The Gratitude Report

“We never taste a perfect joy; our happiest successes are mixed with sadness.” - Pierre Corneille

Our days are filled with simple joys, tedious acts, and heart-wrenching grief. We stumble through attempting to just keep our heads up, even as we gasp for breath. We can choose to look at each day with dread or with gratitude. It is our choice. Do we step on the sidewalk cracks or jump over them?

My dear friend Peg is probably the most joyous and optimistic person I know. She floats through life with her smile. A fairy sprite, she waves her wand and sparkles shoot from the end. She is filled with love and purpose. Her joy, though, has been a journey. A few years ago after some struggles that caused worry and tension, she decided to look at each day with gratitude. Her life hasn’t been easy, but instead of waking up each day in grayness, she decided to open her eyes with a different perspective. She wrote a short book titled The Gratitude Report that chronicled her thirty day journey of discovering thankfulness. She also keeps up with a daily one minute of gratitude blog that recognizes the odysseys of others. Peg has written about Pope Frances, Malala, President Jimmy Carter, and her mother Francy. Her writing focuses on what we can do in this world to make it better, whether it is on a grand scale or simple every day gestures. 

Helen Keller once wrote, “We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” Gratitude often stems from grief we have encountered. Happy people aren’t happy because they know no pain. Happy people choose to acknowledge the sadness for what is, but instead of wallowing in the misery, they choose to embrace and learn from it.

There have been times in my life when the grief was so deep I never thought I would be able to wade through it. I woke up every morning with a burning sensation in my soul. I wandered through the days with cement shoes and and a leaky umbrella that let in all the tears. Where was the light? Where was the joy? Slowly, though, hope dried up those tears. I opened the door and saw glimpses of the sun. I was grateful for my breath, for my life, for the day.

Yesterday I decided to live a day of simple joys. I ate breakfast at my favorite joint. I baked an apple pie for a friend and a double batch of chocolate chip cookies for my mothers’ group. I practiced yoga at home to my iTunes playlist and even danced a little in my warrior sequences. Life can be full of simple gifts; the struggle and pain teach us to be grateful. 

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out joy.” - Jim Rohn