While I am not usually one to skip a meal (for any reason, believe me) the other day, due to unexpected circumstances and overall craziness I ended up not eating dinner. In fact, I hadn't eaten since around noon and at about 4:00 in the morning the next day my stomach woke me up with some loud grumbles. I was exhausted so I said to it, "Quiet! I'm ignoring you and going back to sleep!"
Well, my stomach had other ideas, and it decided to get louder and grumblier until after about an hour I said, "All right, FINE! I'll get something to eat!" I grouchily got up, went as quietly as I could downstairs and opened the refrigerator door, sighing loudly in my ire.
As I stood there, a person came to mind. She's a friend from long ago, whom I rarely ever see, but I suddenly remembered her recent posts about her current gratitude journal. She is striving to write down 1,000 items she's thankful for per month, which is approximately 33 per day. She regularly works with orphan children in Rwanda and has an amazing perspective on gratitude after living among these beautiful kids who not only have no living relatives, but also no things that we tend to take for granted like forks, shoes, showers, bed linens, and in some cases, uses of arms or legs.
I'm so glad that she popped into my head because as I was standing there barefoot on my kitchen floor, in front of my full refrigerator, I immediately stopped grumbling. I forgot how tired I was, I forgot about my stomach, I forgot about all of the things I had to do within the next few hours and I was instantly filled with gratitude for everything around me. I thought about those kids in Africa, I thought about the people in our own country who live in poverty, and I just started saying thank you:
Thank you that we have a refrigerator full of food for when I, or someone in my family is hungry.
Thank you that we have heat in our home on cold days, so much that I'm able to go barefoot.
Thank you that we have access to nutritious things like fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, clean water, and milk.
Thank you that we have easy access to doctors and medicines to help us heal when we're not well.
Thank you that we have an oven to cook in, utensils to eat with, chairs to sit in, clean beds to sleep in, rooms for our children, clean warm clothes to wear, cars to drive.... it went on and on and on for quite a while.
When I finished with the material things, I moved on to things like:
Thank you that we have strength to walk and live our daily lives.
Thank you that we have healthy lungs to breathe and that all of our limbs work.
Thank that we have brains and bones and organs that work normally.
Thank you that we each have our own unique talents and skills that we bring to the world.
Thank you that we are able to use those skills to help make the world a better place.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you....
By the time I finished with my thank yous I wasn't hungry anymore, I wasn't tired anymore, and I certainly wasn't grumpy anymore. Gratitude can be such a powerful thing and yet so often I, and we all, take things like our health, our food, and the things that make our lives easier and more beautiful for granted. While sometimes it's hard to imagine not having simple things like forks or towels or socks, so many people don't have them, and that's what I kept thinking about in those wee hours of the morning.
Being grateful - for anything and everything - makes us each better people, and as the saying goes, If you are happy with what you have, you'll find you have plenty to be happy about.
It's not always easy to turn your grumbles into gratitude, but I'm certainly going to try. I'll start by saying thank you to YOU, for taking your time to read this. Believe me when I say I am very grateful.