It’s probably an understatement to say that 2020 was not such a great year for many people, unless of course you were Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. One of the things that I have struggled with this year, as I know many of us have, is the inability to connect, in person, with family and friends. I can tell you that not a weekend has gone by where I have not lamented about this (ask my wife, I’m sure she will tell you that I am driving her nuts).
This past weekend was no different for me, and when Monday morning hit, I was feeling particularly down when I headed out for my morning walk with our dog. I often use these morning walks as an opportunity to be mindful, and every now and then, they result in an idea or thought that proves useful for me that day. So, as I glumly trudged along, it finally hit me right between the eyes. I realized that I was moping about what I did not have – external connection – – and forgetting about the many things that I do have to be grateful for. As a smile drew across my face, I began to think of the things I was grateful for and immediately noticed the improvement in my mood and energy. In fact, by the time I hit the gym that morning and then started work, the positivity and energy that had sparked from that one moment of gratitude ended up carrying me right through the day.
Many have written about the power of gratitude and toted the benefits of a daily gratitude practice. While I have toyed off and on with such a practice over the past couple of years, I only came to realize its true power while walking that morning with our dog. After having experienced how profoundly and for how long that simple act affected me throughout the day, I have now renewed my commitment to adopting a daily gratitude practice and I encourage you to do the same.
I know that some reading this might think that they have nothing to be grateful for during a pandemic. Here is my list and maybe some of it resonates with you: I am grateful to have such a supportive wife; children who, now as young adults, still like talking to me and hanging out with me; a really great group of friends; family who I know will be there for me if I ever needed it; an awesome dog; good health; a roof over my head; food on the table…I really could go on and on.
As I write this, the memory of my mom’s and my aunt’s passing flood my mind. Yes, there has been pain and sadness over the past few years which still resonates, however, I will forever be grateful for knowing that there are still things to be grateful for even in terrible times. In my aunt’s case, I will never forget my father seeing her for the first time in intensive care. Until that time, she had been completely unresponsive, and when he called her name she visibly shook – she knew he was there and they had that one last beautiful moment together as a brother and sister who clearly cared for each other. In my mom’s case, I will be forever grateful that my father, brother, sister and I could be there for her the moment she passed in solidarity for the person who gave so selflessly to all of us. Those days seem like only yesterday.
So, as we enter into the Holiday Season, let’s remember what we have to be grateful for. I urge you to reach out to someone that you are particularly grateful for and tell them. No doubt you will feel the strength that this one simple act of gratitude gives to both you and them.