by Joan Smith York
For a long time, I resisted gratitude. When someone would say “Joan, you should be grateful for…” I didn’t always feel it. However, life gave me another chance to learn about gratitude.
A few years ago, when I was in Fairbanks, Alaska, I tried a little experiment with gratitude. A friend suggested it just as winter was closing in. Mel and I were both having a hard time with the Alaskan winters and politics at work. I was sure my boss hated me and took every opportunity to give me a hard time. Knowing temperatures would soon dip below zero and daylight would shrink made everything much worse. It was easy to get discouraged, and we were.
What Mel suggested was a daily email exchange. Each day, without fail, we were to list three things for which we were grateful. I started out with a certain amount of skepticism, struggling to find things I could list. Day 1: “I am grateful for my morning coffee, that my house is warm, and that it’s the weekend.” Work days were harder: “I am grateful that my boss is out of town, that my office has a window, and that my car started after sitting outside all day.”
It didn’t take long before I started to notice other little things for which I could be grateful. My meeting with the principal went better than I expected. One of my coworkers was actually decent. I had a good conversation with a teenager. It soon became obvious that my mindset had subtly shifted. It even seemed like my experiences were becoming more positive. I went from feeling “I hate my job and I’m trapped in this depressing place!” to “My job may have its challenges, but it does have some bennies, like sometimes I can actually help people…and the pay allows me to buy warm fuzzy things.”
Random good things started happening to me out of the blue. In November, I got to go for a three-week leadership training in Kansas. The training was inspiring, and when I got back, work was much better. I was somehow able to get to the right people and solve problems. My horrible boss got another job and the new boss was pretty great. Then came my most satisfying year at work since I’d been in Alaska. Melanie had the same kind of turnarounds in her life. Our gratitude circle was starting to seem magical.
Gratitude helped me to raise my vibration. As a Spiritualist, I believe “that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.” Gratitude works through the law of attraction. In The Power, Rhonda Byrne offers the Key of Gratitude: “Every time you feel grateful you are giving love and whatever you give, you receive.”
I encourage you to try a gratitude circle, especially if you’re experiencing difficulty. It may take an act of faith at first, but I promise that you will find it worthwhile if you really commit yourself to the practice.