Thursday, February 18, 2016

Practice the Discipline of Gratitude

As a kid I had incredible teachers when it came to the theme of thankfulness.  One of my favorite stories of my mother is that of Christmastime.  It was never about presents in my family; it was about thankfulness.

Be thankful for your family.
Be thankful for your pets.
Be thankful for Christmas trees even if we don't yet understand why your eyes close shut when we bring a real one into the house.
Be thankful for your faith.
Be thankful for the oranges and apples in your stocking.
Be thankful for the large coffee table to sit around with your cousins because it won't always be there.

But the best one (and least sentimental) was to be thankful for any gift you receive no matter how repulsively horrible and sometimes even offensive it may be.

Sitting around said coffee table from above wearing velvet pants, patent leather shoes, a Peter Pan collared shirt, and satin ribbons in my hair surrounded by my 7 cousins (there are 11 of us now, but for this memory I was still only 1 of 8), each gift was passed out by Santa Pappaw one at a time.  When my turn came, I instinctively looked over at my mother with wide eyes as I watched her nod her head and mouth, "we'll take it back."  This came from the traditional conversation we had before birthday parties or family Christmas gift exchanges.

"I wish presents weren't a thing.  They make me so nervous," I would say to her as she pulled the sponge rollers out of my hair.
"They shouldn't make you nervous, Joy, they're just a way for people to show you they were thinking of you!"
"But what if I don't like what they bought me?  They wasted their money!"
"You just smile really big and say thank you.  Then we can take it back and they'll never know if that makes you feel better," she would tell me.  The mouthing of "we'll take it back" was simply a reminder that it's not about the gift, it's about the thankfulness I should have.

I've recently been re-introduced to the discipline of practicing gratitude.  Mornings are taking longer than they used to, so I'm taking some of that time to recount what all I'm grateful for.  Coincidentally I've recently encountered 2 specific instances of gratitude.  Put the thought out there, and you'll receive it back from areas that mean the most to your soul.

The first one is Hillary Clinton.  She's been my hero since the 2nd grade.  As an Arkansan, she was my First Lady (my FLOAR, if you will), and I loved that her inauguration dress on display at the Old State House with all of the other First Ladies' was so simple, yet beautiful.  She didn't spend all her time on adding the flourishes that other Arkansans had come to expect from a First Lady hosting sweet tea parties and whatnot, and I wanted to make a difference like she did.  In her Town Hall from a couple of weeks ago, she let her talking points drop for a minute and spoke about gratitude.

"Be grateful for your limitations..."

The next one is out of the brilliant minds of Jesus Clown Productions based in NYC at Mark Fisher Fitness.  The 4 people in the video are among the most inspiring to me in my journey to find enlightenment, simplicity, and gratitude.  They did an outdoor 20-minute meditation on the coldest day NYC has seen in 150 years.  At the end of the 20 minutes, they shout out what they are grateful for.  I was in tears -- the beautiful simplicity of it rendered me a raw puddle.

"I'm grateful for friends"
"I'm grateful for shoes"
"I'm grateful for meditation"
"I'm grateful for BUHLEE!"

And I am grateful for all of you.  Anyone reading this, whether I know you or not.  I am grateful for you.


  1. I am grateful you are blogging again! Love you!

  2. Joy Bell......this made me tear up. Oh the memories around that coffee table on Christmas Mornings. "San-Duck Claus"...simply the BEST!!!

    Love you and I am so glad that you have begun blogging again!