In The Face of Tragedy, It Helps to Be Grateful.

 
Less than two weeks ago we experienced another school shooting. In the aftermath of yet another senseless tragedy I found myself feeling what probably most of you feel – scared. More than scared, damn near terrified. No doubt I am not alone in experiencing the tightening anxiety in my chest as I drop my child off at school, holding my breath until I pick him up at which point I can breathe a sigh of relief only until the next day of school rises with the sun.

We can’t escape the dangers of what society has become. We just can’t. Unless you’re willing to become chained to your own home, you will have to embark back into the world and face the risk of god knows what.  This can be scary, if you allow it to be. I know I can’t or won’t allow myself to avoid all potential threats in the pursuit of perceived safety. And I don’t want to walk around life with anxiety gripping me by the neck. I can’t prevent these disasters fully so I decided I need to approach my mindset in another way – with Gratitude.

I find it quite unfortunate that it takes incidents like this to awaken ourselves to the gifts we have been granted in our daily lives. The most basic gift of all – life. I know I am fully guilty of overlooking and dismissing the fact that merely being alive is something to be grateful for every day. As we have been shown all to often in our current culture, life can been taken away when you least expect it.

I wanted to do a little experiment with myself in light of this need to become aware and grateful by practicing mindful gratitude every day for one week. It was my intention to journal this experience each day but life got in the way and the journal did not make. I did however practice this grateful awareness enough to realize how much I struggle with it and how easily I fall back into patterns of grumbling.

On day one I did notice a rise in my mood as I approached the day thanking the universe for my children, their health, and their safety. This heightened attitude carried with me throughout most of the morning, but somewhere around naptime my gratitude seemed to wane as the bedtime protests commenced. I was able to borrow my own mommy advice and “turn my attitude around” by recognizing that though I am not always thrilled by the events of the day I am most certainly grateful that I have these little people in my life to drive me crazy.

Towards the end of the week my gratitude agenda became more and more distant as I got caught back up in the busyness and business of the day, I found myself easily forgetting (again) the fragility of life and focusing instead on the list of lack I so quickly compile. What this showed me is that it takes reminders, daily reminders to myself to not take any single day for granted. More importantly even, not to take anyone for granted. 

Perspective is important. It shouldn’t take tragedy to open our eyes to the gifts given by being alive. Not to say that there aren’t hard days, trying days, challenging days, but as I’ve heard it said before – there is no such thing as a bad day. Each day alive is a day to be grateful for. So, let’s all be grateful. Maybe if there were more of this attitude of gratitude amongst us all, we could turn this world around. We can certainly try.

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