It was cold, and I found myself complaining about it roughly every 15 minutes or so. My husband was getting tired of listening to my ceaseless whining. Even the cat was avoiding me. As you may guess, I’m not a fan of winter. You can keep the snow, freezing temperatures, and blustery winds to yourself if that’s your thing. As for me, I secretly think those who eagerly flock to the ski slopes or venture out in the woods on snowshoes might be lacking common sense. Colorado is a great place to live most times of the year, but I’ve always dreaded the coming of winter. So choosing gratitude in my least favorite season seemed nearly impossible for me. That is until I gained a different perspective on things.
Only a Hot Shower?
I recall one night a few years ago when the weather was especially frigid. Temperatures were sub-zero and our furnace had been running continuously. I decided that a nice, hot shower would take the chill off and help me feel more relaxed before hopping into bed. So I stepped under the inviting cascade of warm water coming from the showerhead. For just one minute, I closed my eyes and pretended to be somewhere in the tropics. I pictured myself standing on a sunny beach with a sparkling waterfall flowing over my body. It was a lovely moment abruptly interrupted by some unexpected thoughts. What if I had never enjoyed a hot shower, or at least not on a regular basis? Even worse, what if I were unable to have everyday access to pure running water?
Imagining the Experience From Another Perspective
As these questions arose in my mind, they changed my way of thinking and allowed me to briefly step outside myself. I imagined that this was the first time I’d had the pleasure of feeling warm water on my skin. With a new vision, I began to see a previously mundane experience as unique and special. Now every delicious drop of water rendered a gentle massage that soothed my spirits. The rising mist penetrated my thirsty body and gave me renewed vitality. A cozy contentment blanketed me. I suddenly realized that, for many, something as simple as a hot shower may be a true luxury. It was then that I understood that I could choose to be grateful for even the smallest blessings in my life.
Taking So Much For Granted
This personal insight was the turning point in shaping a more grateful attitude within me. Up until this time, all the available amenities in my life had become “expected”. They seemed so insignificant that I hardly even noticed them in my day to day living. My centrally heated home, freshly cooked food, and comfortable bed were ordinary conveniences. Add to that a safe community, access to good health care, and more articles of clothing in my closet than I care to mention. I could see that, for most of my life, I had failed to fully appreciate the obvious abundance all around me. I had fallen short of choosing gratitude for any of these things.
It doesn’t take much effort to find individuals who don’t share the quality of life that many of us have. Sadly, lots of people in our world spend the day walking the streets, braving the elements. They huddle wherever they can at night to keep warm. A meal may be scarce and one’s safety questionable. Recognizing those facts made my complaints about winter seem petty and foolish. I had taken much for granted and decided that it was time for a change.
Choosing Gratitude Over Grouchiness
These days, I’m more mindful of how fortunate I am. Whenever I start to feel disgruntled about my circumstances, my heart gently prompts me to take notice of all the good that surrounds me. Moreover, I feel compelled to share that goodness whenever I can. A voice within me whispers that we are all connected and here to lift one another up on this journey. This has led me to break free from my comfort zone and be an encouragement to anyone who might need support. I believe that I have been blessed to be a blessing to others.
Being grateful has brought me greater joy than I thought possible. But it’s hard to feel unhappy when you are focused on helping others who struggle with even basic needs being met. Performing such tasks as collecting resources for the homeless and serving meals to the hungry has given me a true sense of community so helpful during these challenging times. My spiritual life has grown, too, as my awareness and empathy toward others have come into greater focus. Winter is still teaching me many things. But the biggest lesson so far is that I can always choose gratitude instead of grouchiness, no matter what the season. Because of this, I know I’ll survive the cold weather after all. But I’ll still be glad when Spring rolls around!
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, its employees, sponsors, or affiliates.