My bridal shower is this weekend. My friends and family have been hard at work planning the entire day (and keeping me away from it all).

And I just want to recognize how much it means to me. How lucky I am. To have loving friends and family who would put aside an entire day just to celebrate a special time in my life.

So all this week I’ll be paying special tribute to all the things I’m grateful for because it’s times like these that we should look around and be thankful for the people in our lives.

It only takes a second to recognize how grateful we are, but it can really mean the difference between a good and a bad day. Try it yourself along with me!

Time to Be

If there’s an adage that I agree wholeheartedly with, it’s this one:

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Because, indeed, nobody has time for that. Or anything. We’re always rushing to be some place and then not really being present while we’re there. We eat dinner in front of the tv to laugh tracks, we go to events just to instagram them, we count down the hours until the working day has ended.

But do you know what everyone actually has time for? To be grateful. To stop what you’re doing and look around and just take in where you are. You may notice that the sun is shining (or not), or the birds are chirping (or not), and everything is going right (or not). But be grateful for all of it. If you’re having a bad day, be grateful that most things have gone right for you, and that this day will pass. If you’re alive, you get to start over.

If you look hard enough, there’s always something to be grateful for. So stop what

you’re doing and be on the look out for it.

What are you most grateful for?

Get Grateful

You know how the local news frequently interviews little old ladies that are like 100 and they’re all like what’s your secret and the little old lady is like “I drink scotch and play poker.” Or they’re like, “I never had a husband.” Or they’re like, “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” And to everything’s you’re like huh, makes sense. And you take down the scotch and peanut butter for later, because who doesn’t want to live forever and be interviewed by the local news?

While I don’t doubt the wisdom of old ladies on the news, I have to say that I would think that there’s an easier way for a long life: Enjoy what you have. 

The number one way to stress yourself out is to want or wish for something that isn’t yours. It is to focus on the future, which isn’t here yet. Rich people, poor people, sick people, healthy people, young, old, you name it. They’re stressed. But why? Because they’re not looking around at what they have and being happy they have it. They’re just looking at it and saying more. 

It’s really as simple and uncomplicated as that. Be grateful about more stuff in your life. You will be a much happier person for recognizing your life as an abundant success than a laughing stock. 

I mean, by all means, drink the scotch. Life is short, after all. But be grateful for the scotch and your life too. Your health and yourself, as the little old ladies will tell you, do not last forever.  

I Miss Thunder

We had a storm tonight. The lightning flashing and the lights flickering kind of storm. Actually, it was the kind of storm that you would typically see roll over the horizon during the summer, when all the windows are open and you can actually feel the change in barometric pressure. It’s exciting.

As long as you’re inside. Or at least, under cover. When I was younger, I used to watch storms come in from the porch of my grandparents’ house. The awning above provided just enough protection to see and hear the storm instead of feeling it. (But I can remember standing in some puddles afterward, which was the perfect amount of wet for me.)

I found that I missed thunder tonight. Actually, I always miss it around this time of year because, right about now, summer feels like the furthest thing. And for me, thunder is one of those rare anchors for the seasons.

But I also realized that I missed the feeling thunder gives me. Again, when I’m safe inside.

Because when you’re cozy and sound inside of a dwelling when thunder is booming, it really makes you appreciate what you have, in a way that you don’t on a perfectly sunny day. (Or maybe it just makes you happy that you’re not out in that mess).

For me, it makes me hunker down a little further and feel a little bit more relaxed about what’s going on around me. Like maybe it’s not that bad, because I’m not out there. Everything is okay as long as I’m not out in that storm, being tossed by wind and drummed by thunder.

And when it’s all over, I can still play in the puddles. (As long as I make sure that the lightning has stopped.)

In the end, thunder just awakes some primal instinct in us that makes us grateful for the shelter that we have. But if you find yourself stuck out in it, at least the ducks think you’re lucky. I guess there’s always a brighter side to a lightning strike.

Fully Full

I don’t think anyone would say that they are intentionally ungrateful. I’m not sure I’d have much respect for someone who says, “Yeah, I like my warm bed at night, but I’m not really living until I can make it vibrate with a touch of a remote,” anyway. But it happens (not the vibrating bed thing, the ungratefulness thing).

We forget how lucky we are to have food on our table, electricity and running water in our houses, and most importantly for some, internet access so that we can talk to the rest of the world. Sometimes we just get caught up in what we should have and we forget about what we do have. Like I said, it happens–and it happens to the best of us.

But why?

I have a theory. You know that half full/half empty/optimist/pessimist glass of water metaphor? Well, I’d like to extend that idea. I think everyone is given a cup when they’re born. We gain and lose a lot of liquid from our cups. The more we give and do for others, the more we drain that cup. And that’s alright.

Unless we don’t leave any for ourselves, any liquid to hydrate with, any warmth to soak up through that cup. That’s when we get frustrated and stressed. That’s when we get a little ungrateful. Because we’re giving and giving, and then we have nothing left. And we can’t see half full/half empty because we see nothing.

Then, when the cups are full, we notice that, too. We notice the weight, we notice the warmth it gives us. We are more likely to be grateful for what we have when we can readily see it.

The problem is then really simple: we need to be grateful when our cups aren’t so full. When we don’t have much left, and what we have left is going to be given away. But how?

Of course, that’s where I get stuck a lot, and I don’t have all the answers. But I think I figured out a solution: when we have nothing left, when we’re not fully full, we have to be grateful for the cup, which in case you got confused earlier, is quite simply, the fact that you are alive. So, if you have nothing to put in your cup, just be thankful for the fact that someday you will. Because the capacity to be grateful is all you need to be so.