Today is the last day of a journey of thanksgiving: preparing for the holiday season from the inside out and I want to thank you for following me on this journey. These past 10 days have made such a difference in how I view my life and the world around me. There were many days, and I mean many that being thankful was much tougher than complaining and it took a lot of determination to not let that thought process control me. Everyone is always telling me that I’m so upbeat and positive and can’t understand how I can always see the good in others or see the light at the end of the tunnel. This isn’t always true, and that is why I made this commitment to take this challenge. I have been reflecting so much on my life and with the holidays approaching one particular story stands out in my mind, and I want to share it with you:
Last year on Christmas morning, I went around the house turning on all the twinkling lights, lit some candles and put on the Christmas music. I love Christmas and I couldn’t wait for my children to wake up; they may be Santa’s little helpers, but the magic of Christmas is something we all hold dear to our hearts and share with each other, even if it’s only for the benefit of another. I snapped this picture of my peaceful Christmas morning and posted it on facebook along with joyous Christmas wishes for all.
As I scrolled through my news feed at the photos of gifts flowing out from under the trees filling up the living rooms I began to feel bad. How do they do it? My children would be thrilled to see that many presents waiting for them! How can they afford so many gifts? But the more I scrolled, the sadder I became. My children are good kids they deserve so much more than we are able to give them. I wish we could surprise them just once with a Christmas morning like everyone else has. Every Christmas we do our best to make this special time of year magical and memorable, so why was this bothering me so much this year?
When they came down the stairs I greeted them with a very Merry Christmas and a big hug and kiss as I always do. They were both very excited to see the gifts under the tree with a few extra they weren’t expecting…. a few extra I thought? Not compared to everyone else’s! I may have been smiling on the outside but inside I was crushed for them. My thoughts were interrupted by my son’s voice “Mom, we said can we please light the advent candles and do the reading before we open our gifts?” In that very moment my heart and soul pulled at me and I cried (and as I type this I am having trouble seeing the words with the tears that are pouring from my eyes… those feelings were so strong that they are just as powerful today) Time stood still in that moment and I was grateful beyond compare! I tried to compose myself and said “thank you, thank you both, you just gave me the best Christmas present a mom could ever ask for” …my children didn’t care that there weren’t presents upon presents overflowing from under the tree, they knew what the true meaning of Christmas was and that was the first and most important thing on their list that morning; and it’s a memory I keep written on my heart forever.
Do you see how quickly our minds can shift to the negative? It is so easy to feel sorry for ourselves, to want what we don’t have. When we consciously pratice gratitude we become happier. Gratitude is a choice, an attitude, it is a habit we must practice each and every moment of each and every day. When we look at the world with a grateful heart we are able to see all the good there is and find the hidden blessings we have been given. When we focus on the positives we are able to remove the negatives. Bad things are going to happen but we must look for the good in those situations.
“Always remember that you control your thoughts, and thus, your happiness. Your thinking generates your emotions. Your emotions generate your actions. Be grateful and focus on the abundance in your life. Think positive and live positive. Think love and embody love. Love is within you and all around you–invite it into your life.” Creig Crippen
By slowing down and being intentional, I had discovered what was truly important in my life. I want to continue to experience everything for the first time and to have the wisdom to cherish each moment as if it were my last. Changing my perspective helped me to open my heart, mind and soul to thankfulness on a whole new level. Gratitude turned my mundane tasks into blessing, and gave me a new appreciation for myself. I am not going to let the end of this challenge stop me from finding happiness. I want to continue everyday to find blessings in the simple pleasures, joy in the messes and thankfulness in all circumstances and that journey begins with a grateful heart.