The resolution of gratitude
The new year is an opportunity to create a fresh start and make resolutions that will lead us to a happier and healthier life. But as the weeks pass, our enthusiasm often wanes and, by February, many of us are back to our old habits.
Jeannie Lancaster grew tired of resolving year after year to lose weight, eat healthier and stop biting her nails. One year, she decided to make a change she could stick with long term – a shift in focus that would bring her greater happiness. Here’s what she said in her story “Resolution Evolution,” in our book about making resolutions:
I am the mother of three adult children with special needs who are still living with us. I have also recently been diagnosed with a neurological disorder that affects my ability to do many of the things that I have enjoyed over the years. It is very easy to become mired in discouragement. I hate to admit it, but I have held several “pity parties” and sadly invited many family members and friends to attend. That is where I found myself last year at resolution-making time. I knew that I needed to do something different.
I started reflecting about the time when my children were young. During those years, my husband and I consciously made a point of remembering what we called “golden moments.” The day my son finally learned to tie his shoes, at 17, was one of those times. It was definitely a golden moment.
During my children’s youth, I held tight to the memories of special times, successes and joys. I tucked them away in my mind to be pulled out later during moments of discouragement, when things were not going well.
So as the new year began, I resolved to once again consciously look for golden moments each day, for special blessings, for everyday occurrences that led me to a sense of gratitude and wonder. The marvelous thing was, they were everywhere!
One day as I was out walking downtown, I became discouraged about my difficulties with walking and my need to use a cane. As I was grumbling to myself, I looked across the street and saw a man in a wheelchair with no legs. This may seem like an overused cliche, but it reinforced for me the fact that perspective plays a pivotal role in my attitude and ability to face adversity. When I received invitations to friends’ children’s college graduations, weddings and baby showers, I felt sad that my children might not experience those same things. But then I reflected that they were all good and caring people who brought great joy to my days. Our life wasn’t bad; it was just different.
As time went by, I realized more and more that it was the simple things that were making the biggest difference for me. I found myself pausing to enjoy a beautiful sunset or a mother bird building a nest outside my living room window. I saw a person’s kindness as a dear gift.
I guess you could say that I made it my resolution to play the “Glad Game.” You know the one, from the movie “Pollyanna,” where in even the most difficult situations, Pollyanna finds something to be glad about. There are probably many people who would scoff and declare this a saccharine-coated way of dealing with life. My answer to them would be: “Why not? Why in this world of trouble and heartache should I not want to consciously choose to seek a better vision, a more grateful heart?”
Am I good at it all the time? Definitely not! I still get discouraged from time to time. I still find the negative creeping back. But the wonderful thing about this type of resolution is that even when I falter or slip a little, I can easily pick it back up again and go forward. All it takes is pausing for a moment to look around me and recognize the simple, pure pleasures and blessings in each day.