Gratitude

I am feeling anxious today.  I woke up feeling this way.  I’m not sure what causes it – something I ate, or maybe a bad dream – but it happens from time to time.  I know that my feelings and emotions originate with my thoughts, but I am not always consciously aware of what I’m thinking about.

I call it anxiety because that’s the word I have learned to use as an adult.  When I was a child I called it fear.  I knew what it felt like to be afraid, and I usually knew why.  But as an adult I just feel sort of… anxious.

It’s this vague sense of discomfort that expands if I try to shrug it off.  But I know better than to do that.  If I don’t get to the root of the problem it grows like a cancer.  Before long, I start to feel angry and resentful.  Then I begin to sound grumpy, and I’m not nice to be around when I’m grumpy.

So, today, I hand over my anxiety to my Higher Power.  This is something I’m learning to do on a day to day basis; moment by moment, actually.  I just let it go.  I used to wonder how this was done, and I have found that practicing gratitude is the best way. 

‘Gratitude’ is a daily exercise that is done the moment I get up in the morning.  I begin by giving thanks for everything; everybody and every circumstance that comes to mind.   I am grateful for good things:  My wife and kids, my health, and all of the comforts of life that I take for granted.  I also give thanks for things like a sore back, and for my next door neighbor whom I dislike. 

It’s a form of “count your blessings” that was taught to me as a child but with a slight twist to it:  I also give thanks for the “hidden blessings.”  I express my gratitude for things that cause me pain, things that I don’t like, and things that make me feel anxious.  This is the best way I know to control my thoughts:  Don’t worry about anything, and give thanks for everything.

As simple and cliché as this may sound, it actually works!  It’s not important to know which thoughts are causing my anxiety.  I simply need to express gratitude for everything.  Period.

Something magical happens when I practice gratitude:  I start to feel better.  Practicing this on a daily basis tends to keep me on an even keel.  I don’t have ‘bad days’ like I used to.  I am a lot less grumpy.  I feel lighter, and more relaxed.  When bad things happen I recover much quicker.  My wife actually enjoys my company.  My boss doesn’t piss me off like he use to… (You get the picture.)

Happiness is a choice.  And it’s totally doable.  It just takes your resolve and some of your time.  And, yes, there are practical things that you can do to stay happy; like practicing gratitude.

Remember:

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and give thanks for everything!”  Phil.4:6