291 days of not yelling, 74 days of loving more to go!
Not gonna lie. I am thrilled that you hardly, if ever, are on the internet. As such, I can “safely” share this blog post without you saying “I told you so!”
(Disclaimer: As far as mother-in-law’s go, I am pretty gosh darn lucky. I am actually grateful that mine is mine. Even if she annoys me sometimes, read on!)
It’s that time of year. A time to give thanks, a time to count or bountiful blessings, a time to eat up all the beautiful moments that family can bring. But for my ever-optimistic mother-in-law, it isn’t a time of year, it’s a way of living. She still writes hand written thank you cards even for simple thinks like having us for Thanksgiving Dinner, taking the time to call, sharing a story about the boys. She says thank you to anyone and everyone who she shares an exchange with during the day and she finds a way to be grateful and say something positive even when times are really bad, like right now when the love her life is failing way too quickly to Alzheimers.
And as much as admire her positive outlook, I must admit, sometimes it does feel a bit much. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed (jealous?) by her ability to not just find gratitude, but to feel it and share it with everyone. Okay and well sometimes, sometimes I feel just really annoyed by it.
To be clear, it’s not that I am anti-gratitude or an outright unthankful b*tch, I just am not over-the-top-lets-be-grateful-every-second-of-the-day like my mother-in-law. I most definitely say thank you when appropriate, expected, needed or truly heart felt (like whenever you comment and I say thank you for reading!) And while I most definitely think grateful thoughts, like wow, I’m grateful the boys aren’t pummeling each other right now, or wow, I’m grateful my husband helps around the house, I don’t actively share those thoughts. Yes, I do embrace the importance of gratitude but sometimes I just want to say to my mother-in-law, “enough already with the gratitude! Can’t you say something that bothers you?”
I think I actually said that to her once. Or twice. And every time my ever so chipper, perfectly perfect and proper mother-in-law, said to me,
“Now Orange Rhino, you do know that practicing gratitude is one of the many keys to happiness don’t you? That otherwise you focus on the negatives and that just brings you down?”
“Well good. Have you been writing in your Gratitude Journal? You know, you really should give it a try.”
And by that she means the one she gave me within weeks of meeting for the first time, the one she gave me each Christmas, each Birthday, each opportunity. Yes, my darling mother-in-law has been pushing Gratitude journals on me since the first moment she could. At first I was touched. How sweet, she likes me enough to give me a gift. And then how sweet, she wants to share with me something personal in her life that works. Then it was, enough already do I seem THAT unhappy? And recently, when she finally stopped giving them to me it was DARNIT, where is the Gratitude Journal when I need one?
Because guess what. MY MOTHER-IN-LAW was right. Practicing gratitude and sharing those thoughts whether via a journal a blog or out loud does make me happier which in turn get this, KEEPS me from yelling. The whole practicing gratitude isn’t just the corny hogwash that I thought it was! When I talk about the positives in my life it keeps me focused on the good things, the happy moments which helps me feel lighter and obviously, happier. And a happy mommy = a less apt to yell mommy.
This became evidently clear during the great power outage of 2012, also known as Hurricane Sandy. Every moment I felt stressed or angry or annoyed I found myself saying “wow, it could be WORSE. I could have lost more than power, I could have lost my home. I am so lucky. I am so grateful our house is unharmed.” And that sense of gratitude helped me stay calm and get through the day. And then when I saw power trucks coming to New Jersey from all over, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Indiana, Mississippi – my eyes filled with tears from gratitude and that kept me grounded and focusing on hope and that it would get better. And that got me through the day without being crotchety, without yelling.
I had always heard that gratitude was a powerful emotion from sources beyond my mother-in-law. I think I even recently read somewhere that it is scientifically proven to make people happier. I guess I didn’t realize just HOW powerful an emotion and a “non-yelling tool” it was until now. And hey, while I wish I had listened to my mother-in-law earlier, I am grateful that I at least learned the lesson now. Now is way better than never. I don’t expect to practice gratitude on the level of my mother-in-law, I just hope to practice it more. I just hope to share my thankful thoughts out loud more. And right now is as good as any time to practice
I am grateful for all 600 of you who read this blog and follow my challenge on Facebook. Your support keeps me going. Honestly. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving! And to my non U.S. followers, Happy giving-me-reason-to-say-thanks!