For the love of gratitude

Kathy Krugerbalance, contentment, gratitude, perspective16 Comments

Do you love gratitude for its own sake, or do you practice it like you might have practised piano to escape the wrath of a stern teacher with an evil eye when you were a kid?

Do you ‘do’ gratitude, like it’s a duty, in the same way we sometimes forgive more out of self-righteousness than understanding?

Do you fake it until you make it? I know I do.

And could there ever be any room for gratitude in cancer?

So many wonderful words have been written about the power of gratitude and tools to cultivate it – gratitude boards, lists, daily diaries and other ways of making it a routine that nourishes your life and the lives of those around you (who you are going to much more grateful for).

Grateful for the chaos! Is my gratitude board saying something?

Grateful for the chaos! Is my gratitude board saying something?

Even though I know (and love) its benefits, I’m still working on being grateful ENOUGH. And that, I have to admit, is part of the problem.

Without wanting to rain on the gratitude parade, it seems to me that it needs to be much more felt spontaneously, like joy, and much less practiced diligently, like patience.

Start by being grateful for what you get to eat

Start by being grateful for what you get to eat

Some yinyang yum

Some yinyang yum

Gratitude, to a word lover like me, is simply short for ‘great attitude’. We need to (try to) bring this attitude everywhere we go, every day, rather than making it a scheduled routine, or even a habit, that we still have to think about in order to practise or only acknowledge in hindsight.

Now I know this is easier said than done and I’m grateful that you have read this far, since I am sounding kinda preachy.

Believe me, I am the first to acknowledge that not only do I not ‘DO’ gratitude as well as I should, but I jump to judge myself against the successes and fortunes of others (comparison – the antithesis of gratitude), I indulge in martyrdom (which means I compare my suffering self-righteously with others) and sometimes I even do showy gratitude (to make myself look good or as some kind of recompense to make myself feel better).

I don’t think you can truly be grateful when it is only in comparison to others.

I don’t think shows of gratitude really count. It has to come from the heart, from love.

Gratitude should be our natural state that springs from the same geyser that joy spouts from – joy and gratitude pretty much flow simultaneously together and we just need to hold still in that moment and truly experience it.

I know its gratitude when I catch myself mesmerised in my son’s eyes and I can’t believe that he’s mine, or when I watch my daughter dance and marvel at how she has given grace movement. Gratitude is found in wonder and awe at nature, a welling of love at a thoughtful act of a spouse. The geyser flows and I am both grateful and joyous.

And then sometimes, we come to gratitude only through the grace of surrender. We let it flow out of us – we open the valve to let out a trickle and maybe it turns into a flood.

I read a post last week by an American woman whose blog and journey I follow as she lives with Stage 4 rectal cancer. Needless to say her insights are beyond inspiring. And the other day she spoke of reaching a point where she simply surrendered – where she became grateful for the cancer – not only the lessons it had taught her, the perspective it had given her, the strength she had found within herself, but its very presence in her life in that moment in which she had started bleeding again and could only wonder – what next?

She sat with herself in that moment and made the choice to be grateful for being alive in that very second, living with cancer. Grateful not just for the good stuff in her life, but for the cancer. And that, to me, was profound. The way she wrote it seemed she had truly fallen in unconditional love with gratitude.

OMG this is yinyang balance – to truly experience gratitude in moments of joy and to surrender to it, to ‘lean in’, as Cheryl Sandburg might say, to the pain that suddenly feels so much less painful when you are grateful for it.

Gratitude allows us to balance out the ‘good’ and ‘bad’.

Much inspired, I am working on (and I know that according to my theory it should just come naturally, blah, blah, blah) being grateful for my infertility.

Of course I’m immensely grateful for having adopted our children and I’m thankful for the lessons I learned through infertility, the perspective it gave me, the strength I gained. And I think I am getting close to simply feeling grateful for it. Full stop.

This requires genuine surrender to the loss and regrets, but it seems so much easier when compared to being grateful for living with a grave cancer that is threatening your life right now. Surely I can do it?

If gratitude is a great attitude to practice, and if it is joyous when we experience it spontaneously, imagine how truly powerful it can be when we surrender to it, simply for the love of it.

In fact what’s the hardest things you could be grateful for? I worked my way there and I reckon you can too.


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Kathy KrugerFor the love of gratitude

16 Comments on “For the love of gratitude”

  1. Me

    Oh Kathy – gratitude = great attitude – I love it !!!
    This is just what I needed to read. I have been practising gratitude but this is what I need to embrace and work on – I need to surrender to it and not feel like it is something I have to do – it is just something that I am/do.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    Have the best day !
    Love, hugs and positive energy.

  2. iSophie

    It is a hard thing to master, honestly, I doubt anyone has? But if we are at least conscious of it and make an effort it has to be a good start! #teamIBOT

  3. Emily @ Have a laugh on me

    Wow that is some sort of person to be grateful for something that could take her life. I have a gratitude journal that I’m not very good at writing in – naughty me 🙁 – but I try. WOW on the 99th post – can’t wait to see 100! Em x

    1. yinyangmother

      Thanks Em – I think Marie has an incredible attitude. I think my biggest problem is thinking of things that I’m NOT grateful for, which sort of counteracts being thankful about other things!

  4. Zanni Louise

    Interesting idea Kathy…I think I agree in a way. Gratitude practice is very faddy at the moment. But I think what works about gratitude practice is that it gives you a reminder to come back and focus on what you have rather than lust over what you want. So much psychological energy gets put into feeling jealous or comparing ourselves to others. Focusing on our ‘haves’ redirects that energy. In terms of practice, sometimes putting a smile on or focusing on small happy things can cultivate happier thought patterns. They over time become more internalised and spontaneous. Maybe? xx

    1. yinyangmother

      I do agree Zanni – maybel the thought of it just being sponataneous, or even being something that you surrender too, is too ‘noble’. We have to work at things, and practice makes…well…better. And you are so right that we operate in thought patterns. I think the main thing is to capture the spontaneous moments of gratitude when they happen and to realise that we can be grateful, without even trying!

  5. Marie Colantoni Pechet

    So – here I sit, a few days after you originally posted this, because I wanted to wait until I had some quiet time to just be with you and your writing and then I read THIS! I am blown away and very touched. AND you crack me up. I didn’t start out being grateful, for sure. Like everything, it was one step at a time, and those first few were real efforts! Love your post, love the word breakdown (very cool!) and love that you are on 99. Really looking forward to enjoying your 100th. Sending love and balance and joyful moments all day long.

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      1. Marie Colantoni Pechet

        It is all so fun, no? My kids just got out of school today so wish me luck on making the most of the summer. I always have such grand designs for that block of time, and then, we mostly just hang out….Anyway, thanks for helping to make this gratitude thing so FUN.

        1. yinyangmother

          Have a great summer – we lived in Canada in 2011 so go this experience of that long stretch of holidays and I really get how your appreciate warm weather (although I know the warm weather bit didn’t last very long for us, more like six weeks)!

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