Two words come to mind when I think about a life we’ll lived: intentionally grateful.
We can choose to look at our lives through a lense of scarcity or a lense of abundance. The difference being, of course, how you see the world around you.
Some people may look at my childhood as being one of scarcity. I grew up poor. I know what it’s like to be homeless. I remember one cold winter living in a homeless shelter in Lincoln Nebraska with my younger brother, my mother, and my step father.
At the time it made me angry. I felt like I was on the outside, without much hope that things would get better. I buried myself in books. Fantasy mostly as I visited the fantastic new worlds created by authors such as Terry Brooks, Tolkien, and Piers Anthony.
My love for reading began that winter. How I saw the world around me changed. I remember people coming to the shelter to volunteer, a few of them I’ll never forget as they gave me a new outlook on life. I learned to be grateful for the things you have. For the people that show you love. I learned that there are worse things in life than not having a home.
I met people devoid of hope, their eyes empty and lifeless. They lost sight of what they did have because they couldn’t get past the things they didn’t.
I saw anger and sorrow. Jealousy and fear. I’ve seen humanity at its worst but above all I learned that hope sustains.
Lots of things can be taken away from you but hope is something that can only be given away. For that I am grateful.
My own hope pulls me forward. It keeps me focused on what I want in life for both myself and my family. It gives me breathing room. It gives me time to think about who I want to be.
I’ve learned what it means to live a life with intent. To be a product of my own dreams and ambitions and not what the outside world dictates.
I’ve learned the power of being intentionally grateful. You must learn to be grateful for the things you have without losing your hope and ambition for something greater.
Growing up I didn’t have much, but I did have a mother that loved me unconditionally. She gave me something much more valuable than stuff, she gave me love. At the time it didn’t feel like it was enough but as I look back on those moments I realize that’s exactly what it was, enough.
I’m grateful for everything:
- For the bird song I’m listening to as I write this.
- The relationship I have with my wife
- My full head of hair.
- My fingers as I type away at this post (on my phone).
- The strength of my mind.
- My career.
- Eyes that see.
- My voice.
- My children.
- The way my dogs are excited to see me even if I’m gone for only 5 minutes.
The list goes on an on. I’m intentional with my gratitude. I remind myself everyday what I’m thankful for. I look around and say thank you for what I have. I’ve learned how to be happy no matter what because it’s a decision that I made.
A decision that I’ll continue to make.
By being intentionally grateful I don’t have time, nor the desire, to mourn the things I don’t have.
Starting today, make a decision to be intentionally grateful. Look around and say, out loud, 10 things that you’re grateful for.
It would sound something like this, “Today, I am grateful for ___________ (ears that can hear the beautiful birdsong all around me).”
Say it with intention. Feel the words as you say them. Feels good doesn’t it? Now, do 9 more. Then, do this exercise everyday. More if you’re feeling down. You’d be surprised at how uplifting being intentionally grateful can be. Do it enough and you’ll change your whole outlook on life.
What are you grateful for today? Share them in the comment section below, I’d LOVE to read them.