As we enter into the third year of Covid, I’ve been working on my mental outlook. When the vaccines came out last year, I thought we’d turned a corner. Soon we could hug relatives, travel, eat in restaurants, attend plays and concerts, and rid ourselves of the ‘Have I got Covid?” panic every time we got a runny nose. The return to ‘normal’ was short lived. Even if we are so done with Covid, the virus isn’t done with us. So instead of dancing until dawn, I’m listening on Spotify to 21 Days of Gratitude, a meditation series with Deepak Chopra and Oprah.
Feeling gratitude is just the first step. Feeling gratitude without expressing it is like wrapping a gift in bows and fancy paper, then putting it in your closet. Appreciation can be a small act. When the clerk at the grocery store checked me out, I told her how much I appreciated her wearing a mask and coming to work, so I could get food. She said “You’re welcome,” and I hope she was smiling under the mask. It can also help with connections to others. I listed all the people who I’m thankful for in my life. I filled a whole page. Then I picked three to express my appreciation. Number one is my husband, who kept me sane during this crazy time, and who I take for granted at times. (Thank you, Michael Detrie, for making me smile every day.)
Gratitude requires a shift in my perspective. When I went outside to get the newspaper yesterday morning in the gray dawn, I could have complained about the cold, dodged the patches of ice, and felt the twinge of pain in my back as I bent down. Instead, I looked east and saw the beginning of a glorious sunrise, with streaks of pink and purple silhouetting the black branches of our maple tree. Another early morning riser was out walking her dog and gave me a wave. When I returned to the house, my wonderful husband had a cup of coffee ready for me. I read the morning headlines with a sense of thankfulness for my warm house, my snuggly throw, and the dear man who normally braves the cold to bring in the paper.
Gratitude leads to grace. The Christian definition of grace is a freely given, unmerited gift from God. Gratitude can lead to a spiritual condition where the influence of God’s love—or Deepak’s Higher Being—colors our interactions with others and ourselves. Grace doesn’t need to be a mystical state that in order to reach, we need to pray on a mountain top. With simple steps, we can change our mind set to be aware to give thanks continually, even when we face challenges. By transforming our attitude in a positive direction, we can achieve a state of grace.
Unfortunately, for me, maintaining this state of grace is like trying to catch a goldfish with my bare hands. I almost have it, then it slips away. My husband’s brand-new t-shirts accidentally got washed in warm water and he nicely pointed it out. Thankfully they didn’t shrink to Ken doll size. But my warm feeling of all-encompassing love lost a little of its glow. I made a set of earrings with beads I just ordered from Etsy and I didn’t pull the thread snug enough. They’re too loose and floppy and look ugly. Frustration chipped away at my inner peace. I chaired a meeting yesterday with a disagreeable person in attendance. Grace, please don’t go. You know I love you so.
So today I’m going back to the basics of a gratitude journal. List five things you are thankful for:
- Elastic waistbands
- A broken bathroom scale
- Toilet paper refill roll within easy reach
- Piggly Wiggly sale on my favorite wine
- Finding the bar of Lindt’s Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt that I hid before Christmas
It’s a good thing sauvignon blanc and dark chocolate go well together. With each morsel and swallow, my state of grace is slowly returning.