My Body As Seen Through the Lens of Gratitude
Now that I have decided to live my life in the moment, I have found that being grateful helps a lot. It lifts my spirits and helps quiet negative thoughts. One thing that I have been negative about a lot lately is my body. I often focus on the things I’d like to change like my round belly, fat thighs, and flabby arms. Focusing only on what my body looks like, I rarely ever considered all the things that make my body great. Today, I’ve decided to do just that, and it made all the difference. Here are just a few of the thoughts that shed light on my day.
I am grateful for my ability to see. Today, I could see the lush green trees and bushes all around, and the brilliant colors that make up spring. Riding on the train, I could see the beautiful mountains with their shades of green–dark forest green, bright spring green and blue-green with pockets of grey rock peeking through. I could see the shiny brown tiled roofs of the traditional Japanese houses, and the rice fields that were still a rich brown. I could see my daughter talking with her new found friends, a mother and her two children. The mother’s eyes lit up as my daughter engaged her attention with confidence and enthusiasm. When I made eye contact with the mother, we both smiled in appreciation at the moment made possible by my daughter’s outgoing personality.
At my daughter’s play group holding my son in my arms, I was grateful that I had the strength to hold my baby. That my muscles work to move my body in the direction I will it. I am grateful that I can grip a pen and fill in paperwork to enroll my daughter into an academic support group for children with non-Japanese parents. I am grateful that I have ears to hear, and my inner ear that so adeptly keeps me balanced. I am grateful for my brain and its ability to process information, especially my second language, Japanese, which allowed me to communicate effectively with everyone with whom I came into contact.
When we made our way to the city to go shopping; me pushing my son’s stroller and my daughter following close behind, I was grateful for my ability to walk, and how effortlessly the muscles in my arms, back, legs, and feet worked to propel my body forward. I didn’t have to think about it; it just happened. As the shopping bags piled up and got heavier, I was grateful for my ability to carry the bags, and for the strength it took to do so.
On my way home, walking in the rain, loaded down with shopping bags, balancing the weight on the back of the stroller, making sure my daughter paid attention as we wound our way through cars in the parking lot, and beside busy city streets on the side walk, I started to feel really annoyed. So shifting my focus, I verbally expressed my appreciation for my skin and my ability to feel the weight of the bags on my arms, and the wet of the rain falling gently on my face. I was grateful for my ability to feel the soft delicate petals of the azaleas that lined the side walk. Stopping to see if they had a scent, I was thankful for my sense of smell. Immersed in all that there was to see, hear, smell, and touch, I forgot my irritation and felt light on my feet a smile in my heart and on my face.
At home, putting away groceries, and chatting with my husband, I was grateful for my ability to see, smell, and taste the delicious curry we had for dinner. I savored each bite and felt gratitude for my ability to do so. At dinner, we took turns expressing our gratitude for each other, and the people in our lives–the start of new family tradition.
Looking back at my day, I realize that I didn’t have many negative thoughts. In fact, I spent most of the day observing my environment and taking stock of all that I loved and appreciated. I felt more positive about myself, my life, and the people and things in my life. I was less aware of what I was lacking, and more aware of what I had, and that was a lot when I took the time to consider it.
I am beginning to understand that people who love themselves must live a life full of gratitude. Happiness is effortless when you focus on what you have and all the things of which you are capable. I have discovered my key to feeling happy most of the time, and that is gratitude.
I have spent too much of my time worried about the what ifs, and lost in the should haves and would haves. I’ve been chasing the idea of happiness, always putting it in the future, always making it something to attain, but I learned today that happiness isn’t a goal, it’s a state of mind, and it is as easy as shifting my focus to live a fulfilling and happy life now. It has always been at my fingertips, I had only to be aware of my fingertips, and my ability to feel, and my ability to harness the power of my mind.
In retrospect, it seems so simple and so obvious. It was something I had learned as a child but had forgotten as an adult. The refrain in the hymn “Count Your Blessings” by John Oatman, Jr. is how in my youth, I learned the beauty of being thankful.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”
Although I am no longer Christian, I feel that this hymn rings with truth. When we count our blessings, and when we focus on appreciation, doubt, fear, and pain have less of an impact. It is not a form of escapism, but rather it is a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive. It allows us to zoom out and see the bigger picture. Even when we are facing dire circumstances, we can find comfort in the knowledge of what we have and most importantly that we have the ability to change our perspective of any situation. It gives us access to the truth about life, and that is, that life with all its ups and downs is beautiful. I will always remember that.
What are you thankful for? I hope you will take the time to share what you appreciate and what makes you happy in a comment below.