of greens, yellows, and reds. The world outside was alive and happy to show off for me. For a moment, I felt like it was just for me. In a way I guess it was, and I am grateful. As I watched this masterpiece unfold, I was greeted by the squirrels in the trees and the birds in the sky, and I am grateful.
I could go on and on. I could tell you how I got ready for the job I have that pays me more than the average income in my state. I could explain how it felt to get into my Jeep, and how it started right up and delivered me safely to my destination despite having some years and miles on it. I had some breakfast and an unsettlingly large amount of coffee. I was greeted by co-workers and friends. For all these things and many more... I am grateful.
There are things weighing me down today. Problems for which there are no ready solutions. That’s the truth and it’s something I am struggling with myself right now. That’s something most of us can say today and all of us can say we’ve been there at one time or the other. Unlike those things I am grateful for, I will not list them... neither on this page or in my mind. I know what they are and where to find them. But, listing each one gives them power over me. It enables them to hold me down the same way that listing the things am I grateful for lifts me up. No, I will not give them that power today; instead I choose to feel empowered by all the things the universe has given me that I am grateful for.
You see, to me at least, happiness is a choice we make daily, hourly, by the minute, literally with each thought. Did you know you cannot think of two things at the same time? Try it; I’ll wait. You can’t do it unless your brain finds a way to link the two together. For example, if you try to think about an elephant and a giraffe at the same time, you can’t do it unless you move them both into the picture you create in your mind, perhaps standing side by side. But then, you aren’t thinking about a giraffe and an elephant separately, you’re thinking about a giraffe and an elephant together. One thought. Opposite things that can’t be reconciled and grouped together by your brain simply cannot exist in your thoughts simultaneously. Love and hate for example. You can think, “I love my dog.” Or you can think, “I hate my neighbor." But, there is no way your mind can process the same thoughts at the exact some time. Your mind does not overlap thoughts; it’s just not how we are programmed.
My point is simple. You can focus on the things weighing you down, the negative thoughts, or you can focus on the positive things you are grateful for. You can’t do both. Unfortunately, choosing to focus on the good versus the bad can be tough. But hey, I said it was simple, not easy. Just know that the outcome of choosing one over the other can make a dramatic difference in your life and your mental state.
Life is a gift and I choose gratitude.
What do you choose?