Every day gives us all ample opportunities to practice both gratitude and fear. It doesn’t matter if you are taking your semester ending exams, helping to clean the house to welcome company, or spending some break-time with friends.
We can be fearful of the upcoming situations or the consequences of their aftermath. The test didn’t go well and our parents will be upset. No matter what we do, the guests will be critical of how the place looks. Try as we might, our friends would rather be somewhere else.
A Grateful Rope
The fear you feel and dwell upon in these situations draws you inward. It becomes a bit of black hole, speeding you down a path of increasing anxiety. Not a good place, is it?
What lifeline is most available to you while drowning in that cramped world of fear? You guessed: gratitude.
You’ve had good teachers and are thankful of the time you had to prepare. If the test didn’t go well, then you are grateful to know you need to change your preparation habits. The place may not be as clean as you’d like but you are more grateful to spend time with your guests. Getting to do anything with your friends out of school is just great!
Gratitude puts an exclamation point on the end of the day. Think about how we practice that at camp: someone always asks you for your ‘highs’ of the day. (If you are a 7th grader or younger, Cole and Kate ask for your two happies.) This is a great way to practice a bit of reflection by thinking about your day and gratitude by expressing your thankfulness for a few great moments.
A Rich Year
As we near the end of 2019, many of us will spend time reflecting on the prior 12 months. This is a good practice to do daily but, with the turn of the calendar and bit of breathing room, it’s more often an ‘end of year’ practice.
During the process, make sure to spend some time practicing gratitude. That means you’ve got to think about the good things and say ‘thank you’ to those who helped make those good moments reality. These stress of the preceding months can weigh you down a bit as can the bustle of the holidays. If we aren’t careful, we can switch back over to worry and fear leading us to feel overwhelmed and alone.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us:
In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.
Be rich in during the end of this year and in the start of the next. Give thanks to those who have impacted your path in this past year. By practicing gratitude you’ll be more likely to end this year with an !
(Hat tip to one of my teachers, Chuck H., for this idea!)