How great is it that we have a non-political, non-religious holiday focused on gratitude? And that we are free to celebrate it as we choose. Just the day is a lot to be thankful for!
My personal list would fill the page and overflow, so I looked back for something in my past that most influenced my overall happiness - what might have been the first thing? Certainly most of us are grateful for where, and to whom, we were born. Most of us enjoyed a good education, a safe environment for growing up, some good friends who enriched our lives. We are all the product of our pasts, and if we are happy today most likely it is because of gifts or challenges, or probably both, we were given over the years. But was there one thing, one event, one person, one value, one lesson - that most contributed to my living this happy/grateful life?
It's funny how the mind and heart work. I was truly thinking in an analytical way, just to see where my memory would go. Yet my emotions were not having it! My mind would settle on one thing, and my heart would be all "But what about ______ ? You'll hurt their feelings, dishonor their memory, etc, etc, if you don't "pick" them." Geez heart, it's not a competition! The mind also has its interfering moments known as "the reality check". You know, those things you really want to remember going a certain way, but you have to admit they didn't :-( Since I'm an only child I need an internal reality-checker. I know that those with siblings (like my sons) have their reality checked on a regular basis!
So with mind and heart making a simple stroll down memory lane into a much more complicated expedition with maps and a sound track, I did eventually settle on something that felt (the heart usually wins) right.
Not surprising given that I went back as far as possible, it is something from my mother. I believe I am so happy today because I am responsible for that happiness. I don't get to assign blame to any one or any thing else. Ultimately I am responsible for choosing a path, an action, a response, a person to be in my life. My earliest memories include my mother saying "I'm telling you that if you pick up the cat she will scratch you. If you get scratched, you don't get to be mad at the cat."
Every time I would say something like "He/she/they/it makes me feel so ______ !", Mom would correct me. It always came back to me. She didn't discount the hurtfulness of words and deeds, but she instead focused on my response to them. Did I want to keep that person or thing in my life when they were the source of pain, or did I want to remove them? It was my choice and therefore I was responsible for the results. Of course I usually chose the pain, and blamed the other party, and ignored my mother's sage advice.
But the lesson was still there, repeated by my mother, and building some momentum in the back of my mind. I was probably in my late 20's before I really gave it a serious try. Damn if Mom wasn't right! The more I took responsibility, the more I made conscious choices for my own happiness, the less I gave others the power over my well-being - the happier I was. I didn't "give it up" to a higher power, I didn't get to blame it on a demon. I had to live with the decisions I made about me.
Today I don't watch the news, I accept that others don't share my opinions and beliefs, I scroll past those Facebook posts I know I won't agree with, I don't take someone else's bad day personally, I believe that most people are good, I expect my dreams to come true, I know the consequences of being unkind and dishonest are of my own making.
I don't always get it right. I fall off the no-blame wagon. I get depressed and angry over the actions of others. I become fearful over the "what ifs". I openly question the sanity of Raiders' fans.....
Still, I come back to what my mother gave me all those years ago, and am a blessed and happy person. I am a grateful person.
It was a good exercise for me to look back at what most influenced my happy/grateful life.
You know what you're grateful for - but do you know why?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Lovely, thoughtful post Jodee. Living in Gratitude is something I am trying very hard to do on a daily basis.ReplyDelete
Most of all I am currently grateful for being able to live this mobile lifestyle at a younger age than I ever expected...and that is directly possible thanks to my husbands conscientious ways with money for decades before retirement.
Thank you Lisa. I think if I could go back and change one thing I would live more frugally - lucky you that Hans made it happen for the two of you :-) Happy Thanksgiving.Delete
Great post Jodee, again you have a way with words. Often I remind myself to be grateful just for one more day/hour of life as I know far to many family,friends and coworkers who didn't make it to my age.ReplyDelete
So true Maura, life itself is a great source of gratitude - every breath :-) Happy ThanksgivingDelete
Such a wonderful thoughtful post Jodee. You've taken us all beyond gratitude to the source in our own lives. Like nearly everything else, I think I'm grateful because I choose to be. So astute of you to point out that this is a non-political, non-religious and actually non-Hallmark Holiday (unlike Valentines etc). I do wish it were further away from Christmas though so it could have a major focus rather than a hurried flash before the "real holiday". Like so many other things, I think the Canadians have this one right too. A harvest festival of Thanksgiving should be in October. or even September. Why not Fall Equinox? Then the retailers can have all of November AND most of December to themselves. Now that doesn't sound very grateful does it?ReplyDelete
It is ironic that we spend one day of thanks for what we have and then the next month focused on getting so much more. Maybe we need that "speed bump" just before the big push to make us pause and re-focus even a tiny bit :-) One need not sound grateful to carry it in their heart - I believe you are very grateful for your connection to the seasons. Happy ThanksgivingDelete
This is a beautiful post, Jodee. In the spirit of your heartfelt writing, I'd like to say that I'm grateful to have found your blog. Like you, I discovered early in life that my happiness is up to me -- knowing that I can choose my attitude and my actions has been incredibly freeing. I certainly have times of feeling "stuck" but I also know that getting unstuck is up to me. I'm grateful for that understanding, and I'm grateful for this incredible life journey, both on and off the road!ReplyDelete
That's wonderful Laura, thank you for sharing that, and for your kind words. Happy ThanksgivingDelete
Nice post. I think we all have lots to be thankful for.ReplyDelete
Indeed, we certainly do :-) Happy ThanksgivingDelete
Thank you, Jodee, for offering such a thought provoking posting. It makes me really look a little a deeper within:) I am truly blessed to be able to live this life with a wonderful man enjoying our beautiful country every day.ReplyDelete
I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving:)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! You and John both always express that joy so well :-) Happy ThanksgivingDelete
Beautiful post Jodee! I too try to be an optimistic person and frequently I fail but life is so much better if you think "glass is half full!!" What breed is your "fluffy dog?" He looks exactly like Shine, the labradoodle belonging to our friends Geoff and Nancy.ReplyDelete
I find it to be the best default, even when I have to work at it :-) We thought Tessa was a labradoodle, but our vet and a couple breeders are convinced she's a Wheaten Terrier. Best dog we've ever had, especially for our upcoming adventuresDelete
This is an amazing and insightful post, Jodee. I'm glad I looked back and found it. Diana and I look forward to following your blog!ReplyDelete
Thanks Jim! I'm sorry I didn't get notice of your comment and just happened upon it while looking back for something else...... Wonderful to have you and Diana along for the "ride"!! Hope you enjoyed your New Year!Delete