Thursday, August 27, 2015

TBT: Being thankful for every day

This first appeared August 26, 2009; it was my third-ever blog post. 

Today's Cryptogram was "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." It's Ralph Waldo Emerson (not LL Cool J, who apparently posted it on his web site recently).

Just yesterday I was thinking about the fact that being grateful for each new day is one of the better pieces of self-help advice I ever got. Habitually making the conscious choice to appreciate what you've got changes your approach to the day. I notice it in my responses when greeted with "How are you?" Old responses: tired, overworked, hate the weather, I have this ache.... New responses, at least some of the time: great, love this sunshine, too busy but glad to have a job in this economy, and of course the newly popular, having the time of my life being a grandma.

That single change makes things go better, and it's a bit of a gift to others, too, since negative energy sucks the life out of everyone around. Being open--loving life, things, people--makes us grow existentially; we expand to incorporate in our being that which we love.

I was thinking about these things last night while I couldn't sleep (which made today's Cryptogram a timely surprise). I started thinking about the prayer we were taught to say as children: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." My mother assured me that I was asking God to watch over me, but it sure seemed that I was inviting someone to snatch my soul in the middle of the night. What a creepy thing to teach a child. What did we learn from this recitation, except fear? How did it teach us to be good little people?

So at 2 or 3 a.m. I asked myself, "What prayer would I teach a child, if I were going to do such a thing?" I decided it would be something like, "I give thanks for this new day; please help me use it well." And later in the day, "Thanks for all the good things that happened today." And then we'd talk about good and not-so-good things from the day that offer teachable moments.

When Peter woke up too, I mentioned this, and we agreed that these are messages Augie and Vi are already getting. Mommy Abby is effusive and animated about pretty much everything they do and see in the course of a day, and any little gift or kindness that someone extends. They can't possibly just take things for granted when she is so relentlessly appreciative. I talk to Augie about this beautiful day, the beautiful garden, the wonderful sunny day... and now we hear him express his own appreciation of beauty...that's a beautiful cat, look at all the beautiful flowers, etc. And we all celebrate the kids' achievements, letting them know how clever, funny. strong, talented, beautiful, kind, and loving they are.

I sometimes have wondered whether we confuse the quest for happiness with spiritual growth. But I have no doubt that these life-affirming, positive, confidence-building messages are totally superior to anything I got from the Catholic Church of my youth. When happiness is based on authentic appreciation of what one has and is and does, it will produce children (and grownups) who are far more fully developed individuals, in pretty much every dimension, than we ever were. As for me, in my new-found blissed-out state, I am a better person than I have been for a long time!


Far Side of Fifty said...

A great old post...your Grands were so little then! A good reminder to think positive:)

Sally Wessely said...

You look as if you are very much at peace.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

"When happiness is based on authentic appreciation of what one has and is and does, it will produce children (and grownups) who are far more fully developed individuals,"

Okay, thanks for reminding me I haven't written my gratitude list today. On it right after commenting. Great post. Isn't it most interesting to look back and see what we wrote back when. Sometimes I look at it and say, "Really? I wrote that?"

Onto gratitude.

Jeanie said...

This is a terrific post to revisit and a wonderful reminder to not operate on auto-pilot. The kind people who say hello or ask us something deserve better -- even if they are operating on autopilot too!

I always thought that was a creepy prayer. No wonder kids don't go to sleep! I like yours much better!

stephen Hayes said...

I too was raised a catholic, but now my spirituality is less organized and more practical and nature oriented.

Jayne Martin said...

Not a morning or evening go by without this simple little prayer: Thank you, God, for this day. I am blessed in every way." And I am. I AM. :)

Unknown said...

It isn't always easy but life is so much better if you have a smile on your face. Great post!

DJan said...

Wonderful! It's amazing how quickly time passes for me these days. That is a perfect thing on which to meditate each day, every day. :-)


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