Life is nothing but a series of choices. And accordingly, we make hundreds of choices everyday. And the crazy part is that in the aftermath of every choice we make, is yet another choice – gratitude.
Gratitude or thankfulness, is a term that I’m sure you’ve been lectured upon by your parents, many many times. We all have. How to be thankful has been pounded into us from when we were children. We have been told repetitively that we need to be more thankful for what we have. The lectures didn’t work then. And I’m sure they won’t work now, so I’ll try and avoid that route!
So, why choose gratitude?
It’s an interesting question. Why choose gratitude? What is there to be grateful for when you have a crappy boss? Someone who comes down on you like a ton of bricks for the slightest goof-up? Why should you choose to be grateful for getting laid off? Or for having a job that forces you to commute two hours one-way everyday? What is possibly there to be grateful for in situations like that?
It’s a matter of perspective.
It’s the mental equivalent of looking up or down. Looking downward into a deep, dank well or looking upward into a tiny patch of clear blue sky! Choosing gratitude is the choosing of hope over despair and choosing goodwill over hostility.
When you make the choice to feel gratitude, you choose to look at the situation calmly and objectively. And to cherry-pick the silver linings in your dark clouds to think about. That while you are deeply aware of the darker aspects of the situation, you CHOOSE not to dwell on them. You choose NOT to make your life and outlook darker. You choose instead to focus on feeling better about your life than feeling shittier. It’s a simple choice really.
It’s a matter of your sanity.
Choosing gratitude leaves you in a better, more accepting and more positive frame of mind. It saves your sanity and leaves it intact to see another day. And now let’s take all those people who urge you to face the reality of the situation. Let’s face it – no one else really understands what you go through. Oh yes, your family and friends love you and want the best for you. But they can’t feel what you feel, suffer what you suffer or breathe the air that you breathe. Only you can do that. So when you make a choice to feel gratitude, you make a choice to improve your own mental state. A choice that only you can make, because only you will truly live with it’s results.
Let me give you an example from a work context…Let’s assume that I may have chosen to work on what promised to be an exciting new project at work. But which ultimately turned out to be an shit-storm of clashing opinions & roiling frustration. With no actual work getting done.
Now I can choose to be disappointed & unhappy – to rage, storm and be unhappy with the choice I made. To despair that all isn’t the way I want it to be, the way it should be
Or I can choose to feel a disproportionate amount of gratitude. For the opportunity to have learnt that some things can seem exciting but turn into a shit-storm. For the lesson in how to make a better choice in the future. For the chance to learn to deal with frustration, anger and rage and still get work done.
So, why does this matter?
It matters because of how I will feel later. If I choose disappointment and unhappiness then I will feel depressed, angry, frustrated, demotivated. And most importantly, I will be unable to trust my own judgement in the future.
If I choose gratitude, then I will feel rueful yet accepting, calm and reflective. I will be better able to identify the lessons that the situation can teach me. And most of all, I will feel hopeful and come away feeling like I learnt something. Gratitude, that my time and energy was not completely wasted. So, I choose gratitude 😃 What would you choose?