If you think this is your regular lemonade stand . . . think again. This is #thegratitudestand . . . where we put our foot down for gratitude. There is no wiggle room here. This is where
the pedal hits the metal,
the rubber hits the road,
the schnizzle meets the dizzlel
You get the picture. A simple and forthright stand for gratitude!
Now, I know that sounds pretty cool and I could probably get away with writing just about #thegratitudestand. But I am not going to do that today. Why? Because there is so much weight and truth and call for action in this topic, that to give it anything but the best treatment, would be to deny everything it is.
Standing Up and Trusting
This is about standing up and trusting in the most all encompassing and effective means for change – the practice of gratitude. And I know about gratitude. I have been actively studying and practicing gratitude for nearly 5 years, I am currently developing gratitude research with elementary aged children in completion of my PhD, as well as developing a community based People owned Psychology Program. I guess you could say I eat, sleep, and drink gratitude. So I know what the research says and perhaps, even more important, I can tell you what happens when you live a grateful life.
Now if you have heard my talk from December 2017 ( link here please ), you will remember that gratitude is universally accepted as a ‘positive modifier’ (Layous & Lyubomirsky, 2014); meaning that gratitude changes things in a positive way.
Now, that’s good. Who would have thought of gratitude as transformative? Bottom line is – when gratitude is introduced into situations, the results are positive. And when you practice gratitude as a way of life – your life improves. It cannot do anything but!
The practice of gratitude is a multi-dimensional experience that is transformative when consistently practiced. Woods and his colleagues (2010) call it a life orientation of gratitude. Does that sound like a sappy and saccharine existence? Striving to appreciate and be thankful no matter what comes your way? I may have thought so a few years ago . . . when I was as grateful as anyone else, but no more. Let me explain and I will start off with something bad because that seems to be where the questions always gravitate to.
Gratitude in Tough Times
How can you be grateful when something bad happens? Simple answer. You step back to the point where you can be grateful.
I was going away for business and put extra care into making sure my elderly dog was cared for in a way that would be optimal for her. I had arranged for some dog loving renters of mine to watch her. They brought her into the house and cared for her as well as any family member would have. I had done everything I could to make her comfortable and allow her to stay at home. I had put some concrete and intentional energy into this – which is why the second part of the story is particularly sad.
One morning the two gentlemen (they were old friends) got into an argument, forgot about the dog, and ran over her and crushed her pelvis. She would die from her injuries. This was my baby. What do I do with this information? Of course, I am sad and angry and disappointed in these people. But what do I do? My dog is gone. I am a gratitude gal, I know about gratitude . . .
I had to stand back on this one. And what I mean by that is I had to intentionally step back far enough from the situation until I could be grateful for something, until I could get far enough away in my mind from the negative event to be able to find appreciation, to be grateful for our “Leenies’, who had given us so many years of chaotic pleasure. Of course, this is not removing myself physically, I am after all over 3,000 miles away from my dog when this happens, I mean mentally I broaden my scope of the situation until I can find something to be grateful for.
Let me explain.
Pretend for a moment that you are standing next to a large bon fire. The heat standing next to it is intense, it becomes painful. You take a step back. The wind blows ashes into your face and you are uncomfortable and you step back. And you keep stepping back away from the heat, the discomfort, until you find just the right place to stand and experience the fire. In good times you could say you found your sweet spot. In hard times this is the point where you may feel you can finally catch your breath and this is where you can finally allow yourself to find gratitude.
The intent here is never to remove sadness, that’s not what we are looking for. Sadness will take it’s individual journey, however it may, but allowing yourself to rest in gratitude, may often be the only authentic and soothing respite you may have. Some of you may ask “Why bother”? and my answer today is quite different from what it would have been, even a couple years earlier. It has to do with honor.
My story is of a dog. But it could have been a story of my parents, opportunities lost, mistakes made, dreams not realized . . . it could have been of any painful situation, any loss. And it would still come around to honor. Gratitude has taught me to honor moments – even the ones that are so negative that you feel as if your heart will break and never be complete again.
The pain in these moments is enough. It becomes the title, the descriptor. It Captains the situation and frames it. And appreciation and gratitude, in this case for my dog, is the most honorable thing I could do. I could continue to be angry, disappointed, and sad, which I will naturally be off and on for awhile, or I can honor my dog by rejoicing in the memories of our time together.
And what happens, if I allow it, the appreciation and gratitude that I am then able to experience soothes me. It cannot do otherwise. Because the quality and nature of gratitude is to fill in,
much like the nature of water, so that when we allow gratitude in, in times of pain, it fills in all the empty crevices and cracks, (they are always there to fill in – believe me), and we are eased.
So when I say this is where we put our foot down for gratitude – where we make a #stand4gratitude,
I hope you can understand why.
It is the right thing to do,
the courageous thing to do,
the thoughtful thing to do,
the compassionate thing to do,
and it leads us to
growth and happiness.
Pretty cool, huh?
I gladly #stand4gratitude.
With sincere appreciation and gratitude for your journey,
#karenschaal #stand4gratitude #believebegrateful #gratitudematters #positiveonlinepsychology #gratitudegals #GGstogetheringratitude