Uncertainty is somehow contagious. Its apparent agenda something like dominating our thinking and locking us into its story of doom and gloom. Fear also decreases our ability to see anything that isn't on its agenda, which means the warm meal you ate last night, the connections with your family and friends, the job, or the skills that you have, the sunshine outside, the beautiful autumn leaves get side-lined in our focus as we become alert for danger.
However, gratitude restores the balance. The more we focus on what is working, one what we appreciate about our lives, our partners, our children, our jobs. our circumstances, the more aware we are that there is still good, still beauty, in our experience. Gratitude restores our thoughts on all that is still functioning well in our lives. It shifts us towards noticing what is stable, even flourishing. It helps us recognise that we are safe and turn down the alert level. It helps us to see ourselves as having choice and strengths.
Gratitude can also remind us what holds us spiritually and gives connection to our place in the world and meaning to our lives.
In allowing us to change the focus to what is working, our strengths, the people who are there for us, what is working gratitude gives us an awareness of the alternative story of what is going well in our lives. In the counselling room we often call those moments that confront the fear or sadness, sparkling moments, and often they point the way to solutions to the fears that we have. Appreciating those memories that confront patterns that have kept us focused on the problem, not on the bigger, more beautiful possibilities or the wisdom we have for moving forward..
Many years ago, a writer, Ann Voskamp, brought a challenge to her readers to find "A Thousand Gifts" to compile a list of daily moments of gratitude, with the aim of building up to 1000 moments of everyday, simple gratefulness over the course of a year.
As we seek to rebuild this year, to push back the fears and embrace our lives again, there is value in restoring a sense of conscious gratitude through reflecting on the good we encounter each day and valuing the beautiful, strong or successful moments in our lives.