“This is going to change me.”
It’s what we say and think and hope when faced with tragedy. And we say it with the best intentions, but oftentimes, life happens. Things go back to normal—or a new normal. We move on.
Then, out of nowhere, the cycle begins again. There’s another accident. Another mass shooting. Another loved one’s passing. And we’re faced with the reality yet again: Life is fleeting, and if we’re not careful, we’ll be left with a heart full of regret.
My Grandpa passed away before I was old enough to remember him, though I cherish the memories I have of him through the stories I’ve been told. So then, when my Granny passed away a week before my 23rd birthday, it was devastating. Not that she hadn’t lived a full, beautiful life. I simply had never experienced the pain of true loss.
That’s when it hit me.
The questions rushed over me like a tidal wave. Had I called her often enough? Did she really know that I loved her? Had I made enough memories with her? Did I spend enough time just sitting with her? Had I set my selfish desires aside to bring her joy, especially when my immaturity caused me to believe that there were better ways to spend my time than listening to her stories or working on a puzzle together?
I hated that I was questioning myself and how good of a granddaughter I was, but subconsciously, the thoughts lingered. So it was then that I vowed to be better, to love better. At twenty-three years old, I decided that it was time to change the way I lived my life. And there was a clear catalyst to that calculated decision: tragedy.
Now I’m not dogging on myself—or anyone, for that matter—for attempting to live life to its fullest following devastation. If anything good and beautiful can come out of those things that bring us the most pain, I think that’s absolutely incredible. All I’m saying is, why wait to live a life of gratitude?
Why must it take pain for us to find joy? Why must it take loss for us to gain? And why must it take selfishness for us to achieve gratefulness? I would argue that it doesn’t. And I would encourage you to start living life like you’ve lost before you have.
Don’t wait until tragedy strikes to begin soaking up the beauty of the most mundane moments, or even the moments that bring you the greatest frustration. You know that sense of wonder that children have about absolutely everything? Have that. Find that sense of wonder deep within your soul—it’s there, I promise.
Attitude of Gratitude
When you look in the mirror and see those dimples (and I’m not talking about the cute ones when you smile), be thankful that you have those gorgeous legs that allow you to walk and run and jump. When you must navigate around those annoying piles of laundry strewn across the bedroom floor, be thankful that your family’s closets are filled to the brim. And when that lamp that once graced your end table is in pieces on the floor, be thankful for the precious, tiny human that you get to love and shape and mold.
So this is where I dare you to make a change. I know it’s a big one, and I know it will take time. And you’ll undoubtedly fail at it daily, but just give it a shot. Shift your focus, stop taking the things in your life for granted, give thanks in all things, and raise your children to do the same.
Let’s live in a way that compels our children to treat the food they eat, clothes they wear, beds they sleep in, and health-filled bodies they live in as nothing short of extravagant gifts.
We all know how to give thanks when it’s easy, but let’s be people that live lives full of gratitude even when it’s most difficult. Don’t wait for a catastrophe to say, “This is going to change me.” Let’s strive to be better now. Stronger now. Happier now. Grateful now.