On Gratitude

This morning I woke up relatively early, and it being Sunday I decided that the best way to spend the start of my day was away from any phones or laptops. This allowed me to have a good long read of the latest issue of Darling magazine, which arrived a week or so ago now but I’d yet to flick through properly. One of the main themes that came across whilst I was reading was that of gratitude and appreciation – there even being a whole article dedicated to the topic (A World Framed by Gratitude by Ashley Abercrombie). This took me back to the last time I thought in depth about gratitude – back in January 2014 on a completely different blog – and I wanted to share what I wrote back then with you now.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude over the last few days. It started when the actor Tyler Hoechlin tweeted a link to this TED talk by David Steindl-Rast, the topic of which is “If you want to be happy, be grateful”.

This resonated with me, particularly the parts about taking a moment to stop and observe the world around you so that you don’t take everything for granted. It’s not something I do very often, if at all.

Boy, did that change today!

I got home last night after a lovely meal with my guests from Minnesota to discover that my laundry, which was half dry when I left, was soaking wet and trapped in the washing machine. After trying many things, I finally thought that I’d got the washing machine fixed (I spent some time poring over the manual last night), but I wanted to stay awake until the cycle was finished (1am) to make sure. Alas, it was not fixed, and my clothes sat in a pool of very soapy water all night.

Having a fresh pair of eyes this morning did not shed any light on the problem, other than to firmly acknowledge that for some reason the washing machine is broke. That’s fine, we can deal with that, but first I need to rinse my laundry and hang it up to dry.

My hands must have been in slightly-soapy water for about an hour and a quarter. They are now so very, very sore. The amount of soap that was in the clothes was phenomenal, the washing machine clearly hadn’t rinsed it at all, so it took filling the sink with water at least six times per load of rinsing (there were two loads – one of my towels was too big to fit in with the rest). I have never been so glad that I was born in this day and age in my life!

I am so, so grateful that I was not born one hundred years or more ago, because there’s no way I would have been high-born so I would likely have ended up a maid. I’m so grateful we have washing machines. I’m so grateful I don’t have to hand-wash on a regular basis. I’m so grateful for dryers. I’m so grateful for repair people, and the fact that I have no doubt we’ll get it fixed soon. I’m so grateful for hand-cream. I’m also really grateful that my mother taught me how to hand wash, because despite hating this morning at least I knew what to do with my soapy clothes!

And because I’m so grateful about all of these things, I’m not particularly unhappy or annoyed about the washing machine. Sure, it’s a pain, but I got the things I wanted washing washed anyway, and besides, my gratitude for not normally having this problem far outweighs the annoyance of actually having the problem.

Gala Darling, in this article here, discusses the idea of starting a gratitude jar for the year. The idea is that you write down anything you’re grateful for when it happens, put it in the jar, then on the 31st December you take them all out and read them. Alternatively you can read them whenever you’re feeling unhappy or annoyed, since as in the talk above, it’ll probably make you happy.

I think it’s a wonderful idea. I’m not sure that I’ll be doing it, but I definitely want to start being more grateful for things. So I thought I’d share two little things here that I’ve been grateful for recently.

bird

This is part of the birthday present that my ex-flatmate Harriet made for me. It’s so pretty! No one has ever made me something like this before, and I’m aware of the time and effort that she put into it because I was half-talking to her on Facebook at the time. There’s a bird cage for him as well, and I named him Dionysus. I love it, and I’m so grateful for the fact she decided to make it. [Harriet’s blog, if you’re interested, can be found here.]

floor

The next thing I’m grateful for is my mum. What does that have to do with the photo above? On Monday evening I vacuum cleaned the house from top to bottom, and I spent a lot of time in the kitchen getting the floor spotless (well, bit-less). The above is the pile of crumbs and dirt that I brushed up at 9.30 on Tuesday morning once everyone had finished breakfast. It was annoying, because the floor had been so clean! It really made me think about my mum, and everyone else who keeps their house clean. You don’t really pay attention to the effort that they put in, but it’s really hard work keeping everything spotless! I’m so grateful that she did it (and still does, in her house), and I’m so grateful that up until now I didn’t have to do it. I never realised how much work it was, and I really appreciate everyone who is the primary house-keeper of their family.

You’re all amazing people!

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