The Gratitude Game

At this time of year we can find ourselves pulled in so many directions, from this to that and back again.

Is there room for gratitude between the buying, preparing, shopping, drinking and eating? And what about gratitude?

I do not mean the kind of gratitude that I was forced to feel as a child, the "Be grateful for what you have" kind -- talk said through anger and snarled lips.

How can I be grateful when I do not own a Cabbage Patch doll, my 8-year-old inner voice would say.

Well, I am no longer eight and my relationship to gratitude has changed. No one is forcing it on me. I now see gratitude as a choice, and I choose it.

The gratitude game is not for the weak of heart. It involves looking at what you have and being thankful for it. This does not mean that there is no longer any striving, but it means being content, filled up and in awe of what we already have and finding more in our experiences.

As a young girl I was the one who had clothes bought from the second-hand store. I was the one who was not allowed to have friends to sleep over and I never had the latest toy.

My self-worth was tied up with what I owned and I what I was allowed to experience.

As a teenager I was going through my own version of hell on earth and as far as I was concerned, there was absolutely nothing to be grateful for.

I started to play the gratitude game when I was in my 20s (late I know, forgive me).

To be honest, I am not sure if someone said it to me or I read it somewhere, but the message I got was that I was in charge.

Life could be easy or hard and my attitude to gratitude would make all the difference.

This does not mean that I went around putting sunshine and sparkles on everything that life threw at me, but it did mean that I stopped.

I stopped to take a breath.

And through the good and the not so good I started to practice the question: "Where can I find gratitude now?"

On tough days my gratitude always took me back to the basics.

I am grateful I have food every time I need (and don't need) it.

I am grateful I have a roof over my head.

This always bought a sense of calm, peace and acceptance into my heart. It made me realise that whatever I was dealing with would not be the same forever.

On beautiful days, the kind of days where I had to pinch myself to believe they were happening, gratitude was everywhere, my best friend giving me the biggest hugs.

It seemed to add more to what was already there and brought me once again the feelings of profound calm, peace and acceptance into my heart.

That was nearly 20 years ago now, and as I have been playing the gratitude game for a while now I have to say that there is quite a lot of sunshine and sparkles.

What are you grateful for?