We hear the phrase “Gratitude is an attitude “ so often now it’s verging on cliché. Isn’t that in itself something to be grateful for? I more than many have witnessed the power of being grateful on changing your mindset.
I suffered with depression and anxiety for years. Strangely enough I only began to be grateful when I found myself homeless after a failed suicide attempt (Yes. I’m incredibly GRATEFUL that I failed). I wasn’t street homeless. I was placed in a shelter with dozens of people battling their own demons. I realised quickly I was grateful that I was “just depressed”; that I wasn’t a drug addict or alcoholic. That the modicum of self love and respect I had protected me from becoming a sex worker.
I had emigrated to Thailand expecting to live happily ever after in the ‘Land of Smiles’. Things hadn’t worked out as I’d dreamed and less than a year later I found myself severely depressed, out of work, with no money after the headmistress I worked for entered my house and stole everything I owned while I was in a psychiatric unit.
I managed to get back to London by lining up an au pair job with a family who paid my return flight. It was an awful job and it was this that eventually led to my suicide attempt. So, after eighteen months or so of what felt like non stop hardship and struggle; of endless work, responsibilities and obligations suddenly I found myself released from this. I’d been given a “time out” from adulting by the Universe.
Yes I was alone, still depressed and often hungry but nobody expected a single thing from me. I remember the day I started to feel grateful. It was a rare good day; walking along the canal in brilliant sunlight aware of dozens of people rushing to and from work all with the weight of their lives upon them like a heavy coat. I suddenly was very aware that although they all seemed to “have everything” that I wouldn’t change places with any of them.
If I wanted to walk along the canal all day and read a book I could. If I couldn’t find the strength the get up, to shower, to be a person, I wasn’t letting anybody down. Nobody was relying on me. I literally didn’t have a single obligation. Think about that for a minute? How grateful would you be right now to feel that?
My life has changed immensely since then. I’m now a Theta Healing practitioner and a life coach. I have so many things to be grateful for I could keep writing and never stop. I started a gratitude journal but actually found it didn’t really resonate for me. I may be a writer but I’m also dyslexic and I’m a very visual person. I like to write down the things I’m grateful for on brightly coloured hearts which I stick everywhere so I can literally see how much I have to be grateful for.
When I have clients tell me they can’t think of anything to be grateful for I ask them why. When they tell me things like “I don’t like my job” or “I broke my leg” I remind them of how many people don’t have a job. Or that they are able to see, hear and speak as they’re telling me what is wrong. That a million or so people didn’t wake up today; that a million or so people lost a loved one today.
One of the most valuable things being penniless and homeless taught me was that it’s the very things we so take for granted we’re not even aware of them that we need to be most grateful for. These are the things we miss most. Next time you get home from work late in a bad mood and and flop on the sofa with a cup of coffee and a sandwich to watch TV and go over what a miserable day you’ve had, consider this. Imagine that bad day. Now imagine NOT having a home to go to. Not having a sofa to sit on. Not having access to a kitchen or food. Not being able to take a shower or use the bathroom when you need to.
I’ve always been the biggest fan of Christmas. I’ve already lost count of how many Christmas movies I’ve watched. I’m so grateful for the Hallmark Channel. This year I moved from the UK to Istanbul. Christmas isn’t celebrated here. There was a time this would have broken my heart. Now I choose to be grateful that I’ll still be easily able to visit friends. To start my Christmas Day with a Gingerbread Latte. In the UK nothing opens. There is no transport. Thanks to technology and Skype I’ll be able to chat to anyone I wish to and share their magical moments with them. Most of all I’ll be grateful that I took the opportunity to leave the county I was born and raised in which never really felt like “home” and that I ended up in a magical country that makes my soul sing.
Happy Christmas. May the season bring you endless opportunities to be kind, to share joy and to be grateful.