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Gratitude: The Green Shoot Inside Our Greenhouse

Published November 27th, 2014

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It is that time of year.

You know, the time of year when we are sick and coughing and want to stay in bed, but have to get up anyway to pack the kids lunches, do some laundry, and answer those pressing emails, until we crawl back into our cave, muscles aching, head throbbing for a few more moments of rest. It is THAT time of year.

It is easy to feel sorry for myself. I have many opportunities each day. Every day, something breaks down, or someone gets sick, or something doesn’t work out the way I wish it would. There isn’t enough time or money to do the exact thing I want. I believe it is human nature and it is also modern society, and I find it easy to focus on the negative.

But you know, when I catch myself surrounded only by negative thoughts, that is exactly when I have to step out of that story and refocus on another. That is when it is time to focus on gratitude. No matter how many things are going wrong, there are likely just as many things going right.

8328050229_e77350c6aa_oGratitude is a skill I have been able to practice through Wild Earth, a constant attention to what is positive, what we appreciate, and ultimately, what we are grateful for. Gratitude is a skill that is learned. At Wild Earth, we start off each meeting and each gathering with gratitude, each of saying out loud something we are grateful for. It is a way of carving out a space for that appreciation, within the meeting, and within ourselves. It works even for those of us for whom gratitude doesn’t always come easily.

Practicing gratitude is a way of giving space and attention that will allow the gratitude to grow. It is like creating a greenhouse for our tender green shoots of gratitude. Practice gratitude, taking that moment to remember what we are grateful for, and our gratitude will flourish. That practice is attention (it is like sun and water). And just like the green shoot inside our greenhouse, our gratitude will wither with neglect, and certainly whither if stomped on or poisoned. All that focus on what is not going well, it eats up the oxygen and is the pollution to our fragile gratitude.

So THAT is really what time of year it is. A time to push aside any focus on what isn’t going the way we want, maybe even what is truly going wrong or bad, at least for a moment, and, instead focus on what we HAVE.

Despite the coughing and fever and desire to hide away, I am grateful that I have a job that is flexible enough to allow me a sick day. I am grateful that I have health care that will allow me some medicine to get me through this. I am grateful for my cozy pillow and blankets.

I am grateful that I have friends who check in and bring me groceries.

I am grateful that my kids are old enough to now bring me a glass of water and ask me how I am and even get themselves off too bed without too much effort from a sick Mama. I am grateful I have beautiful healthy children.

I am grateful my husband brings home my favorite soups and is supportive when I am sick and when I am healthy. I am grateful for my family and grateful that we can love and laugh together, even if it makes us cough.

I am grateful, too, for this big crazy beautiful world. And that it is snowing so beautifully today. And that the snow makes things so white. And so quiet.

And I am grateful to Wild Earth. For helping me remember that the sun will come up each day. And that the seasons will turn each year. And that we each have a place in this huge system.

And I am grateful to Wild Earth for reminding me to be grateful.

And THAT is what time of year it is. A time to be grateful. A time to share our gratitude. A time to feel our gratitude. Let’s celebrate and give thanks.

And then, let’s be grateful not just at this time of year, but let’s make it Thanksgiving every day.

This is the third post in our “Thanksgiving Thursday” series. Check out the other posts, Why I’m Grateful, What are you thankful for?, It Helps Grease The Wheels and Gratitude: The Doorway to Abundance.

Abby SubakAbby SubakAbby Subak, Wild Earth Board Member

Abby grew up in Western Pennsylvania, a landscape that taught her the value of wilderness and natural beauty, and also gave her an awareness that we humans are not always very good stewards of that beauty. After starting her career with environmental advocacy and activism in California, she expanded to working with a variety of non-profit organizations focused on the environment, education, equality, dialogue, and the arts. She has worked as a grassroots organizer, a program manager, a fundraiser, a recruiter, a grant-writer, and a director. With Wild Earth, she has found a way for her whole family to nurture their connection to nature, to people, and to community. She wants to share that opportunity with others. Abby lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children and spends weekends and summers in Ulster County. More about Abby's work.

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