It is Tisha B’Av, the 9th Av and observant Jews are going meatless for the build up to this terrible day in Jewish history, see my previous blog post “going meatless”.
For today’s blog I decided to do a different blog post. Not on anything to do with saving money, getting organised or even cooking.
Today I am looking at gratitude.
For all of us, life offers challenges. Some challenges are harder than others and some are positive challenges.
For some people just getting out of bed in the morning is their challenge, for some it is meeting a deadline, whatever the challenges I believe. each of us has the strength to face them.
Every morning observant Jews wake up, and even before getting out of bed, thank G-d for actually waking up! Each and every one of us can do this as we lie in our beds thinking about all the tasks we have to complete and the challenges we have to face.
I have worked as a nurse in some form for the past 26 years, I reminded over and over again that miracles happen all the time, we just need to pay attention.
I am not writing a religious post, I am writing about positivity, about being grateful every single day no matter how difficult.
A few years ago I watched an Oprah show about gratitude journals, and while I have never kept one, the idea behind it is brilliant.
One of the concepts was writing 5 things you are grateful for in a journal everyday.
Don’t know what to write? How about these three things to start with?
- I woke up
- I can open my eyes/ I can see
- I can take a breath
As I said the idea is great, but what if I don’t want to write everyday or write at all?
I don’t think you should have to write in a gratitude journal everyday to remind us to be grateful, I also think that sometimes your journal could make you focus on documenting the small things and forgetting the big things. For others writing it down helps them to focus their gratitude, especially in tough times. Writing about being grateful that someone helped you with something is great, here’s another suggestion. Just tell the person, say ‘Thank you for your help, I am grateful’.
Gratitude shouldn’t just be about writing it down, it should also be about showing your gratitude, in your behaviour and your actions.
An off the wall thought, how is taking care of yourself showing gratitude? If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you care for others? You need to be well enough to look after your family.
On an aeroplane during the safety speech, they say if the oxygen masks come down, put yours on first before helping others.
The reason is logical, if you lose consciousness due to lack of oxygen, how helpful will you be?
First responders are taught “safety first”, think about what would happen at a scene or emergency if the first responder is oblivious to danger and gets injured, how much help will they be then?
The ‘pay it forward’ concept is another way of showing your gratitude. Someone helped you, now show it by paying it forward and helping someone else.
The amount of people posting on media sites, showing their gratitude by doing good deeds and videoing it then posting to social media sites, smacks a little of self gratification and ego stroking. It’s almost saying ‘Look at me I did something good today’. Like a child wanting their parents praise.
I am not saying we shouldn’t post our gratitude on social media, and I am not saying stop doing those good deeds, I am grateful there are people out there who do good deeds, even on camera. I am saying that sometimes people over do it.
Social media experiments have shown that those who are the most willing to help are often those with the least resources. In one video, someone walked around a park asking people eating for a bit of food, he was turned down by everyone. His accomplice then gave a meal to a homeless man, and this ‘beggar’ approached the homeless man and asks for food. The homeless promptly shared his meal. What makes him respond differently than those who had and wouldn’t share? The answer is simple, Gratitude. He was grateful for that one meal and showed his gratitude by sharing with another person who was apparently in need. The people who didn’t give up their food aren’t bad people nor are they necessarily ungrateful, we don’t know what they do in private, maybe they give millions to homeless shelters. Be grateful to the ones who gave but not judgemental of the ones who appear not to have given.
The next time that annoying car guard at the mall wants to unpack your groceries, say ‘thank you’, even when you feel pressurised into handing over that R1, R2 or R5 at least you have it to give, or even say ‘No, thank you’, you are allowed. The next time you walk across the wet floor because the lady/man mopping has mopped right in the path of the shop you want to go into, apologise or say thank you, imagine what the mall would look like if she/ he wasn’t there. The cashier and packer at the shop who have barely interrupted their conversation to ring up and pack your groceries, say thank you (although I have to admit to sometimes having said things like “sorry to have interrupted your conversation with my shopping, enjoy the rest of your day” , at least I didn’t have to pack my own parcels.
Reflect on how to show your gratitude, smile more, say thank you more, do small things for people, look after yourself!
Remember saying thank you even when saying no, doesn’t cost a cent.