“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
William Arthur Ward
As I sit in front of my last few presents waiting to be wrapped this Christmas Eve, I thought this quote was a fitting analogy for gratitude. When I think about conversations I’ve had where someone’s gratitude was so contagious that I too was inspired to share my own thankfulness for the people, events and experiences of my life, I realize just how important it is to express gratitude. Just like giving a gift after you’ve wrapped it is a natural chain of events, my hope is that expressing gratitude would come naturally to me, that words of thanksgiving would roll off my tongue often during the course of a day.
I want to have a thankful heart and be mindful of the many blessings I’ve been given. I know that it can change the course of my day and shift my attitude to one of contentment. This quote was a powerful reminder to me:
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”
Harry A. Ironside
So, as I prepare to spend time with family & friends over the next couple days and fight the “do more-buy more” expectation that can come with the season, I wanted to first take time to focus my mind and heart on all that I have to be thankful for from this past year. One of my personal goals this year was to simplify – my home, my schedule, my own expectations of myself, my possessions, etc. This was a lot harder than I anticipated, and I often fought against perfectionism in the battle for contentment. But I kept after it and found that the more thankful I was, the easier it was to simplify. I’ve learned so much about gratitude during this journey towards simplicity, and these are just some of the things I’m thankful for this year:
- The sounds of giggles & belly-laughs, my baby trying to say new words and my 7 year old learning how to read
- Watching my husband live out his passion for building a mentoring community as he runs his non-profit. It’s inspiring to hear his vision and commitment to making an impact in the next generation.
- Hugs, cuddles and butterfly kisses from my daughters
- Getting back to the basics in my adventures as a home cook, committing more and more to using whole foods and cooking from scratch
- The sights and sounds of nature – Darren and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by taking an Alaskan cruise this summer, and it was an amazing trip. Alaska is breath-taking, and we loved the simple pace of life and experiencing nature in such an up-close and “Discovery channel” kind of way. (Which is why it is so hard to capture Alaska in photos...but we sure tried! Here we are at the Mendenhall Glacier.)
- Having a job that allows me to use my strengths and talents, while still challenges me to grow, AND have an amazing team of co-workers that inspire me and make me laugh. I know how truly rare this is, and I don’t take it for granted.
- Freedom of religion- I do not take it lightly that I daily enjoy the freedom of worshiping God without fear of persecution, that I can read my Bible, attend church and profess my faith without any threats of imprisonment. Too many people are denied this freedom.
- Watching too many people this year battle major, life-threatening illnesses, I’m beyond thankful for my health, for arms and legs that function without pain, the ability to use and enjoy all of my senses, and for the incredible privilege to live life outside of a hospital bed.
- For parents that taught me the value of integrity and hard work and daily model selfless giving and unconditional love
- Friendships that are authentic and gracious, that provide me with encouragement, support and perspective through the hills and valleys of life
- Resources – access to people, books, blogs, etc. that educate, challenge, and inspire me to grow both personally and professionally (there’s at least one book about simplicity on my list this year)
I’m thankful that the hardest part in creating this blog post was figuring out how to keep it short(ish) instead of writing a white paper. (Not quite sure if I succeeded…) I know I still have a ways to go in my quest for simplicity, but I’m eager to see what I learn in the coming year and know that thankfulness will always be a part of the journey.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours!