Initially, this week’s post was going to continue on the theme of what to take with you on a bicycle tour with the focus on clothing. However, I wanted to write about something else. Over the last two weeks, I have thought a lot about how important it is to remember to be grateful and enjoy the present moment.
I wrote a special newsletter about the news from Deborah James, aka Bowelbabe, and I wanted to expand on that. She has been such an example of how to enjoy every moment in life. How to focus on creating wonderful memories and being grateful for what we have rather than what we haven’t.
I remember when I got diagnosed, I suddenly experienced everything more strongly. The green of the leaves was more vibrant, the flowers smelled sweeter, the food tasted better, and time with family and friends was even more precious.
It was the thought of losing it all that made me focus more on the present moment and enjoy it to the fullest. I learnt to be more grateful for everything I had.
It is so easy in life to focus on what we don’t have or what we don’t get. How we don’t have spare money to go on a holiday this year, while our friends are sharing holiday snaps on Instagram. Or how we didn’t get that promotion, which we deserved so much more than Steve or Lucy. But focusing on the negative can make us ungrateful, bitter, and jealous. You know, the whole thing about grass being greener on the other side.
Well, it so often isn’t. And the reason it isn’t, is because we then want something more and more. We need to learn to be satisfied and grateful for what we have.
That doesn’t mean that we cannot strive to be more successful or live in a nicer home, drive a better car or have more holidays. Of course we can.
But what it means is that until we learn to be grateful for all the great things we already have in life, we will never be satisfied.
I’ve had a habit of saying a prayer every night since I was a little kid where I said thanks for the good things in my life. I still do that, but since the cancer diagnosis, I have been more mindful about the way I practice gratitude. And it has made me realise how often, especially before the diagnosis, I lacked gratitude.
I want you to be honest with yourself here. Think about how many times in a day you express ungrateful thoughts. Seriously, for most of us, it is a lot.
Think about how often we say we have nothing to wear, yet we have a wardrobe full of clothes. Or we complain about the toast being burnt, the commute to work or the price of petrol.
We forget we should be grateful we have toast to burn. We have a job and a car and there is petrol readily available. We forget about those who don’t know when or where from their next meal will come, all the people who are unemployed or the horrific events behind the high petrol prices. We forget that having a roof over our heads, three meals a day and fresh water on the tap already makes us better off than millions of people around the world.
How many of us can really complain about our lives?
Most of us in the western world have so much we can be grateful for. We have the freedom to express our thoughts. We have access to great education and health care. We can marry who we want or not marry at all. We can express our sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. I could go on and on, but I know you all get the idea.
When I catch myself about to complain about something, usually trivial, I remind myself how different life could have been for me. I remind myself of how many things are good and right in my life. I remind myself of how lucky I am to live where I live and to have all the privileges that come with living in a safe, stable country. And I remind myself that I am still here when so many are not.
It becomes easier to enjoy the present moment when we practise an attitude of gratitude. By focusing on the positive, I find it easier not to think about the past or worry about the future.
Do I still think about the past? Sometimes. Do I still worry about the future? Again, sometimes.
But the more I stay focused on the present moment, the less my thoughts drift to past events I cannot change or worry about future events I cannot predict. The more I focus on what I have rather than don’t have the happier I am.
Life isn’t about what we haven’t got. It is about being grateful for what we have. About enjoying the present moment and appreciating being alive. It is about taking a breath and seeing the beauty in the little details. And it is about spending time with loved ones and creating wonderful memories.
I want to leave you with a little challenge today.
Try to catch yourself in the act of thinking negative thoughts. And when you do, turn it around. Make it about something you can be grateful for. Then notice how you feel when rather than complaining, you express gratitude.
Let me know in the comments something you are grateful for at this moment of time.
Until next time, and as always, thank you for being here.