We’ve all practiced gratitude at some point in our lives. Whether it was thanking God that you finally got over the stomach flu, praising the universe you managed to ace your hardest final, or appreciating the winter months finally coming to a close, we’ve all been thankful for something “good” happening in our lives. But, how often do we practice true gratitude?

Gratitude is a funny thing. If we don’t consciously choose it, it often can’t be found. Sure, we can be “grateful” when the dentist stops drilling our teeth, or when our plane lands safely – but this isn’t conscious gratitude. This is merely a feeling of relief we get when we are either currently enduring pain, or we are expecting some sort of pain (mental or physical).

I’m talking about true, mindful gratitude. When was the last time you said “thank you” for your morning and nightly commute? How about your landlord reminding you that your rent is due? Or when your boss says you need to re-do a project?

I’m guessing that most of us aren’t used to feeling any sense of gratitude for the things that are…well, a pain in our ass. But what if we trained ourselves to?

What if we saw our morning and nightly commute as a chance to start and unwind from our day with an inspirational podcast or audio book, or to call our grandparents, or to listen to our favorite artist’s new album?

What if we wrote out our rent check for the month and thought, “wow, I am so blessed to be able to afford to live here and have a home when so many others aren’t as fortunate”?

What if we took our boss’s words as a chance to improve, to challenge ourselves, to expand on our previous thinking and create something that much better?

As humans, we are wired to think that pleasure is good, and pain (or inconvenience) is bad. But it doesn’t have to be so black and white. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know by now that I am a huge believer that training our thoughts truly alters our reality. We can choose to be grateful for the things we may find irritating or unpleasant. And once we learn how to do this, is there any limit to how sweet life can really be?

If we are grateful for not only the things that light us up and make us feel good, but the things that challenge us, piss us off, and even sometimes break us down…will we ever be lacking anything?

Of course life isn’t always sunshine and butterflies. But if we learned to take the good with the bad, would we lead happier lives? Would we be nicer to our coworkers we used to find annoying, be more patient with fellow drivers in traffic, or be more understanding when a problem arises in our relationship?

I mean, it’s worth a try right??

My challenge to you is to find the things in your life that tend to drag you down, and find one good thing about them – because there’s always one good thing if you look hard enough.

And if you’re not there yet, I’ll provide you with a list of things to be grateful for right now that you may have never even thought twice about:

  1. The rain – waters our earth, brings life to all living things
  2. Your legs – they allow you to roam this earth as you please
  3. Having a job – you have some sort of income and something that keeps you busy
  4. Your ears – you can hear all the beautiful sounds of the world including music, the ocean, and the voices of those you love
  5. Pets (specifically, dogs) – they provide unconditional love always
  6. Your eyes – you can see sunsets, your favorite movie, or the color of leaves changing
  7. Your sense of touch – you can feel your mom’s hugs, a warm bath, or the wind blowing through your hair
  8. Your immune system – keeps you healthy/fights disease
  9. Good friends – people to spend your days with – quality over quantity
  10. Your parents – they gave you life
  11. Learning from mistakes – you’re growing
  12. Education – you’re learning about the world
  13. Pain – we wouldn’t appreciate life’s joys as much
  14. Art – freedom of expression and beauty
  15. Tears – our body’s release of emotion
  16. Your mind – being able to think for yourself and make your own choices
  17. Moon and stars – remind us there are things bigger than this world
  18. Diversity – the world would be boring if we were all the same
  19. Meeting new people – you never know who you will have a connection with
  20. Life – learning, growing, and living on our own terms and on our own journey

I hope we all can learn to practice gratitude for not just the good things in life, but every single one of our experiences. What are you grateful for?

Check out my blog The Shower Thoughts Series for more insights!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash