Every night, before she goes to sleep, my daughter always counts her blessings. She'll lie in the darkened comfort of her room and say aloud all the things that she is grateful for. I listen over the monitor to her soft, sweet voice whispering over and over again "mama, daddy, baby, happy. mama, daddy, baby, happy...book, duck, ba-ba, moo, ball, meow, yucky, yummy..."
Ok, so maybe I'm projecting a bit. I mean she is only a year and a half, and she's most likely just practicing her words, lulling herself to sleep with the comfort and awe of knowing she can make sounds that actually mean something. But what are those first words if not a representation of the things that matter the most to us? When babies first start speaking, it's normally always some version of "mama" or "daddy," because that is our whole world. As that world grows, so does our vocabulary. We start learning the words for things that interest us the most or things we see everyday. We learn how to communicate the things we need and the things we want. And what are those if not the things we are the most grateful for?
There's been this recent trend I've noticed on social media - gratitude challenges. 100 Days of Happiness, 30 Days of Gratitude, etc, where we post a picture a day, or make a list of the things that make us the most happy. I love this practice not only because locking ourselves into a daily commitment to pause and see the opportunities for gratitude, (both the obvious and the unassuming), bring a lightness and joy to our own lives, but doing it via Facebook and Instagram allows us to share that light and joy with others. When I see friends' postings, it instantly lifts my heart, and inevitably, something I am grateful for in my own life comes to mind, and I smile.
When so much of what we read and see lately in the world brings such a darkness and sense of utter helplessness, it's these little moments of joy that bring me comfort. Because I realize that while I might not be able to fix the world's problems, I can fight the darkness in my own life by consciously basking in the light. And that lightness can come with every breath, if we only open our eyes to see it. Because though we may not get the chance to witness a spectacular sunset every day for 100 days (wouldn't that be amazing?) or have the time to catch up with an old friend over tea every afternoon for a month, we can find these moments in the subtle, perhaps even in the seemingly mundane...a long hot bath, a bowl of fresh cherries, taking a long deep breath.
So start your day with the wise words of Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, and always count your blessings. Because let's face it, we should all be grateful for great books, delicious things and warm milk.
yoga teacher, filmmaker, wife, mother and citizen of the world. this is my journey into radical gratitude and living each moment in pure joy.